Ten years before they went on to win Rugby World Cup 2003, Lawrence Dallaglio and Matt Dawson were crowned world champions in the shortened format of the game as England defied the odds to win the inaugural Rugby World Cup Sevens at Murrayfield.
While the England pair were not exactly household names back in 1993, plenty in the tournament were. For Australia, you had Rugby World Cup 1991 heroes Michael Lynagh, David Campese and Willie Ofahengaue, New Zealand’s squad included such luminaries as Eric Rush and Frank Bunce, and Fiji could call upon ‘the king of sevens’, Waisale Serevi.
The most memorable moment of the entire tournament, though, one that put rank outsiders England into the final, belonged to a full-time fireman from Yorkshire, Dave Scully, who’s form merited the scrum-half berth ahead of Dawson.
Fiji's hopes extinguished
In what was the proverbial 14-point turnaround, Scully, with no regard for his own wellbeing, threw himself head-first at giant Fijian forward Mesake Rasari with such force that he not only saved a certain try but also knocked the ball free. England countered and scored at the other end and went on to win the semi-final 21-7.
“It’s quite ironic that it was voted the most memorable moment because I don’t remember a thing!” said Scully.
“I got hit in the side of the head by Rasari’s knee brace and was out cold. I didn’t realise until the post-tournament dinner that we turned the ball over from my tackle and went up the other end and scored.”
England had played an exhausting eight matches in two-and-a-bit days to get that far, a schedule that would run into double figures by the time they played Australia in the final.
With just three training weekends behind them, England had gone into the tournament undercooked and unprepared for such a testing examination. However, fitness was never an issue for their surprise package from the lower leagues.
“I was fairly well-known on the sevens circuit because I was playing in a decent Wakefield side that included the likes of Jon Sleightholme. I was also very fit – I twice ran the London Marathon the day after a game of 15s," Scully revealed.
A game too far for Australia
Beaten finalist Lynagh, however, remembers fatigue playing a part in how the tournament panned out, even though his side rallied from 21-0 down to push England close in the Melrose Cup decider.
“With the number of games (10) that we played over three days, we were just exhausted. It was quite an intensive playing schedule which included us playing New Zealand and England twice.
“I think the results had a bit to do with who you played when and whether you were tired or not.
“Having beaten England earlier in the tournament, to lose to them in the final was disappointing. They got off to a fantastic start and we started to fight back but we just didn’t have it in us to get there in the end.
“To try and dig deep and come back in the 10th game, it was just too much for us.”
For team manager Peter Rossborough, the victory came 20 years after he’d won the International Sevens tournament with England – a primitive forerunner to the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series – at the same venue.
“We felt if we played to our potential, we’d have a chance, and as it turns out, we more than played to our potential and managed to secure victory.
“To do it in Edinburgh, at Murrayfield, where we’d won the first World Sevens, gave us a lot of enjoyment. There was plenty of mickey-taking out of the Scots, in the nicest possible way!
“I remember the wives went to a restaurant at the hotel and started singing, ‘We won the Cup’, and everyone else left the room. It was a great weekend for all of us.”
Sweet revenge for Harriman
While Rossborough says Scully was “the glue that knit the team together”, one of his most vivid memories is of captain Andrew Harriman speeding past Campese in the final, as if he wasn’t there, with his first touch of the ball.
“He’d had one (15s) cap for England against Australia a few years earlier and Campese had knocked him off in the tackle in that game and sprinted away from him and made him look a bit silly.
"But he (Andrew) got his own back in the final by standing Campese up and then accelerating around him on the outside. He was quite astonishing.”
Harriman’s score was followed by tries from Dallaglio and Tim Rodber, another of the hard-working members of the pack, and at 21-0 up, England had one hand on the trophy.
As with any Australian side, they battled through the fatigue and never gave up, and tries from Lynagh, Campese and Semi Taupeaafe put Australia right back in it. Crucially, Lynagh missed two of his conversions, and England managed to hold onto their slender four-point lead.
“I’m glad they were only a couple of minutes left after they scored their third try because all the momentum was with them,” Scully admitted. “When the final whistle went it was met with huge relief.”
With what was effectively a scratch side, England had become the first holders of the Melrose Cup.