February 12 down the years
Shy-and-retiring Chris Ashton routs Azzurri
Chris Ashton dives for one of his four tries against Italy © Getty Images
Four tries from winger Chris Ashton powered England to an emphatic 59-13 victory over Italy in a one-sided Six Nations encounter at Twickenham. Winger Mark Cueto, captain Mike Tindall, flanker James Haskell and replacement scrum-half Danny Care also crossed for tries but it was the dynamic partnership of fly-half Toby Flood and scrum-half Ben Youngs that set the tone for the impressive triumph and allowed Ashton to steal the show. He became the first England player since Ronald Poulton against France in Paris in 1914 to cross four times in a Championship match.
Scott Murray became the first Scot to be sent off in the Five/Six Nations when he harshly got his marching orders from Steve Walsh for retaliation. The Scots, disrupted by his loss for the last hour, went down 28-18 to Wales in Cardiff. Ian Gough saw yellow for his part in the incident. Waeslh skipper Gareth Thomas inspired his men with two tries, while Rob Sidoli powered over from close range. The scoring was completed after Scotland's Jason White was forced to concede a penalty try.
Wales ended their long wait for a victory with a hard-fought 24-6 win over Scotland at Murrayfield. Having tasted defeat in seven of their previous eight Tests, and the ignominy of a home draw against Fiji, Wales dragged themselves across the finishing line thanks to a magnificent defensive performance and an opening 20 minutes that boasted both style and composure. Shane Williams scored either side of half-time for the visitors, who held out for a crucial period just before the break with 13 men following the sin-binnings of lock Bradley Davies and fullback Lee Byrne. James Hook, restored at fly-half for the first time in two years, kicked 14 points and created the first try.
England ran up their highest international score between the wars, beating Ireland 36-14 in Dublin with fullback Grahame Parker kicking six conversions and a penalty goal. Despite the win England skipper Peter Cranmer was relieved of the captaincy for their next match.
Veteran Irish centre Kevin Flynn scored a last-minute try, converted by Tom Kiernan, to give Ireland a 16-12 win at Twickenham against England. Unbeaten Ireland were denied further Five Nations success when their games with Scotland and Wales were cancelled owing to "The Troubles."
King George V was present at Twickenham to see England beat Ireland 15-0. England had to play much of the second-half a man down after Davies hobbled off; Wavell Wakefield came out the pack to play in the centre. England went on to win the Grand Slam.
Bernard Marie became the first Frenchman to take full charge of a Five Nations Championship match, controlling England's game with Ireland at Twickenham. Dick Greenwood, father of future Rugby World Cup-winner Will, scored England's try while Tom Kiernan converted Paddy McGrath's effort to draw the game 6-6
On their first visit to the RFU's newly opened ground at Twickenham Ireland held England to a rare 0-0 draw in front of 20,000 spectators.
Scotland captain Gordon Bulloch apologised to fans after they had watched his side routed 40-13 at Murrayfield. "We committed rugby suicide out there. The fans came full of expectation and we let them and ourselves down badly. For that, we are sorry. Words can't really describe how the guys feel because we know our mistakes cost us." And all that after Scotland made a bulldozing start to lead 10-0 after nine minutes.
Wales successfully negotiated the second leg of a Grand Slam with a straightforward six-try 38-8 win against Italy in Rome. Tom Shanklin, Martyn Williams, Brent Cockbain, Jonathan Thomas and Rob Sidoli all scored, while Shane Williams rounded off a typically brilliant dancing try. Fly-half Luciano Orqera rounded off Italy's try after charging down a Gavin Henson chip.