December 18 down the years
The Natives arrive in Wales
Alastair Hignell turned out at scrum-half on this day in 1976
© Getty Images
The first New Zealand team to tour Wales arrived in Swansea to a rapturous welcome. The touring Maori brought only 20 of their squad of 26 for the Welsh leg of their British visit in order to save "unnecessary expense". The title of All Black 'Originals' went to the 1905 tour party, with this group of players christened the 'Natives' in part for promotional purposes. After assembling in May 1888 the side toured until August the following year, playing 107 matches including several Aussie Rules and football games.
Former All Black fly-half Eric Tindill was born in Nelson. Tindill played one Test for the All Blacks in 1936 (the famous Obolensky Test against England) and holds the unique distinction of also representing his country in a cricket Test. He also refereed and umpired Tests and in 2009 became the oldest surviving All Black.
Gloucester and England wing Lesley Vainikolo was charged with causing Grievous Bodily Harm after his involvement in a brawl outside a Bath nightclub. The altercation left a man in his 20s in hospital with what were originally thought to be "critical" injures, but he was later discharged. The incident occurred hours after Vainikolo had made an influential impact in Gloucester's Anglo-Welsh Cup victory over Newport Gwent Dragons at Kingsholm, where he scored two tries. Charges against the player were eventually dropped after a jury failed to reach a verdict.
John Blake's Western Counties XV registered a success over the Wallabies, winning 9-8 at Bristol with wing Peter Woodruff scoring two tries.
The RAF enjoyed a wonderful break from the coldest British winter for 15 years to play the Combined Services (Aden) in Khormaksar during a short tour of the Middle East. The visitors lost 3-0 to a second-half try.
The Welsh selectors are denied some last-minute preparation ahead of naming their teams for the final trial when the weather causes the postponement of every first-class weekend match in the Principality.
Alastair Hignell - previously capped by England as a fullback - played scrum-half for the 'Possibles' in the England trial at Twickenham and kicked his side to a 6-0 victory by landing two penalty goals.
Leicester achieved a convincing 34-21 win in their Heineken Cup pool match against Glasgow Caledonians, 19 points coming from the boot of Tim Stimpson and tries from Austin Healey, Dave Lougheed and Neil Back.