November 20 down the years
The golden boy's golden debut
New Zealand's Jeff Wilson on his way to a hat-trick of tries © PA Photos
20-year-old Jeff Wilson enjoyed a golden Test debut for New Zealand, scoring a hat-trick of tries in a 51-15 demolition of Scotland at Murrayfield. "They involved all 15 men and played open, exciting rugby," admitted Gavin Hastings. "They were dominant up front and had pace and power in the backs. We just couldn't get the ball as they stepped up a few gears from previous games. It was all too much for us."
Wales came within touching distance of ending their long barren run against the All Blacks, losing out 26-25 at the Millennium Stadium. Confusion over the amount of time remaining on the clock led Wales skipper Gareth Thomas turn down a chance to get to the corner for the winning try and Wales were again left ruing one that got away.
England appeared to be making good progress in the absence of Jonny Wilkinson. His stand-in Charlie Hodgson collected 27 points including a full house in England's 32-16 defeat of South Africa at Twickenham. His try, five penalties, two conversions and a drop-goal were too much for the visitors, who scored their only try through debutant wing Bryan Habana. Jason Robinson captained England.
New Zealand had to be content with the Bronze place in the Rugby World Cup after beating France 40-13 in the third/fourth place play-off in Sydney. Marty Holah, Doug Howlett, Chris Jack, Mils Muliaina, Joe Rokocoko and Brad Thorn crossed for tries in front of over 60,000 fans at Stadium Australia.
In the days when Oxford and Cambridge varsity rugby mattered, Oxford's dismal form made the back pages of even the tabloids. A 50-12 thrashing by the Quins meant in ten matches they had shipped 344 points. Unsurprisingly, Cambridge won the Varsity match at Twickenham a little over a fortnight later.
Jean-Claude Skrela scored the first four-point Test try, but Australia came from behind to win 13-11 against France in Toulouse. Skrela charged down a kick by Wallabies fullback Arthur McGill, but his effort was undone by a long-range penalty from Jeff McLean.
Rugby league stars Trevor Foster and Willie Davies were prominent in Wales's 11-9 victory against England in the Services international match at Swansea. During the war years an amnesty was declared on league players switching codes because of player shortages and travel difficulties, but the usual pig-headedness was resumed in 1945.