'Thank goodness we weren't playing all of Samoa'
Western Samoa give Wales an indication of what is to follow
© PA Photos
In arguably the biggest upset of Test rugby history, Western Samoa beat Wales 16-13 in their Rugby World Cup group match at Cardiff Arms Park. Samoa's To'o Vaega was awarded a controversial try at the start of the second-half when television evidence suggested that Wales' Robert Jones had won the race to the ball but there was no doubting Sial Vaifale's fine try that helped carry the minnows to a famous victory. "Thank goodness we weren't playing all of Samoa!" quipped many Welsh fans but when they did, at the 1999 Rugby World Cup, the Islanders scored another notable upset - winning 38-31.
England's brilliant pack demolished Australia to set up a famous 12-10 victory in their Rugby World Cup quarter-final clash at Stade Velodrome in Marseille. The boot of fly-half Jonny Wilkinson eventually carried England home with his four penalties helping to cancel out a try from Wallabies winger Lote Tuqiri. Later the same day, tournament favourites New Zealand surrendered an early lead to fall 20-18 to France in their last eight clash at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. Second half tries from Thierry Dusautoir and Yannick Jauzion ensured the All Blacks' Rugby World Cup dream crashed and burned once again. England accounted for hosts France in the semi-finals but were beaten by South Africa in the tournament finale.
Wales, the Five Nations champions, were pushed to the limit by Romania in Cardiff. The Romanians, in the final match of a hitherto unbeaten tour of Wales, went down 13-12 after Gareth Davies dropped a late goal after leading 12-6. But the newspapers were unimpressed by Wales' roughhouse tactics, and "play acting which conned the referee" and led to Wales' opening three points was singled out for opprobrium.
Wales beat Japan 62-14 at Cardiff in the first representative match staged between the nations. Wales dominated from start to finish running in 11 tries but the Times was inspired by the Japanese's "astonishing display of durability and fitness". The loudest cheer of the day came when Japan scored the first of their two tries.
The Italian national side wound up their early-season tour of England and Wales going down by the artistic margin of one point - 15-14 - against Harlequins.
The Gordon club from Sydney opened their British tour with a 16-8 defeat by Wasps in a Sunday match at Sudbury. Wasps' lock Bruce Peters was sent off for striking an opponent.