The England vs Australia rugby rivalry dates back over 100 years to their first meeting at Rectory Field, the former home of Blackheath Rugby Club, in 1909.
While not as old, or intense, as the equivalent cricket rivalry, it has produced a series of epic matches and legendary moments. In particular, recent World Cup meetings have added an extra edge to the encounters.
It is an ongoing conflict that took time to get warmed up. In the first 50 years, the countries only met four times. But regular World Cup meetings, England tours to Australia, and autumn internationals have meant the two sides have met 27 times since 2000.
It has been an even match-up too. Up to the start of the current three-match series, the score stands at Australia 25, England 26 with one draw.
Read about five of the most memorable moments in England vs Australia internationals.
1. Twickenham, 1991 – The David Campese knock-on
England displayed impressive dominance to battle their way to the 1991 World Cup final, and in the build up to the game there was every expectation that they would prevail.
However, whether it was in response to the widespread criticism of being “boring”, a genuine belief that different tactics would help them win, or a reaction to mind games from Australian winger David Campese, England opted for a more expansive game.
Australia led 12-3 when Campese deliberately knocked-on a pass destined for England winger Rory Underwood.
Underwood would have probably scored but, instead, England could only manage one more penalty and were left thinking about what might have been as Australia lifted the William Webb Ellis trophy.
2. Cape Town, 1995 – A drop goal from Rob Andrew
England had not beaten Australia outside London when the two teams met at Newlands in Cape Town in the quarter-final of the second World Cup.
It was not the most thrilling game, with just one try apiece. At 22-22 and coming towards the end of extra-time, the prospect of a penalty shoot-out looked on the cards.
Then 45 metres out, England scrum-half Dewi Morris fed Rob Andrew whose perfect drop-goal sailed between the posts for the win.
It meant Will Carling and his team progressed to the semi-finals where Jonah Lomu was waiting…
3. Twickenham 2000 – An 87th minute try for Dan Luger
Before the advent of the stadium clock for major matches, the referee and his stopwatch were the arbiters of how long a game would go on for once the 40-minute mark had been reached.
Consequently, every Australian who watched the 2000 encounter at Twickenham is convinced that referee Andre Watson had decided to play “next score wins it” rather than go by the time showing on his wrist!
England had not beaten Australia since the 1995 World Cup quarter-final, and the intervening period had seen the “tour from hell”, which included a 76-0 drubbing in Brisbane, and Australia winning their second World Cup in 1999. As a result, the stakes were understandably high.
After a close game, it looked as though the visitors would prevail again until, with 87 minutes on the clock, an Ian Balshaw kick-through was grounded down by Dan Luger and England had won.
It was the first big “statement” win of the Clive Woodward era.
4. Sydney, 2003 – “That” drop goal
With time running out in extra time, the England captain notices his scrum-half is buried under a pile of bodies so calls for the ball and goes on a run himself.
The scrum-half extricates himself, so he is in position to take the ball from the ensuing ruck, and make a perfect pass to the fly-half who is waiting to drop the winning goal.
Off his unfavoured right foot, the fly-half makes perfect contact as the ball flies over several Australian hands trying to knock it down.
In the stands behind the posts, the sea of white explodes with joy.
Back in England every bar in every rugby club does likewise, and Jonny Wilkinson writes himself into English rugby history.
5. Marseille, 2007 – Mark Regan taunts his opponents
After the peak of 2003, the 2007 England campaign as defending champions seemed to be running on little more than instinct and bloody-mindedness.
A first game hammering from South Africa and a couple of other unconvincing displays meant they arrived for the quarter-final in a baking-hot Marseille as very much the underdogs.
By contrast, Australia were full of confidence and when their skills coach predicted a 30-point win, few argued with him.
No one had reckoned on Andrew Sheridan choosing that day to channel Os du Randt, however.
Alongside Phil Vickery and Mark Regan, he destroyed the Australian front row at the first two scrums. Recognising their discomfort, as they faced up for the next scrum the feisty Regan told them: “Cheer up lads, only 75 more minutes of this to go!”
England should really have lost, but won a close game 12-10.