The image of a heavily bandaged Tom Curry - who missed two games after being sent off in the opener against Argentina - being replaced after giving his all on his 50th cap in the bronze final summed up England’s tournament: in the wars but ultimately emerging with credit.
Try of the tournament
England's kick-heavy approach was a point of discussion throughout RWC 2023, but when it worked it could be a thing of beauty – and highly effective, as George Ford proved in the Pool D match against Japan, his pinpoint crossfield kick finding king of the skies Freddie Steward to score in the corner.
Quote that said it all
"I think many people wrote we wouldn't get out of the group, maybe some of them are here tonight." Fighting talk from head coach Steve Borthwick after victory against Fiji put England into the semi-finals.
Man of the moment
Without doubt all-action back-row Ben Earl (pictured). England’s most consistent performer during the tournament, he also provided moments of inspiration, such as the line break and 50-metre sprint up field during the quarter-final against Fiji. Got the reward his performances deserved in the bronze final, picking a beautiful line off Marcus Smith’s short pass to score England’s opening try. Should be a key player in the years to come.
One for the future
Five tries, albeit some of them walk-ins, against Chile gave fans a glimpse of Henry Arundell’s potential. The 22-year-old will play in France for Racing 92 this season but has been given special permission to play in the 2024 Six Nations after his last club London Irish went into administration. He will be hoping England develop a game to suit his attacking style.
From the Touchline
Joe Marler’s ‘header’ for Courtney Lawes’s try in England’s win against Japan earned the prop the honour of strangest assist of the tournament – and also a gift from his favourite football club, Brighton, a signed shirt from the Premier League outfit with ‘Marler 1’ on the back.
1 – the number of teams England have lost to in the past two RWCs. South Africa beat them 32-12 in the 2019 final and, agonisingly, 16-15 in this year’s semi-final. England might be looking to avoid the Springboks in 2027 – or finally get one over on them on the big stage.
After losing to Scotland, France and Fiji at Twickenham in 2023 and looking underwhelming in the build-up, expectations were low for England's RWC campaign. But they recorded arguably their best performance since the RWC 2019 semi-final in the last four against South Africa. Some experienced players are retiring but if they can build on the potential of those who emerged during this tournament, and expand their gameplan, Steve Borthwick’s team should again be a force to be reckoned with in four years’ time.