Andrew is England’s director of elite rugby and the man charged with installing the systems and structures for long-term success.
The accepted approach was that potential world champions needed to build towards the tournament for at least four years, if not longer. Clive Woodward’s preparations for England’s 2003 triumph were seen as the blueprint.
New Zealand planned meticulously for the World Cup and had been the best team on the planet for the last three years. In 2005 they won the Lions series 3-0 and then embarked on a Grand Slam tour. The All Blacks arrived at the World Cup as hot favourites.
English rugby, meanwhile, was in a state of disarray.
When Andrew joined the Rugby Football Union a year ago, his focus was trained on the 2011 World Cup. The feeling at Twickenham was that time had run out on England’s hopes of defending their title.
The RFU and Guinness Premiership clubs were embattled in never-ending rows, one of which had to be settled in the High Court.
Woodward quit because he was not guaranteed the access he wanted to the elite players. Andy Robinson took over but the off-field problems were reflected on the pitch as England slumped to an eighth defeat from nine Test matches.
But, under head coach Brian Ashton and captain Phil Vickery, England have turned all that perceived wisdom on its head.
Andrew hailed the impact Ashton and his coaching team have made since taking the reins for the Six Nations campaign earlier this year.
“They have done a remarkable job given the circumstances, not just coming into this World Cup but through the Six Nations and the tour of South Africa with all the players that weren’t available,” he said.
“They have done a huge amount behind the scenes. They have worked extremely hard and dealt with as much pressure as any England coaching team has ever been under.
“Following the defeat to South Africa, we effectively started the knockout stages in the last 32 against Samoa, then the last 16 against Tonga. Now we are down to the last two.”
While the experienced heads have been vital on England’s run to the final, youngsters Toby Flood, Dan Hipkiss and Matt Stevens have all made significant impact off the bench.
Andrew said: “Those of us who were close to the game, and even before I was appointed, were pretty confident the English game actually wasn’t in as poor health as the results were showing.
“Last autumn, when it was eight defeats out of nine, which equalled the worst record on the international stage, that tells its own story.
“But I don’t think anybody has ever lost faith with the players in the English game. There is an enormous amount of talent coming through.
“Some of it is here. There were young guys on the field at the end of the game yesterday. The talent is there and clearly this World Cup campaign has translated that talent into results.”
The RFU’s coffers, which swelled in the wake of the 2003 World Cup win, had been hit by falling merchandise sales — until last week.
The Twickenham store sold out of all World Cup gear, some 40,000 are estimated to have travelled to Paris and the television audience on ITV1 on Saturday peaked at 12.4 million.
J Robinson, P Sackey, M Tait, M Catt, J Lewsey, J Wilkinson, A Gomarsall; A Sheridan, M Regan, P Vickery, S Shaw, B Kay, M Corry, L Moody, N Easter.
Replacements: T Flood for Catt (69), D Hipkiss for Lewsey (40), P Richards for Gomarsall (71), G Chuter for Regan (66), M Stevens for Vickery (56), J Worsley for Moody (54), L Dallaglio for Easter (70).
D Traille, V Clerc, D Marty, Y Jauzion, C Heymans, L Beauxis, JB Elissalde; O Milloud, R Ibanez, P De Villiers, F Pelous, J Thion, S Betsen, T Dusautoir, J Bonnaire.
Replacements: C Dominici for Heymans (61), F Michalak for Beauxis (51), Szarzewski for Ibanez (51), Poux for De Villiers (66), Chabal for Pelous (25), Harinordoquy for Betsen (67).
J Kaplan (South Africa).