On this day in 2007: England beaten by South Africa in Rugby World Cup final

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Holders England were beaten 15-6 by South Africa in the Rugby World Cup final on this day in 2007.

Head coach Brian Ashton told his players to leave Paris with their “heads held high” after South Africa ended their brave title defence.

England had overturned the odds to reach the final with two gutsy knockout victories, first over Australia and then France.

South Africa lift the trophy
South Africa lift the trophy (John Giles/PA)

But they could not manage it a third time as South Africa edged a ferocious battle to become world champions for a second time.

Ashton said: “I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed we didn’t win the game. Despite what everyone else thought outside the squad we believed we had a good chance to win the game.

“I don’t think 15-6 reflected the difference between the two sides but ultimately you can’t argue with the scoreboard.”

South Africa won thanks to four penalties from Percy Montgomery and a long-range effort from Francois Steyn.

Mark Cueto was rued to be in touch
England’s Mark Cueto was ruled to be in touch (David Davies/PA)

England’s only points came from the boot of Jonny Wilkinson and despite dominating the scrum they did not get the bounce of the ball when it came to refereeing decisions.

England were denied a try by video referee Stuart Dickinson when Mark Cueto finished off a brilliant attack in the corner but was adjudged to have brushed the touchline as he was tackled by Danie Rossouw.

“It is easy with hindsight to say ‘yes, that was the turning point’ but you just don’t know,” Ashton added.

“We were hanging around the South Africa 22 for long enough after that. It was a big moment in the game but it is hard to justify it was the turning point.”

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