February 18 down the years
Biting, punching and kicking in gay Paris
First sight of a Five Nations red card ... but not one John Davies will look back on with fondness © Getty Images
A match proclaimed as being for the unofficial world title France and South Africa in Paris turned nasty within minutes as players threw punches and kicked each other. French skipper Francois Moncia started the violence by punching Hugo van Zyl in the face after three minutes; then one-eyed Springbok Martin Pelser was deliberately kicked in his good eye and French hooker Jean de Gregorio bit prop Piet du Toit in the chest. Diminutive welsh referee Gwynne Walters called both captains together and threatened to call the game off unless they controlled their players and from then on all was sweetness and light …but there were no points as the game ended in a 0-0 draw.
Welsh prop John Davies became the first player to receive a red card (but not the first to be sent off) in Five Nations rugby. He was dismissed by French referee Didier Mené for kicking Ben Clarke against England at Cardiff. Rory Underwood scored a brace of tries to help the visitors to a 23-9 victory but prop Victor Ubogo may have had mixed emotions after scoring the game's first try. He had wagered £100 at 18-1 on him doing just that but found out later a friend had forgotten to place the bet.
A better day at the office for Wales as they beat Scotland 22-14 at Murrayfield but the post-match inquests were no less searching with Gareth Edwards saying he was bemused they had not scored 40 points. "Listen to the Pontypool boys in the showers," JPR Williams added. "No a murmur. No songs today." Faced with a rampaging Wales side and a bitter wind into their faces, Scotland dug deep after going 14-0 down in a quarter of an hour and Wales skipper Phil Bennett praised their "courage and tenacity".
Gavin Hastings' last-minute try under the posts and subsequent conversion brought Scotland a dramatic 23-21 victory against France in Paris, their first win there for 26 years. France led 21-16 with eight minutes to go when Thierry Lacroix missed a conversion, allowing Hastings to snatch the late win. "It was an heroic achievement," he said. "It ranks up there with the Grand Slam triumph over England in 1990."
Ugly scenes after Cornwall had secured a draw in the County Championship semi-final replay at Richmond with a last-kick penalty. As Cornwall fans swarmed onto the pitch, Surrey wing John Coker from Sierra Leone was punched in the face by a spectator. "It was the same man who punched me in the kidneys after the first match in Redruth a fortnight ago," he said. "I didn't retaliate even though I was fighting mad. Other spectators dragged him away." The idiot was unwise in provoking Coker. He was a former heavyweight boxing Blue from Oxford.
Peter Clohessy, the Irish tight-head, was cited for a stamping offence in the previous day's France-Ireland match and received a 26-week ban. Ireland slipped to a heavy 45-10 defeat at Parc des Princes.
Wales, the previous year's joint champions, moved inexorably to a Five Nations wooden spoon, suffering a then record 31-12 defeat against France in Paris. The visitors felt the full force of French fullback Serge Blanco, who scored two tries.
Organisers announced the 2007 Rugby World Cup was the most successful tournament in its 20-year history. Held in France, it smashed all previous attendance, broadcast and economic impact figures. The total attendance reached 2.25 million, with a total economic impact of total economic impact of €4 billion.
Showing her green credentials as well as willingness to say what she thought, Margaret Thatcher, at the time just the education secretary, visited Twickenham to meet RFU officials and wasted no time in telling them they had too many lights on in the room and to save energy by turning some of them off.