South Africa vs England

South Africa vs England: It always goes down as the game we should have won, if we hadn’t changed our tactics. But when we played Australia we knew they’d put 40 points on us in Sydney a few months earlier. We’d played some very good rugby against them and where they had done really well was out wide. We’d missed a number of tackles on David Campese and he’d scored three tries, but without those tries the scoreline would have been a lot closer.

So we thought we needed to play a more fluid game against them. It wasn’t something we were talked into – we spent the whole week working out how we were going to win the game. The consensus afterwards was we’d played all the rugby but we didn’t nail the key moments. Back in the dressing rooms, Australia were almost too exhausted to celebrate. They had literally spent the entire second half defending.

We were still trying to come to terms with the defeat, and how we should feel after losing such a match at our own ground, when we left Twickenham, but there were hundreds of people singing Jerusalem as we walked to the coach. I felt it was a real acknowledgement we’d been part of something really special. We had no doubt we could win. There was no lack of belief, and we came into it riding some good momentum. On the day, we left it all out there. We gave it everything.

We had been on a five-and-a-half-week tour of Australia and Fiji, then we went home for a few days, before having seven weeks for the World Cup. We weren’t able to see our wives and girlfriends during the competition, so we’d been away from our homes and our jobs for months. I was a banker at UBS at the time and I turned up at the office on the Monday. There were 750 people on my trading floor and when I walked in they all stood up and applauded. We hadn’t won but that showed me that we hadn’t failed. My boss took me to one side and suggested I go away with the family for a few weeks, but I hadn’t worked for months. I politely declined his offer.

Obviously rugby is a profession now but when you think about the values of the game and the human elements of it, that hasn’t changed. Or if it has, it hasn’t necessarily been for the better. I had a sympathetic employer and a job to go back to, whereas now if you get forced out of the game through injury you’ve got nothing. We need to look after our people and we’ve got work to do on that. But the sport has been absolutely fantastic. It was wonderful to see Japan play the sort of rugby that needs to be played; teams who have not embraced that – Ireland perhaps – have come unstuck. England, though, have set the standard. The way they played that semi-final against New Zealand was game-changing. It’s been a huge success and a lot of these teams will get better. I’m chairman now of European Professional Club Rugby and, watching the tournament, I think it’s been a wonderful shot in the arm for the game worldwide.