December 7 down the years
Rugby world declares war on students' boots
A row at the Varsity match where the entirely amateur teams were ordered to blacken out any logos on their boots by the RFU. In a PR blunder, the RFU sent a snooty note to both teams and to drive home the point generously included a black pen in the letter to help them do this. Cambridge, who had the kit sponsored, were less bothered than Oxford, who had all paid for their own footwear. Phil Crowe, their captain, said his boots were held together with tape. "I was angry we were told they would make things difficult for us if we didn't cooperate," he told the Daily Express. The incident was all part of an ongoing row within the sport over players being paid to wear branded footwear. In the game itself teenager Rob Andrew kicked 12 points and set up both tries in Cambridge's 20-3 win.
South African star Percy Montgomery made his comeback after a six-month suspension in Newport-Gwent Dragons' 24-15 Heineken Cup victory over Ulster at Rodney Parade. Montgomery's touchdown two minutes from time sealed a richly deserved win for the Dragons, who were making their tournament debut, and it was a special moment for Montgomery on his first appearance since completing his ban imposed for pushing over a touch judge in a club game between Newport and Swansea. "It was a relief just to be part of the team - it was a great atmosphere out there," said Montgomery. "I am just glad to get the first game over. I am very happy with the win, and although I didn't get too many opportunities with the ball in hand, there will be plenty of other games.
An Irishman, Rupert Jeffares, had to referee the Ireland v New Zealand Test in Dublin after the appointed official from Scotland missed his boat connection.
Oxford included four South African students in the side that won the Varsity Match 14-8, prompting Cambridge students in the crowd to say "we were beaten by Springboxford".
The first sponsored Varsity match - Bowring's in case you ask and no, we can't remember what they did either - ended in a 15-0 win for Cambridge, who became the first side to win five successive matches in the series. Cambridge coach Ian Robertson was forthright post-match when he described Oxford as "pathetic".
One of the most dismal Varsity matches ended in a 5-5 draw with the Daily Express' Pat Marshall clearly upset at a day of his life wasted, along with 60,000 other "sad souls who pleaded for just one spark of offensive action during the last, dismal 15 minutes while the light and dark blues wound up this 84th meeting like nervous bunnies … to think 30 university men wasted eight weeks' academic time to produce a shocker like this".
Bernard Jacot, a strapping wing from Birmingham, scored a hat-trick in Oxford's 17-14 Varsity success. The game was the last of the series to be staged at Queen's before its permanent move to Twickenham.
Newly-installed Wales coach Warren Gatland caused a media storm by insisting that he was out to 'break' his new charges to test their mental toughness. The straight-talking Kiwi inherited a squad in ruins following a pool stage exit from the Rugby World Cup at the hands of Fiji in September. "At times in training we're going to put them under some stress, under some pressure," Gatland said. "I'm going to tell the players that now there's time to train I'm going to try and break a couple of them. I'm going to try and break them physically and mentally and see how tough they are."
Phil Hawthorne, Australia's outstanding fly-half, turned professional, joining St George rugby league in Sydney for a fee reported to be in the region of Aus$ 30,000 (approx £12k).