It united the country. In previous months, pubs were open in the early morning, beers were flowing and chants were ringing around the confined spaces people found themselves in – eager to show their solidarity in numbers as England battled their way to the World Cup final.
At Sale Sharks’ training base in Carrington, World Cup finalists Tom Curry and Mark Wilson discuss their experience in Japan, a far-cry from Salford’s AJ Bell Stadium, where they ply their trade at club level.
For Curry, following a stellar tournament in which he was named man-of-the-match in the quarter-final as well as earning a Player of the Year nomination, the loss 31-12 to South Africa after so much work, its understandably still hard to take.
He said: “It’s a bit bittersweet. Obviously, you’ve got to take time to reflect and you’ve got to love the moments – especially the special ones like man-of-the-matches, they don’t come around often – so you do have to enjoy them but as I say it’s bittersweet.
“I’d rather be the worst player and we win the World Cup than be a good player and lose, so yeah it’s a shame.”
Wilson, a summer loan signing from Newcastle Falcons, who perhaps didn’t get as much game-time as he would have liked or deserved, feels he did all he could with few opportunities to impress.
He said: “I think its probably two separate answers: I think, I would have obviously liked to play more but on the flip side of that I did add to the team as much as I could.
“Although I wasn’t playing most of the games, the way that I trained and stuff, I wanted to add as much as I could and I really enjoyed being a part of that and was lucky enough to be part of the squad for the final and semi-final which was obviously very pleasing.”
Curry had different members of his family join him at various times – notably his brother, Ben Curry, who was given special dispensation from Sale to watch his identical twin.
“It was unbelievable. I was pretty lucky having my sister (in) the first round, then my parents from the quarters onwards.
“The final was pretty special in so far as I got my brother who made a big deal of coming out,” Curry joked.
“You’ve got to take those moments in and enjoy them with the people you love otherwise you’ll never enjoy your career.
“Although we lost it does add a real nice positive spin that everybody was out to, I say celebrate but enjoy what has happened in the last twenty weeks.”
Despite the loss in the final to South Africa, the experience is one to cherish and has really given England fans something to cheer about at this World Cup, given that in 2015, the side went out of a home tournament in the pool stage.
Curry added: “Moving on from the 2011 World Cup to the 2015 one where we got knocked out in the group stages, to be able to push on through against a lot of tough opposition, its a huge credit to not only to the players and the coaching staff but everyone on that journey.”
England’s journey may be long-gone at the 2019 World Cup, but the memories for the Three Lions fans will be timeless and will only better the excitement for France in four years time.