The King is born
Barry John was born on this day in 1945
© Getty Images
The legendary Welsh fly-half Barry John was born in Cefneithin. One of the most revered figures in the history of the game, John's mastery of space and water-tight kicking game made him a hero to the rugby-mad Welsh fans, who christened him 'The King'. Alongside Gareth Edwards he inspired a 1971 Grand Slam before slot in at fly-half on the 1971 British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand, his second. In charge of arguably the greatest backline of all time John produced some of his greatest performances as the Lions too the series, their first and only success against the All Blacks. He retired from rugby less than a year later, tired of the constant attention foisted upon him in the 'goldfish bowl' of Welsh rugby. He was succeeded in the Wales No.10 jersey by another all-time great, Phil Bennett.
England's World Cup-winning coach Clive Woodward was born in Ely, Cambs. As a player, Woodward won 21 caps for England and two for the Lions in 1980. It was in the coaching hotseat of England that he achieved greatness, guiding his side to the 2003 Rugby World Cup title in Australia. He took the reins in 1997, helping to bring about a change in attitude towards fitness and conditioning in the England camp. His side won a Grand Slam in 2003 before claiming the first World Cup by a northern hemisphere side. In 2005 he took charge of the disastrous 2005 Lions expedition to New Zealand, where a bloated squad and management structure contributed to a 3-0 series drubbing.
In one of the more bizarre partnerships of recent times, romantic fiction publishers Mills and Boon formed an unlikely agreement with the RFU to produce a set of rugby-themed novels. In a series of stories for their "International Billionaires" selection, plans for eight books to be produced with RFU backing were announced. "They've got all the elements of a quintessential Mills & Boon romance: jet set locations, hunky alpha male
heroes and hot sex, but in a rugby context," said the publisher.
Kingsholm in Gloucester was the venue for the season's England-Wales game. With the Boer War raging in South Africa, God Save the Queen was sung before an international rugby match for the first time. Wales won 13-3 with tried from wing Billy Trew and forward Dick Hellings.
Maesteg fly-half Alan Rees played himself into the Welsh team with an outstanding performance in the Welsh Trial, which was switched from Swansea to Newport owing to frost. To the satisfaction of the selectors the diminutive 'Probables' No.10 steered his side to a convincing 20-9 win against the 'Possibles'.
The Welsh selectors dropped a bombshell by taking the bold step of dropping their Triple Crown leader Clive Rowlands, who had made 14 successive Welsh appearances, all as captain. Allan Lewis replaced him at scrum-half for Wales' opening match of the Five Nations against England at Twickenham.
Ian Kirkpatrick played a captain's part in scoring the only try of the match as New Zealand beat England 9-0 at Twickenham. In front of over 70,000 fans the All Blacks scraped home, with wing Bryan Williams slotting a drop-goal.
Bath fell to their only home defeat in a season that saw them do the League/Cup double in England. Five John Liley penalties gave Leicester a 15-14 victory at the Rec where Bath wing Adedayo Adebayo scored the only try of the game. Jon Callard completed the scoring for Bath with three penalties.