February 27 down the years
France secure their place with the big boys
Bob Hiller prepares for the 1971 international against France - his practice paid off as he scored all of England's points in a drawn match © Getty Images
France established themselves as a world power with a 3-0 victory over the touring All Blacks in Paris. Captain Jean Prat scored the only try of the match before half time. At the post-match dinner New Zealand skipper Bob Stewart said: "Without any qualification you were the better side. We have no excuses. We were not good enough. I tried everything a skipper could try in the way of tactics. "In the end I thought the only thing which might have worked would have been to spread a subversive rumour among your side, perhaps to the effect that the Folies Bergere had closed down." France were also rewarded that night with an invitation to tour New Zealand.
France defeated Wales at the Stade de France in the first Six Nations game to be played on a Friday night. In a pulsating affair the French ran out 21-16 winners thanks to tries from Thierry Dusautoir and Cedric Heymans and a big performance from debutant Mathieu Bastareaud. The sides were level at 13 all at the break, with Lee Byrne scoring the Welsh try but France put in a strong second half to deny the Welsh any hopes of a second Grand Slam in a row.
The end of an era as Bath lost their John Player Cup quarter-final at Moseley 4-3, their first loss in the competition in five years. In that time they had won 22 ties and four finals and scored 499 points. Gareth Chilcott, who had played through the four-year run, said: "We have no complaints. Curiously it's almost a relief . There were 15 grown men near to tears at t h e end. I am proud to have been part of a marvellous achievement." They still could have snatched victory but David Trick missed a simple penalty four minutes from time.
The spotlight was on Harlequins hooker Brian Moore who denied he hit Waterloo's Steve Swindells in an off-the-ball incident in a Pilkington Cup tie. A Waterloo official claimed Swindells, who spent the night in hospital with a broken cheekbone, was elbowed off the ball and that they "have the name and address of the culprit". Moore was having none of it. "The allegations are completely without foundation. I don't know how their full-back was injured but other Harlequin players say he was injured tackling Gavin Thompson." It was not a day to remember for the Quins who were also accused of using illegal and dangerous studs after three players were sent off to change their footwear. "The referee was out of his depth" said Quins boss Jamie Salmon. "The occasion was too much for him."
A thrilling finish at Murrayfield saw Ireland beat Scotland 3-0 with Jack Gage, a late replacement, going over in the corner for the game's only score with the last play of the match. Seconds earlier Scotland had been reduced to 14 men when Herbert Waddell had been carried off unconscious and bleeding after an accidental collision. At Twickenham, England had an easier time of it, beating France 11-0 in front of King George V.
Ireland consigned England to their third straight Six Nations defeat with a Ronan O'Gara kicked 14 points and Brian O'Driscoll try kept Ireland on course for the Grand Slam. It was a controversial day for referee Jonathan Kaplan who upset England coach Andy Robinson after he felt the South African official denied them two clear cut tries.
Bob Hiller scored all of England's points in an exciting 14-all draw against championship hopefuls, France, at Twickenham. Roland Bertranne and Jack Cantoni scored the French tries as Pierre Villepreux kicked a penalty and conversion while Jean-Louis Berot added a drop-goal.
Italy's Mauro Bergamasco received a 13-week ban for gouging Wales' Lee Byrne during their Six Nations clash at the Millenium Stadium which Wales won 47-8.
With both sides going for the Grand Slam there were no winners as France and England draw 3-3 in Paris. Centre Mike Weston's try cancelled out fullback Michel Vannier's French penalty. England kept the ball with the forwards for much of the day, a tactic made necessary when winger John Young tore a hamstring earlier on, the same injury which had sidelined him at the 1956 Olympics.
Ireland beat Scotland 6-0 in the final Five Nations championship to be staged at Ravenhill in Belfast. Centre Robin Godfrey and out-half Seamus Kelly scored Ireland's tries as they signed off in style.
The Kiwis, New Zealand's Army Team suffered only the second defeat of their European tour as they lost 15-0 to Monmouthshire at Pontypool. Hedley Rowlands scored a hat-trick of tries, while Newport scrum-half Jim Hawkins starred.