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May 26 down the years
Harlequins toast maiden Premiership crown
Quins skipper Chris Robshaw and director of rugby Conor O'Shea, Harlequins v Leicester Tigers, Aviva Premiership final, Twickenham, England, May 26, 2012
Chris Robshaw and Conor O'Shea inspired Harlequins on this day in 2012 © Getty Images


Led by inspirational flanker Chris Robshaw, Harlequins defeated Leicester Tigers 30-23 to clinch the Aviva Premiership crown in front of a record crowd at Twickenham. Three years on from their Bloodgate fiasco, Quins had director of rugby Conor O'Shea to thank for turning around their fortunes, with Robshaw and wing Tom Williams on the scoresheet in the final. Steve Mafi and Anthony Allen replied as Leicester rallied late on, but the Tigers were forced to bid farewell to club legend Alesana Tuilagi with a defeat.

"Harlequins may have topped the Aviva Premiership table for much of the regular season but the prospect of their first appearance in the title-decider against old stagers Leicester was supposed to reduce them to also-rans," ESPNscrum editor Graham Jenkins wrote. "Instead, they thrived on the occasion and showed an enviable temperament that put their rivals very much in the shade on a glorious day for the competition and English rugby in general."

The Brumbies beat The Sharks 36-6 to clinch the Super 12 crown at Bruce Stadium in Canberra. It was a case of third-time lucky for the Australian side having suffered final defeats to the Blues in 1997 and the Crusaders in 2000. The Brumbies broke the New Zealand stanglehold on Super Rugby with a devastating second half display.

The Sharks shackled the hosts in the first half with some bruising defence but two missed penalties from Butch James would prove costly for the South African side. The Brumbies raised their game after the break and their pressure would bring significant results. A brace of tries from Joe Roff and another by David Griffin along with 21 points from the boot of Andrew Walker - standing in for the injured Stirling Mortlock - carried George Gregan's side to victory.

The Lions opened the New Zealand leg of their tour with a marvellous try by John Bevan. The Cardiff and Wales star got on the end of a flowing move in the second minute of the match against King Country/Wanganui that the tourists won 22-9.

The historic tour, that climaxed with a first-ever Test series victory over the All Blacks, had begun with two matches in Australia with the Lions losing to Queensland before edging out New South Wales. But they bounced back to form across the Tasman and went on to win 22 of their 24 matches in New Zealand.

Captained by John Dawes and coached by Carwyn James, the Lions won the first Test in Dunedin before the All Blacks levelled the series in Christchurch. The Lions won their third clash in Wellington and needing to win the last Test to square the series, New Zealand could do no better than a draw.

All Black Jerry Collins announced his retirement from New Zealand first-class rugby.

The hard-running flanker, capped 48 times by New Zealand, brought the curtain down on his career with Wellington and the Hurricanes following the latter's defeat in the Super 14 semi-finals. He initially played down reports of a lucrative move overseas but later agreed a deal with French club Toulon. After a two-year stint in the south of France, he signed with Magners League side Ospreys.

He was the 11th player to quit New Zealand following their failed 2007 Rugby World Cup campaign in France joining the likes of Chris Jack, Carl Hayman, Anton Oliver, Byron Kelleher, Aaron Mauger, Luke McAlister and Doug Howlett in opting for a move overseas.

Jean Prat led Lourdes to their fourth Championship title in six seasons, the miracle city beat Racing 16-13 in a closely contested final in Lyons.

New Zealand opened their first ever five-Test series with Australia by posting a 20-6 win in Brisbane. The teams played twice in Australia and three times back in New Zealand.

Stan Hodgson's Lions tour ended in the first match. The English hooker broke his leg in the second half of the tourists' 38-9 win against Rhodesia.

Christchurch's Lancaster Park was re-christened Jade Stadium after a computer software firm won the bidding for naming rights.

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