December 13 down the years
Rugby goes 15-a-side
Ireland scrum-half Peter Stringer was born on this day in 1977
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Oxford and Cambridge trialled the "ELV" of its day when the Varsity Match at Kennington Oval became the first major rugby game to be played between teams of 15. A more open game ending in a narrow Oxford victory was reported. Previously the game had been contested by teams of 20, with 13 forwards complemented by three halfbacks, one three-quarter and three fullbacks.
Ireland staged their first home Test. In a 20-a-side match and at a time before scoring by points was introduced, England won by a goal (and two tries) to nil on the Leinster Cricket Ground in Rathmines. Ireland's early Test record was a sorry one and they would not win their first Test until 1881, when they ended a run of 10 defeats by beating Scotland in Belfast.
Munster and Ireland scrum-half Peter Stringer was born in Cork. A feisty link-man, Stringer forged a hugely successful partnership with fly-half Ronan O'Gara in the colours of both Munster and Ireland. Capped over 90 times for his country he also played at two World Cups and tasted Triple Crown and Grand Slam success in the Six Nations. In 2006 his blindside dart around the base of a scrum helped Munster to a cathartic victory over Biarritz in the Heineken Cup final at the Millennium
Stadium in Cardiff.
Ex-Sale flanker David Tait tragically died with reports suggesting that he fell from an apartment block in Hong Kong. During his playing days, Tait spent five years with Sale, who signed him as a teenager, and he made 28 Premiership appearances for them. He was part of England's training squad for the 2008-09 IRB World Sevens Series, but did not play. He later played for Scotland at the 2009 Dubai Sevens but his career was cut short due to injury and he became a corporate finance manager for multinational firm KPMG. Former Sale and England captain Jason Robinson said on Twitter: "Holding back the tears thinking about the loss of David Tait. Lovely young man who will be greatly missed. Thoughts & prayers to his family".
A (then) record aggregate of 41 points were scored in a gripping Varsity
Match at Queen's Club in West Kensington. Welshman Billy Geen (a hat-trick) and the great Ronnie Poulton (two) scored tries for Oxford who won 23-18.
The touring Wallabies escaped with a last-minute win against Swansea. Wing Kevin Bourke crossed for the try that fullback Brian Piper converts to give them an 11-8 victory at St Helen's.
The WRU announced that former Llanelli, Wales and Lions wing Bill Clement would become their new full-time secretary. He left his post as chief internal auditor to Brecon County Council to succeed the late Eric Evans and acting secretary Brice Jenkins.
Barry John and Gareth Edwards steered East Wales to a 3-3 draw against Brian Lochore's All Blacks - the only blot on the tourists' 17-match record.