sport news Martin Johnson and Sir Clive Woodward tell Martin Samuel: HOW TO BEAT THE BOKS 

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Martin Johnson is peering out of a 37th floor window across the Tokyo skyline, overwhelmed by the juxtapositions. Huge skyscrapers next to tiny, six seat bars. He was in one the other night, with a handful of people, minding his business. It was quite late and he was spotted by a couple of fans. 

'They weren't any problem but, you know, it was 2am and we probably weren't their first bar,' he says. 'They wanted to come in. There were these two little old ladies serving and I don't think they had seen much like it. I had to have a word.' Meaning?

'Well after the third time they hadn't taken no for an answer I had to step in and explain. It's not very impressive, is it? Frightening little old ladies? They were fine. They got the message. It's very different here. They were not bad guys actually. Rugby fans from Portugal, supporting Argentina. As you do.'

Sir Clive Woodward (left) and Martin Johnson (right) have recounted the 2003 World Cup final for the first time

Sir Clive Woodward (left) and Martin Johnson (right) have recounted the 2003 World Cup final for the first time

Johnson and Woodward settled down to discuss that final and how to beat the Springboks

Johnson and Woodward settled down to discuss that final and how to beat the Springboks

The pair are, for now, England's only Rugby World Cup winning captain and coach

The pair are, for now, England's only Rugby World Cup winning captain and coach

The England team celebrate following their 20-17 victory in the 2003 World Cup final - with captain Martin Johnson at the back (back row, centre - behind the Webb Ellis Cup)

The England team celebrate following their 20-17 victory in the 2003 World Cup final - with captain Martin Johnson at the back (back row, centre - behind the Webb Ellis Cup)

Sir Clive Woodward is across the room making notes for an upcoming television interview with Eddie Jones. 

England's only Rugby World Cup winning coach, and its only Rugby World Cup winning captain - although not for much longer, fingers crossed - together in the same room.

People imagine them as a double act, on an endless run of promotions and appearances. The reality is, their paths rarely cross. 

Both insist this is the first time they have done this, sat down to reminisce, to talk about the past, the present; it's time to turn the tape on.

Sir Clive Woodward guided England to Rugby World Cup glory against Australia in 2003

Sir Clive Woodward guided England to Rugby World Cup glory against Australia in 2003

Captain Johnson lifts up the Webb Ellis Cup as Woodward celebrates in the background

Captain Johnson lifts up the Webb Ellis Cup as Woodward celebrates in the background

Jonny Wilkinson's late drop goal kicks England to victory in Sydney back in November 2003

Jonny Wilkinson's late drop goal kicks England to victory in Sydney back in November 2003

Martin Samuel: I was reading Clive's piece about what happened on the day of the World Cup final in 2003 and I was struck by...

Martin Johnson: How boring it was.

MS: Well, yes, but not the piece. Just the day, the hanging about.

MJ: We kicked off at 8pm. So it was boring. When you get up you can't be thinking 'World Cup final, World Cup final' because you'll be exhausted by the end. Mentally, you've got to be on a simmer or there'll be nothing left of you. I remember we probably trained less that week than at any time in my career.

Sir Clive Woodward: That was a conscious decision.

MJ: We didn't need to. We were ready. Matt Dawson said recently how difficult it must have been for me as captain, but honestly, it wasn't. I just trusted them. All of them. So it was really easy in that sense. Everyone had an eye on each other.

CW: Johnno's line was: if everyone does their job properly, we win this game. And it was no different that Saturday. I always felt it was a very powerful statement. I felt it applied to me as well, as coach, because I could always have screwed it up with tactics or substitutions or whatever. Don't get carried away with the occasion.

Johnson insists his role as captain in the week before the 2003 final was 'really easy'

Johnson insists his role as captain in the week before the 2003 final was 'really easy'

Both Johnson and Woodward insist the pressure for this team is different to their 2003 team

Both Johnson and Woodward insist the pressure for this team is different to their 2003 team

MJ: It's a balancing act. Of course it's a World Cup final. You're in Sydney, you're in Tokyo, there are things going on, you can't escape from that. But also, it's a game of rugby on a rectangle of grass. And that's what you do. I found the best bit, the easiest bit, was rugby. As much as the World Cup final, though, when we got on the field against the Boks in the pool game it felt hugely pressurised. We had so much expectation, not just externally, but internally, because anything less than winning that tournament would have been a disaster. 

We weren't there to be plucky semi-finalists, or plucky losers in the final. And that pressure came from a long way out. It was almost crushing. And they had a good team by then, but young. I still say that was our toughest match. 

They'd only lost one World Cup game in their history and it was in extra time to a drop goal in the 1999 semi-final. They're a proud nation, and a proud rugby nation. I remember the year before, we put 50 on them at Twickenham. Corne Krige, their captain, coming up at the end. (Produces very passable South African accent, mimes a jabbing finger.) 'We'll see you in Perth, mate. We'll see you in Perth.' 

