The Queen found herself handing over the Webb Ellis Cup to an Australia captain for the second time in a decade when the Wallabies beat France 35-12 to win Rugby World Cup 1999 at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
However, John Eales wasn’t the only figure to get the royal seal of approval in the Welsh capital that day, as match referee Andre Watson explains.
“I was given a trophy by royalty after the game and I also remember the Queen saying, ‘I don't know how you guys do it’, because there was a lot of whistles and boos when I was called forward!” Watson recalled in an interview with World Rugby TV.
There was plenty of whistle in the 80 minutes on the pitch, too, as France, who had the backing of most neutrals, failed to match the heights reached in their epic semi-final win over the All Blacks and were consistently penalised for various offences by Watson.
Wallaby full-back Matt Burke made them pay with his howitzer of a boot, kicking a total of 25 points, while second-half tries from Ben Tune and Owen Finegan confirmed the Wallabies’ superiority.
"People said France played their final the weekend before when they beat the All Blacks, I don't know, I thought the French gave it everything," Watson counters. "I know Australia did and out there, there were 30 players on the park at any given moment that were really going hammer and tongs and giving it their all. It was still a fairly tight game but I thought that try by Owen Finegan just put it beyond doubt."
Keen to let the quality of rugby match the occasion Watson did what he could to encourage a free-flowing spectacle, but in doing so he incurred the wrath of one out-of-breath Wallaby forward, who would probably have settled for a 3-0 victory.
“One incident from a refereeing point of view that I remember very clearly was when I played second advantage to Australia after play had gone into the France 22," recalls Watson.
“I thought I was very smart because that’s the only try a referee can ‘score’, when he plays advantage and it comes off, but one of the Australian props came up to me and pushed my arm down so that it was no longer in the horizontal position and said to me, ‘this is a World Cup final, give us the penalty’.
“It made me think that perhaps there wasn't a synchronisation between what the referees and what players wanted, so I had no hesitation in giving him the penalty.”
The RWC 1999 final was only the 13th time Watson had taken charge of an international.
“It was a great moment, a real privilege,” he says. “I only heard five days before the game that I was going to ref it. I’ll never forget the moment when I heard the announcement in the referees’ team room. People try to put clichés to it, nervousness, excitement … I just call it being bloody scared!"
Watson must have done a decent job as he was chosen to referee the next final, Australia versus England at RWC 2003, a game that saw the South African's decision-making scrutinised more than ever before
His views on that epic extra-time thriller will make for fascinating reading in next week's installment of the World Rugby TV series on Rugby World Cup final referees.