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April 24 down the years
The birth of the Middlesex Sevens
Former France captain Jean Prat pictured during a match in Paris,
France captain Jean Prat had a good day with the boot on this day in 1954 © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Jean Prat | Andy Ripley | John Taylor | JPR Williams

Harlequins' mainly international VII won the first Middlesex Sevens tournament (organised on behalf of the Middlesex Hospital Reconstruction Fund) at Twickenham, beating St Mary's Hospital 26-3 in the final in front of 15,000 spectators. Before the final, there was a 500-a-side game between teams assembled from the crowd.

England's women won the World Cup, defeating USA Eagles 38-23 at the Edinburgh Academicals ground at Raeburn Place (where the first international match was played between Scotland and England in 1871). England defied the pre-match oracles to win by five tries and a penalty goal to four tries and a penalty goal, avenging their loss in the first competition three years earlier.

Coventry took their points aggregate for the season to a new club record, passing 800 for the first time in their 14-0 win against Bristol.

The RFU Cup - sponsored for the first time (by John Player) - goes north. Gosforth scored four tries at Twickenham in their 23-14 extra-time triumph over Rosslyn Park, for whom Andy Ripley scored a rousing try. Rosslyn Park played all but ten minutes with 14 after Mordell had been sent off for punching, the fifth of their players to be dismissed in the season. On the same day, Llanelli beat Swansea 16-4 to win the Welsh Cup.

Swansea beat Aberavon 32-3 to win the Welsh title but the match was spoilt by regular outbreaks of fisticuffs. "Aberavon came for a bruiser," wrote the Guardian, "and as well as two full-blooded fights there was so much off-the-ball punching and aggravation that it was hard to comprehend what the officials were seeing; they failed miserably."

Pontypool brawn out-muscled London Welsh guile on the Exiles' Easter tour of South Wales. They ran out comfortable 22-3 winners against John Taylor's city slickers, despite going behind to a JPR Williams penalty goal early on.

Jean Prat was in deadly form with his kicking boots, landing six conversions and two penalty goals in France's 39-12 defeat of Italy in Rome.

Cardiff announced that they were ready to turn their backs on the Welsh RFU and look to play in England. "We have had enough in Wales," said club chairman Peter Thomas. "We are delighted with the response we have had from the English clubs, who recognise our potential on the field and off it."

The Barbarians made history, leaving London by air to undertake their first overseas tour - a six-match visit to Canada.

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