RWC #18: Jonah Lomu reintroduces himself to England

New Zealand’s legendary winger runs over Clive Woodward’s men at Twickenham in ’99

Jonah Lomu swatted away white shirts to score another stunning try against England in Pool B of the 1999 Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Getty

Jonah Lomu swatted away white shirts to score another stunning try against England in Pool B of the 1999 Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Getty

 

England’s game against New Zealand in Pool B of the 1999 World Cup wasn’t a must-win, but for both sides life would be far easier down the line if they came away victorious and therefore topped the group, with the runner-up having to play an extra game four days before the quarter-finals.

And for England the game took on a greater an even greater significance as they looked to shake off the ghosts of their semi-final humiliation in Cape Town four years earlier, where they were out-muscled and outpaced and ultimately trampled all over.     

It was a stern task for England, even playing at Twickenham, and while the packs were equally matched the All Blacks line posed a menace Clive Woodward’s side lacked.

Indeed, New Zealand raced into a 16-3 lead courtesy of Andrew Mehrtens boot and a Jeff Wilson try.

But England rallied, with a Phil de Glanville try and two Jonny Wilkinson penalties bringing the scores level.

But then, deja vu. Mehrtens looped a long pass out to the left wing, where Jonah Lomu was lurking 55-metres out.

Lomu thundered past the despairing dive of Jeremy Guscott and steamed down the flank. He feinted inside then stepped easily past Austin Healey, before crashing over the line with white shirts hanging off him.

It was Lomu as his unstoppable best. A Byron Kelleher score increased New Zealand’s lead and England were finished.     

Lomu’s try isn’t remembered quite like his Cape Town demolition job, but his effort four years later at Twickenham showcased exactly what made him so feared and revered.

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