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May 11 down the years
Wigan claim the Middlesex 7s crown
Wigan's Kris Radlinski on the charge, Wigan v St Helens, Stones Superleague, Central Park, Wigan, England, March 28, 1997
One-time union target Kris Radlinski was a member of the Wigan rugby league squad that won the Middlesex 7s © Getty Images

Wigan RLFC, the first rugby league side to play under union laws at Twickenham, won the Middlesex Sevens, defeating Wasps 38-15 in the Final in front of a capacity 61,000 crowd. Fresh from annilhilating Bath 82-6 at Maine Road in the first of their high-profile cross-code clashes, Wigan outclassed the best union had to offer with a squad full of familiar names. Martin Offiah, Scott Quinnell, Va'aiga Tuigamala and Shem Tatupu all had union experience while Jason Robinson, Andy Farrell and Henry Paul went on to switch codes. Another member of the squad was a young Kris Radlinski who was a long-time target of the 15-man code. The team was led by rugby league great Shaun Edwards who became a respected union coach with Wasps, Wales and the British & Irish Lions. Defeated Wasps skipper Lawrence Dallaglio said, "Wigan expected to win and they would have been embarrassed if they hadn't done so. But the games here showed they are going to have trouble with the technicalities against Bath in their return match on Saturday week. They have sheer pace and power but I still reckon Bath will win by 20 to 30 points." Bath went on to beat Wigan 44-19 in their union clash at Twickenham.

British and Irish Lions head coach Ian McGeehchan called Scotland skipper Mike Blair up as replacement for Ireland's Tomas O'Leary as he prepared his squad to tour South Africa. Scrum-half O'Leary broke his ankle on club duty for Munster only three days after being named in the touring party, allowing for Blair to step in. Blair was only the second international captain in the squad, joining Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll. His inclusion took the Scottish contingent to three, with prop Euan Murray and lock Nathan Hines the other representatives. Blair did not feature in the Test matches, losing out to Wales' Mike Phillips.

Former England winger Mike Slemen was born. He was capped 31 times by his country between 1976 and 1984, scoring eight tries, and was England's most-capped wing before Rory Underwood broke his record. He was also part of the Lions squad that toured South Africa in 1980 and later worked as an England coach under Geoff Cooke.

The Lions were reduced to 14 men after only a quarter of an hour in their match against South Australia in Adelaide. Flanker Derrick Grant retired with concussion but the tourists played brilliant open rugby, scoring eight tries in a 38-11 win. The Lions won the two Test matches against Australia but lost all four of their clashes against the All Blacks. Overall the tourists, captained by Mike Campbell-Lamerton, played thirty-five matches, winning twenty-three, losing nine and drawing three. In Australia the Lions played eight matches, winning seven and drawing the other. In New Zealand they played twenty-five matches, winning fifteen, drawing two and losing eight. They also played two matches in Canada, winning one and losing one.

Newcastle beat Bath 20-15 to go top of the Allied Dunbar Premiership, one point clear of Saracens in the penultimate round of league matches. They held that lead until the end of the season to claim the Premiership crown in their first season in the top flight.

In the Courage League play-off, Bristiol defeated Bedford 19-12 thanks to tries by captain Martin Corry and Kevin Maggs. The West Country club thus staved off the challenge from the Division 2 hopefuls to stay in the top flight.

In the final round-robin round, ACT Brumbies beat Waikato Chiefs 49-6 in Canberra to finish two points clear at the head of the Super 12 table. The Brumbies, captained by George Gregan, accounted for the Reds 30-6 in the semi-finals before powering past the Coastal Sharks 36-6 in the season finale in Canberra.

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