CW: That was the most violent international Test match I've seen at Twickenham. The lock, Jannes Labuschagne, was sent off for taking out Jonny Wilkinson after 20 minutes. The next day the referee, Paddy O'Brien, phoned me and said: 'I'm so sorry. I've watched the video - I should have sent off four or five.' 

MJ: Paddy knew it was coming, too. I thought it had just been niggly with a bit going on. I didn't know the extent of it until we watched the video. He called the captains together and said: 'The next one goes off.' I said to him, 'Paddy, we haven't done anything.' 

I thought it was going to be that classic thing where they commit 37 offences, we do our first as a reaction, and our guy goes. Fortunately, good old Jannes came along and took Wilko out.

Johnson listens to instructions from his coach at Pennyhill Park in November 2002

Johnson listens to instructions from his coach at Pennyhill Park in November 2002

CW: It wasn't that bad, actually.

MJ: No, it wasn't in itself a sending off. But when the ref's said five minutes ago 'don't do anything stupid' and you go in individually, one-on-one, late tackle on the other team's superstar, O'Brien must have thought: 'I don't want to send you off, you p****, but you've got to go.' It was more for stupidity, than violence.

CW: It's one of the few pictures I've got in my house, that scoreboard. England 50 South Africa 3. No-one had ever done that to them before. I thought I'd never see a scoreline like it in my lifetime.

MJ: We pushed them over for the last try, too, scrummaged them over which for South Africa is a triple kick in the balls. There were about two minutes to go. I said to Paddy: 'Nothing good can come of this last two minutes.' And he blew. It wasn't separately timed back then. It was on the referee. We had played Australia the week before and the ref's watch stopped. We were a point up and hanging on, and it went for an extra seven or eight minutes because he was quite enjoying himself. But Paddy knew. 

Then a few months later I was in London, just walking along. A cab pulls up and this massive Afrikaner bloke gets out. Same thing. 'We'll see you in Perth, mate.' Just some random guy. And now we're sat here before another World Cup final and I'm meeting people and they're saying, 'Oh, if we just play like last week, South Africa are rubbish' and I'm lecturing them for five minutes on the danger of that sort of talk, grabbing them by the collar as they try to edge away from me. It's so dangerous.

Johnson says England had no interest in being 'plucky losers' back in 2003

Johnson says England had no interest in being 'plucky losers' back in 2003

Johnson pulls a face with his hands over his mouth

Johnson sits back in his chair with his arms crossed

Johnson pulls a series of faces as he recounts England's road to glory Down Under in 2003

Johnson scrunches his nose up as he sits back

Johnson lets out a laugh

Johnson scrunches his nose up and lets out a laugh during his chat with his former coach

Johnson looks animated in conversation with Woodward leaning back as he listens in

Johnson looks animated in conversation with Woodward leaning back as he listens in

MS: Are they a unique physical challenge, though? Is there another country like them?

MJ: You get stereotyped. But there's a reason they're stereotyped. Personally, I think it's beautiful.

CW: I remember going on the Lions tour to South Africa in 1980, and they're just these big, powerful people and they haven't changed from that to 2002, to Perth, to this World Cup. You know what's coming. When the pressure is on they revert to what's in their DNA, and their fans love it, the whole place loves it. We talk about boring rugby but the South Africans love that.

MJ: Within it, though, they will produce exceptional rugby players. They had Joost van der Westhuizen at scrum-half back then and he could score tries out of nothing. My soul focus as a defender close to the ruck maul was not letting him pull my pants down.

CW: South Africa was the game we had to get through in 2003. We all knew, deep down, that if we won that we were going to the final. The pressure was horrible.

MJ: They don't change. I watched their quarter-final with Wales in 2015 and it was just the bluntest attack. Throwing bodies at this brick wall. But then the first bit of subtlety in their play, they scored. Because they do have good players. If you have big boys and you want to play direct, crack on, because you're going to win a lot of Test matches. But within that they can produce great rugby, too. They're like the French. You can never afford to underestimate them.

Johnson ties his laces as Woodward oversees a training session at Bagshot in October 2000

Johnson ties his laces as Woodward oversees a training session at Bagshot in October 2000

CW: If this goes down to the wire, start panicking. If we can't get ahead of them, it's going to be a tough, tough game.

MJ: In 1986, there was a rebel New Zealand tour of South Africa, and they broke the captain's jaw, Andy Dalton, second Test in. Colin Meads got his arm broken there. You watch the documentaries about the 1974 Lions tour. JPR Williams, running the length of the field to belt someone. The good old days they call them.

CW: I'm not sure they were that good. Try playing in the backs.

MJ: But you can get too much into the brutality of it. You can be physical without being dirty and that, overridingly, is what they're like. Players like Andre Venter, Ruben Kruger, fantastic players, so committed. Big, strong men, but when you meet them after, lovely blokes. I can remember Venter coming into the departure lounge, same as us, after one tour because they were going out to the Tri-Nations, handing out his card. 

'I've got this game farm, you must come down next time.' Fritz van

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