Jarrett's day in the sun
Keith Jarrett ... a debut to dream of © Getty Images
Eighteen-year-old Keith Jarrett made a sensational debut scoring 19 points for Wales in their famous 34-21 victory against England in Cardiff. Jarrett scored a long-distance try after gathering an England kick and running it back; what made it more remarkable was that he was at fullback, a position he had never played before. He also kicked five conversions and two penalties while Gerald Davies crossed for a brace of tries. This proved to be Wales' only win of the Championship, with their miserable season ending with the Wooden Spoon. While Jarrett was enjoying himself in Cardiff, France were uncharacteristically playing ten-man rugby in Dublin to beat Ireland 11-6. Pierre Villepreux made his Five Nations debut in a win that gives France the Championship title.
A then world record attendance for a club game - 79,842 - saw Clermont beat arch rivals Stade Francais 21-19 in the Top 14. A thrilling match ultimately came down to a battle of the kickers - Brock James and Lionel Beauxis. James slotted the vital penalty that came after a big tackle on Aurelien Rougerie only a few minutes from time. Beauxis had an opportunity to kick a winning penalty with the last kick of the game but missed. The record lasted weeks as the following month 82,208 saw the Leinster-Munster Heineken Cup semi-final at Croke Park.
Ugly scenes at Welford Road where Bath's Ben Clarke accused Leicester's Aadel Kardooni of trying to get him sent off. Clarke was holding the ball when Kardooni, looking to take a quick penalty, tried to take it off him. Clarke pushed Kardooni who according to the Daily Express , "went down as if shot and lay motionless". The referee was unimpressed and Clarke said: "He'll have to do better than that if he wants his acting card from Equity. He looked pretty stupid." Kardooni professed his innocence. "Ben called me a bastard and clipped me across the head, I was off balance and fell over. He's a big bloke and I'm just a small bloke." Leicester won a nasty game 31-21 and Bath's Mike Catt laid much of the blame on Stuart Piercy who he said was "the worst referee I've encountered".
2006A tabloid exclusive revealed England were going to sack coach Andy Robinson after the 2007 Rugby World Cup even if they won it and replace him with England A coach John Wells. As a scoop it stunk. Robinson lasted until November when defeats and the Twickenham crowd calling for his head proved too much for the RFU - he won just nine of his twenty two matches in charge. He was replaced by … Brian Ashton who, the exclusive predicted, was being lined up to be the new forwards coach.
France beat Ireland 15-3 in Dublin to retain the Five Nations Championship title for the third season running. A try from winger Jean Gachassin and penalties from Pierre Albaladejo and Michel Vannier secured victory, with Albaladejo and centre Jacques Bouquet landing drop-goals to put a sheen on the scoreline.
Gerald Davies made his last official appearance for London Welsh before joining Cardiff. The famous Welsh wing failed to score and his side were beaten 48-12 by Newport at Rodney Parade in the Easter Monday match.
Mike Tindall finally broke his silence over the drunken antics during the previous year's World Cup, admitting he had made a "mistake" and adding: "I won't be the last person to get pissed and then realise it wasn't a great idea to drink so much. It's just that the reaction to my mistake turned into a rollercoaster that I couldn't control."
SA Rugby announced the successful applicants for franchises in the expanded Super 14, with the Stormers, Sharks, Bulls, Lions and Cheetahs eventually taking part in the inaugural season.
Bath confirmed that England international Iain Balshaw was leaving the club at the end of the season in order to take up a contract with fellow Premiership side Leeds. Balshaw's season had been ravaged by injury, with the fullback only making six appearances before announcing his departure from the Rec. Balshaw would win the Powergen Cup with Leeds in 2005 and was subsequently selected for the British and Irish Lions tour to New Zealand.
Bath lost their place on the Barbarian calendar after losing 8-3 in their third holiday fixture with the club since 1894.
Penarth beat the Barbarians 10-8 to record their first win in the fixture for 40 years.