2003 Rugby World Cup team of the tournament, where are they now? | Page 3 of 3 | Ruck

2003 Rugby World Cup team of the tournament, where are they now?

4: Martin Johnson (England)

Why he was on the team?

Johnson was the clear captain of the World Cup XV, having lifted the Webb Ellis Trophy aloft after England’s 20-17 win against Australia.

But it was not just his leadership which gets him in the starting line-up. Simply as a second-rower he was truly outstanding.

He was always irritating the opposition in the line-out, driving at every opportunity and taking on attack after attack whenever he got the chance. The overwhelming star lock down under.

What is he doing now?

The World Cup winning captain retired from international rugby before the 2004 Six Nations, continuing to play at club level for Leicester until 2006. In 2007 he worked as an analyst for ITV in their coverage of the Superbowl before becoming a surprise choice as England chief in April 2008.

Still getting over the 2011 World Cup which brought to an end his stint as England supremo. Has taken up cycling and done some coaching sessions with younger players and was an ambassador for the 2015 World Cup.

5: Paul O’Connell (Ireland)

Why he was on the team?

Aside from Johnson, there were a lot of stars in the second row. Australia’s main protagonists did not put a foot wrong until the final where their line-out didn’t quite work.

South Africa’s Victor Matfield was another impressive player as was Ireland’s Malcolm O’Kelly, but it is O’Kelly’s team-mate Paul O’Connell who makes it into the mix.

The Irish line-out was majestic, only showing cracks in the quarter-final defeat to France, while O’Connell was also a raging inferno in the loose.

What is he doing now?

After retiring following the 2015 Rugby World Cup, the Ireland legend joined BBC Sport as a pundit and commentator ahead of their coverage of the 2017 Six Nations Championship, but joined ITV for the 2019 World Cup. He’s very good too!

6: George Smith (Australia)

Why he was on the team?

Critics said Australia would not beat the big boys of world rugby with two natural open-side flankers, but Smith, a man of perpetual motion, rammed that notion back down their throats.

He was afforded a standing ovation by the Telstra Stadium crowd when he came off in the semi-final win over New Zealand and made England’s life a misery whenever the chance arose in the final.

What is he doing now?

The unit was still going! After spells all over Europe and in Japan, the Wallabies legend finally hung up his boots at the end of the 20178/19 season after playing for the Bristol Bears in the Gallagher Premiership.

7: Joe van Niekerk (South Africa)

Why he was on the team?

South Africa dipped out of the tournament after a quarter-final defeat to New Zealand – so it is easy to forget the sort of impact van Niekerk made.

The Springboks were a tad too fluctuating on the field, but not van Niekerk, who could not have been blamed for any of their misadventures.

Defensively, he is an irritation to any attackers, but it was with the ball in hand that he was at his finest.

What is he doing now?

In 2008 Van Niekerk packed his bags and headed for Toulon in France where he became an instant club legend, playing – and captaining the side – in 122 matches.

Then he disappeared off the radar.


That was until Toulon’s non-official fan club posted a picture of another former Toulon player Pierrick Gunther who caught up with Van Niekerk, who now manages his psychological fitness centre for burn victims in Costa Rica.

8: Lawrence Dallaglio (England)

Why he was on the team?

Some had said the England number eight was past it, but they were left eating their words after his displays against the French and All Blacks.

In both games he protected Matt Dawson superbly as well as always being willing and able to take the ball into contact throughout.

For all the criticism, his World Cup outcome must have been more satisfying than for most.

What is he doing now?

Retired in 2008 helping Wasps win the Guinness Premiership final at a sold-out Twickenham in his last professional game. He went on to work as an analyst for ITV during the 2011 Rugby World Cup and co-commentated on the semi-final match between Australia and New Zealand before setting up the Dallaglio Foundation which has raised millions of pounds for charity through gruelling cycling challenges. Now BT Sport’s lead rugby union expert.

%d bloggers like this: