Four years ago, Clive Woodward's England team went down under and returned with the Webb Ellis trophy, as Champions of the World. They had the 'usual' heroes' welcome: thousands crammed in to Heathrow airport (including my sister who, by shouting 'Press! Press!' and flashing her driving-licence about, managed to get to the front row and to 'stroke' Josh Lewsey as he passed by), a reception at the Palace, and an open-top ticker-tape parade through The Strand and Trafalgar Square.
Like other notable sporting tournaments, the 2003 Rugby World Cup had its iconic few seconds. You know the one; That Drop Kick By Jonny Wilkinson. Instantly, it joined the lofty ranks of defining moments of living history. "Where were you when Hurst scored that goal? When Neil Armstrong walked on the moon? When JFK, John Lennon, and JR were shot? When you heard about Diana? When the second plane hit the Twin Towers? When Jonny kicked That Drop Goal?"
The unusual time of that rugby match made for a memorable watching experience. I was hosting a TV-watching pyjama party in a small room above the highstreet. One of my friends was watching from outside the patio doors, chain smoking in the pouring rain, because the stress (exacerbated by early morning alcohol) inside the room had gotten too much for him. Another was rousing from consciousness after oversleeping and thought it was an extension of his dream for a good five minutes. Thousands of others were enjoying the camaraderie of work colleagues in a unique way.
This rugby world cup is in France, which will mean that more England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland fans will be there if one of the home nations pull off an improbable victory in the final. For those of us watching at home, however, the watching experience is going to be nothing like as quirky as last time, with the matches on at boringly sensible evening times. "Where were you when Shane Williams scored that try?" they will ask for a decade in Wales, "in the pub, watching it on the telly", millions of fans will identically reply.