Wallabies snatch series from Lions
Martin Johnson's Lions lost the deciding Test in Sydney
The deciding third Test between the Wallabies and the British & Irish Lions went Australia's way. The sides tied on tries and conversions but Matt Burke's five penalties to three by Jonny Wilkinson left the hosts 29-23 winners at Sydney's Stadium Australia. In the build-up to the match, Lions dirt-tracker Austin Healey called Australian debutant Justin Harrison 'the plank' but the Leicester player's comments backfired as the lock played the game of his life and won a crucial late lineout to claim the Man of the Match award. It brought to an end an acrimonious tour for Graham Henry's men, who had done more than their fair share of back-biting and unhelpful public criticism of each other. Four years later Henry would coach his native All Blacks in their whitewash of the Lions.
On Bastille Day, Jean-Pierre Rives's France displayed power, passion and panache scoring four tries in a 24-19 win against New Zealand in Auckland. France's star player was Alain Caussade who scored a try, a conversion and a drop goal.
Future Australian flanker and most capped Wallaby forward of all time George Smith was born. Smith celebrated his 21st birthday when he played in the deciding Test against the Lions in 2001, which saw the Wallabies take the series 2-1. The following year he was the first player to win the John Eales Medal and he played in all seven matches at the 2003 World Cup as the Australians reached the final. He won the Super 14 with his franchise, the Brumbies, in 2004 and at the 2007 World Cup he became the 75th captain of his country when he skippered the side against Canada. He was also selected in the line-up in the Wallabies Team of the Decade. Early in 2010 Smith announced his retirement from Test rugby and subsequently signed for French side Toulon.
London Irish director of rugby Brian Smith was confirmed as England's new attack coach. Smith, a former Australia and Ireland international, joined the management team led by Martin Johnson after the Rugby Football Union were able to negotiate his release. He would work alongside defence coach Mike Ford and forwards coach John Wells.
In their bid to take a series off the Springboks for the first time, the All Blacks opened with a 10-6 win in Dunedin where wing Ron Jarden and lock Bonzo White each scored a try and Jarden converted two for the winners.
The All Blacks got their tour of South Africa back on track with their first win for three weeks, beating Rhodesia 44-8 in Bulawayo.
Two tries by Gert Brynard helped the Springboks coast to a 23-3 win at Lancaster Park, Christchurch, in their match against the New Zealand Juniors.
England's Bob Hiller led the British & Irish Lions dirt-trackers for the first time in a 27-6 win against Wairarapa-Bush at Memorial Park. The Lions scored seven tries, including a brace each for Barry John and Alastair Biggar.
The Wallabies wound up the Rhodesian leg of their tour of Southern Africa with a 31-11 win in Bulawayo. It was their best performance of a three-match rubber that ended 2-0 in favour of the Australians with one match drawn.