December 31 down the years
Birth of a French legend
Legendary French flanker Jean-Pierre Rives was born on this day in 1952
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Legendary flanker and French captain Jean-Pierre Rives was born in Toulouse. Rives first represented his hometown club in 1974. It was not long until his unmistakeable talent gained attention from the national selectors and Rives made his France debut against England in 1975, at the age of 22. It was the start of an international career that would take him to the very top in terms of both personal and team achievements. In 1977 he was inspirational as a brilliant French side won the Grand Slam and his attitude and commitment to playing free-flowing, ambitious rugby endeared him to fans the world over.
Ireland became the first Home Union to award cap status for a Test against Italy. The Azzurri were beaten 31-15 at Lansdowne Road with Keith Crossan and skipper Philip Matthews each scoring two tries for the Irish.
A massive effort from the Ospreys forwards gave their team a gritty 16-12 win over the Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park and sent the region top of the Magners League for the New Year. Filo Tiatia and Lee Byrne scored tries for the visitors to disappoint the home crowd in the last Christmas derby at their famous old ground before the move to the new Cardiff City Stadium in Leckwith.
1951The touring Springboks arrived in Eastbourne for a four-day mid-tour break over the New Year.
England & Wales defeated Scotland & Ireland 18-15 in a special Four Countries match in Dublin, staged to mark the opening of the Irish Rugby Union's new two-tier stand at Lansdowne Road.
Schoolboy Terry Price made his mark in senior rugby by appearing for Llanelli against the All Blacks. Playing on the wing he accidentally broke Waka Nathan's jaw in a goal-line tackle, but the Scarlets were well beaten 22-8.
Fly-half Phil Hawthorne proved his fitness for the Wallabies ahead of their England Test by returning from injury to score 15 points in the tourists' 27-6 win against the Southern Counties at Iffley Road.