December 15 down the years
The Whetton twins are born
Former New Zealand lock Gary Whetton in action against Fiji during the 1987 Rugby World Cup
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Twins Gary and Alan Whetton were born in Auckland, New Zealand. Both players went on to claim international honours with lock Gary also captaining New Zealand on 15 occasions. Gary was first to make his All Blacks bow against South Africa in the infamous "flour bomb" Test at Eden Park in 1981. He then overcame a serious knee injury to become a regular Test selection for the best part of a decade, playing 58 Tests. When Alan was granted his All Blacks debut against Australia in 1984 the brothers shared a notable feat in becoming the first twins to play together for New Zealand at Test level. The last of Alan's 35 international appearances came at the 1991 Rugby World Cup with neither player earning further recognition after the tournament.
Ireland and British & Irish Lions No.8 Jamie Heaslip was born in Tiberias, Israel, where his father Brigadier General Richard Heaslip was serving with the United Nations Interim Force. He emerged on to the Ireland international scene with commanding series of displays in Ireland U21s run to the 2004 World Championship final and broke into the Leinster set-up the following season. His full Ireland debut came in 2006 against the Pacific Islands, and Heaslip also has the distinction of being the 1000th man to represent Ireland. He shared in Ireland's 2009 Six Nations Grand Slam success before capturing the Heineken Cup crown with Leinster. He was rewarded with a place on the 2009 British & Irish Lions tour to South Africa where he appeared in all three Tests.
Wallabies forward George Smith capped off an outstanding season by being named the winner of the Australian Rugby Union Players' Association Medal for Excellence for the second year in a row. Smith enjoyed a very impressive 2008 becoming the most capped Australian flanker and also the most capped Wallabies forward - eclipsing the mark of lock John Eales. In addition to taking out the RUPA Medal, Smith was named the Super 14 Player of the Year Award, for the third consecutive year, and became the first player to win the John Eales Medal twice.
Colin Charvis, the most-capped forward in Welsh rugby history, made his first Test start playing in a Sunday match against the Springboks. Wales lose 20-37 in Cardiff.
Irish rugby gave notice of its post-war strength as the international side defeats the British Army 19-3 at Ravenhill in an unofficial international match. A young Queen's University fly-half Jack Kyle made his representative debut on the Irish side.
Micky Steele-Bodger scored the first try of Harlequins' match against Cardiff, but a huge Twickenham crowd watched the Welshmen recover to succeed 23-3, Bleddyn Williams collecting two tries for the winners.
The England selectors took heart from the 30-6 win by the senior team in the trial match at Sunderland. The team went on to win England's first Grand Slam for 29 years.
France, who struggled to beat the Romanians in Bucharest earlier in the year, won the return Test in Bordeaux by 39-0 and promptly name an unchanged team for their opening Five Nations match against Scotland in January.
France needed a late try by Jean Dupuy to hold Romania to a 6-all draw in bitterly cold conditions in Toulouse.