Toulouse lift inaugural Heineken Cup
Emile N'Tamack lifts the Heineken Cup on this day in 1996
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Toulouse beat Cardiff 21-18 after extra time in front of a Sunday crowd of 21,800 at Cardiff Arms Park in the first Heineken Cup Final. In its inaugural year the tournament featured teams from France, Ireland, Wales, Romania and Italy, with English and Scottish clubs prevented from entering by their respective governing bodies. Six penalties from Adrian Hadley forced extra time for the home side, although they spurned two chances to score as time ran out. Toulouse scored the only tries, through Jerome Cazalbou and centre Thomas Castagnede, who also slotted a drop-goal, and stole victory with an extra-time penalty from fly-half Christophe Deylaud.
Billy Bancroft gave Wales a last-minute 12-11 victory over England at Cardiff. With little time left to play and Wales losing 9-11, they were awarded a penalty near touch, 30 yards from the England goal line. The Welsh captain, Arthur Gould called Bancroft over and told him to kick (from the ground) for goal. Bancroft insisted on dropping for goal, but Gould forbade it. The two began arguing in front of the home crowd, until in frustration Gould threw the ball to the ground and walked away. Bancroft successfully kicked the drop goal which would win the match for Wales. This penalty goal although dropped by Bancroft was still awarded as such, and was rugby's first penalty goal.
The prolific Willie Llewellyn scored four tries on his international debut as Wales hammered England 26-3 at Swansea. Llewellyn was one of seven debutants that wowed a 25,000 crowd at St. Helen's, with Viv Huzzey scoring twice and Billy Bancroft adding four conversions.
The RFU almost unanimously decided to send the Lions to South Africa arguing that the rugby authorities in South Africa had made "enormous strides in making their rugby integrated".
Legendary Ireland fullback and British & Irish Lion Tom Kiernan was born in Cork.
The final England trial at Twickenham left the selectors with a mighty headache after the 'Rest' hammered 'England' 20-3. Thick fog kept the crowd down to 12,000. The next day the selectors chose ten new caps and a new captain, Eric Evans (who had led the 'Rest'), for England's upcoming Five Nations opener with Wales.
Debate over allowing substitutes in internationals arose when Scotland's loose forward Charlie Stewart badly hurt his knee early on in their match against France in Paris. He played for almost all the second half even though he was largely immobile and Scotland still managed to control long periods of play but for an 18-minute spell in the second half when France, who ran out 11-0 winners, scored all their points.
Kiwi Murray Kidd resigned as Ireland's coach after four successive Test defeats, including a loss to Italy at Lansdowne Road. Kidd succeeded Gerry Murphy in the role but endured an unsuccessful tenure that produced three wins and six losses, being replaced by future England coach Brian Ashton.