December 22 down the years
Springboks claim victory in Wales
Leigh Halfpenny was born on this day in 1988
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Wales lost 6-3 to the Springboks at the National Stadium in Cardiff, a match billed as for the unofficial world championship. The inspirational Bleddyn Williams scored the Welsh try but his effort was cancelled out by a Springbok effort from Chum Ochse and a drop-goal from Hannes Brewis. The Boks had already smashed Scotland at Murrayfield and defeated Ireland, setting up a Grand Slam which was achieved with victory over England. Remarkably the tourists also hopped across the channel to defeat France. Their only loss came to London Counties, leaving a tour record of played 31, won 30.
Cardiff Blues and Wales wing Leigh Halfpenny was born in Swansea. Blessed with bags of pace and a siege-gun boot, Halfpenny made his international debut against South Africa in 2008 after only a handful of regional games, including a stunning display against Gloucester in the Heineken Cup. He marked his debut with a long-distance penalty and scored his first Test try against Canada the following week. He scored the winner against England at the Millennium Stadium during the 2009 Six Nations and a brace as the Blues lifted the Anglo-Welsh Cup at Twickenham. His form led to a surprise selection for the British & Irish Lions tour but injury cut short his involvement, with only a single tour game under his belt.
Wales staged their first Test against overseas opposition, defeating the New Zealand 'Natives' team by a goal and two tries (five points in those days) to nil at Swansea. Welsh wing Norman Biggs became the youngest man (at 17) to play for Wales - a record that holds to this day.
In their last tour match before Christmas the Springboks had to pull out all the stops to beat Cornwall 9-3 in a tight match at Redruth.
The New Zealand Army Kiwis defeated London Counties 30-0 at White
City. Welbecson Press (later Programme Publications) published British rugby's first-ever glossy magazine-type programme - a 24-page production with a blue, black and white cover.
A Welsh XV beat France 8-0 at Swansea in the first of the so-called "Victory" internationals - matches for which the Home Unions did not award caps. Cardiff supplied six of the seven Welsh backs, including Billy Darch at scrum-half as the mercurial Haydn Tanner was unable to travel back from service in Austria.
Dense fog blighted many of the day's games and causes the cancellation of the west country matches including Bristol v Cardiff and Bath v Exeter.