October 31 down the years
France turn on the style
Christophe Lamaison starred for France on this day in 1999
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A real contender for the greatest game ever played took place at Twickenham. France produced a display that consummately defined 'Gallic flair' to come back and beat the All Blacks 43-31 in the Rugby World Cup semi-final. The French had trailed by 14 points early in the second-half before Philippe Bernat-Salles, Richard Dourthe and Christophe Dominici added to an earlier score by fly-half Christophe Lamaison. Lamaison finished with 28 points and Dominici was unplayable in the second-half. Les Bleus took to the field at the close for a lap of honour when they were applauded off by every neutral in the 73,000 crowd.
Llanelli, coached by Carwyn James, beat Ian Kirkpatrick's All Blacks 9-3 at Stradey Park. South Wales's pubs famously ran dry by 6pm. Roy Bergiers scored a try from his own charge-down and Andy Hill scored a colossal long-range penalty. Skipper Delme Thomas was carried from the field by fans, and fly-half Phil Bennett produced a showing suitable for a genuine legend of the game. "It was the most physical game I've ever played in," said flanker Gareth Jenkins. "That day I remember the whole town closed for a half-day."
1995 Seven years after switching codes to join Warrington from Cardiff, Jonathan Davies became the first player to move from league to union for a fee (£60,000). Cardiff had offered £30,000, a bid flatly rejected by the league side. But Davies made clear he would retire if the deal did not go through, in effect leaving Warrington with no choice but to agree to the move.
Thirty-five years to the day of his finest hour for his beloved Llanelli club, Ray Gravell died suddenly on holiday in Spain. Wales mourned the passing of a favourite son and his club later gave him a "state" funeral at Stradey Park, with 10,000 in attendance. A powerful centre and fiercely proud Welshman, Gravell made his international debut in 1975 against France at the Parc des Princes. He won 23 caps for Wales and played four Tests for the British & Irish Lions in 1980. He was the youngest player in the Llanelli side that beat the All Blacks and following his playing days he took up a successful career as both an actor and broadcaster. "He was a catalyst for all the good things you expect from a team player," his former coach John Dawes reminisced to the BBC. "If you're talking about the colours of the rainbow, he brought six of them. He was just magical and we will miss him so very, very much."
Munster beat Graham Mourie's New Zealand 12-0 in Limerick - still the All Blacks' only defeat by an Irish side. Christy Cantillon scored a try for the men in red, with Tony Ward converting and slotting two drop-goals. Munster were coached by Irish great Tom Kiernan and were fierce in defence, with Shay Dennison notable by the ferocity of his tackling. "Munster played the type of game in Limerick we set out to play ... but played it better," said gracious skipper Mourie.
The first ever Heineken Cup match: eventual champions Toulouse travelled to Romania and beat Farul Constanta 54-10.
In their first-ever appearance at Cardiff Arms Park the South African touring side were made to work hard for a narrow 6-3 victory against Glamorgan. Both the tourists' tries came in the first six minutes.
South of Scotland held Bennie Osler's third Springboks to a pointless draw at Melrose in the ninth match of the tour - the first side to hold the visitors.
The fourth All Blacks began their tour with a convincing 24-0 win against the Southern Counties in front of 10,000 at Hove Greyhound Stadium, with 21 points coming in the first half.
Oxford University inflicted their then record win over a touring team, running in ten tries as the beat the Canadians 56-0 at Iffley Road.