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Premiership Rugby

These players are now immortals’

A Gallagher Premiership Rugby ball

Here a selection of quotes from Sunday's papers:

'The end of Australian sporting hegemony'

"Land of hope and glory. England are the champions of the world. They did it. By the gritted-teeth memory of all the heart-stopping sporting occasions ever played, they did it. It was easily the finest of the World Cup Finals, with a biting intensity on the field and around the amphitheatre of Telstra Stadium. In terms of drama alone, it will stand tall in English sporting history. The trophy was lifted into the Australian night sky, safe in the giant Midland mitts of Martin Johnson, visibly emotional in the post-match interview after playing a match that almost defied belief. About 35,000 white-jerseyed English supporters went nuts, roared as the team went on a lap of honour and dispersed for all-night revelling to celebrate the end of Australian sporting hegemony." – Stephen Jones in the Sunday Times (London)

'Game will go down as one of Rugby Union's greatest'

"The golden boot of the golden-haired boy won England the gilded Webb Ellis Cup in the last minute of extra-time to defeat Australia in an epic rugby World Cup Final last night. The win ends 37 years of winless despair for England at rugby union, cricket and soccer World Cup tournaments, and sent the masses of white-clad English fans into rapture. In an occasion to rival the night Cathy Freeman won gold for Australia three years ago, Sydney’s Olympic stadium pulsated to a match that will go down as one of Rugby Union's greatest. The sides each scored one spectacular try, but, in the end, it came down to the boot. A golden one. One of the ages."– Mark Fuller in the Age (Melbourne)

'These players are now immortals'

"Where would this rank in all the sporting moments I've seen? Very high up, definitely. England has waited a long time for something like this. And they deserved it, that was the thing. They've had the momentum building up over the last four years, particularly the last two years. Today they proved why the four years of work had been worthwhile. These players are now immortals. In the space of an evening they've become part of our history. And it was wonderful to see." – Richard Williams in the Observer (London)

'Something to finally sing about'

"This was a World Cup not just for Johnson, or his strong, fit and well-drilled team. It was a World Cup for a nation that has struggled for sporting pride, particularly against Australia, in the past quarter of a century. It's no surprise that Johnson, after he took the Cup from Australian Prime Minister John Howard, could be seen mouthing the words "f—ing fantastic" as he lifted the trophy above his head and let Sydney's summer rain fall on his exhausted face. The England players stayed for a long time in the southern end of the ground where most of their singing, dancing, flag-waving fans waited in delirium. At last, they truly had something to sing about." – Michael Donaldson in the Sydney Morning Herald

'One of the greatest sporting spectacles in living memory'

"This was sport in the raw, on the edge, a gladiatorial contest between two witheringly competitive sides who combined to produce one of the greatest sporting spectacles in living memory. Ian Botham's Ashes, the England football team's 5-1 win in Munich, Steve Redgrave's fifth Olympic gold: now add to that Wilkinson's World Cup as the man so derided in Australia as a one-trick pony had the last laugh, delivering the coup de grace with an almost super-human resilience in the face of such suffocating pressure. Woodward had dismissed suggestions beforehand that it was his side's destiny to win the World Cup but, as Wilkinson pulled the trigger on his unfavoured right foot with the clock ticking down, the script seemed too contrived to be believable. It was fantasy rugby, on a day when the English finally remembered what it was like to be world champions."– Simon Hart in the Sunday Telegraph (London)

'Mud, blood and guts'

"Australia's World Cup dream was snuffed out in mud, blood and guts last night. In a bruising encounter, England bulldozed its way to glory, 20-17. It hit the Wallabies with brute force and silky skills, destroying the myth that it plays boring rugby, but not before Australia came back from down and out to force the game into extra time. It was a stunning encounter, with all the drama of the Olympics and an AFL Grand Final rolled into one. It was a great occasion, even for Australians more familiar with other football codes. Not since Cathy Freeman won Olympic gold here three years ago has this stadium experienced such high-voltage tension. It was a great, grinding victory for a nation ridiculed for its lack of sporting achievement on the world stages of cricket, tennis and soccer." – Matthew Shulz in the Herald Sun (Melbourne)

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