Wales reserves deny France their first championship
Leicester celebrate reaching the Heineken Cup final on this day in 2001 © Getty Images
Wales were forced to field a second XV for their Championship match with France as seven of their players were already on board ship for New Zealand with the Lions touring side. Despite that, Wales won a rough match, 11-0 in front of 50,000 spectators with as many locked outside. Had France won, they would have secured their first Championship title; as it was, the resulted handed the crown to England.
Leicester battled past Gloucester 19-15 at Watford's Vicarage Road to book a Heineken Cup final date with Stade Francais. Tim Stimpson inspired the Tigers' nerve-racking semi-final success, kicking 14 points and creating a superb first-half try for centre Leon Lloyd. But Leicester, who had won the Premiership title in runaway fashion, were given a major fright as Gloucester fought for every scrap of possession and territory. The Tigers had their captain, England skipper Martin Johnson, sin-binned following a 53rd-minute dust-up with Gloucester No.8 Junior Paramore, who was also yellow-carded, and then survived a torrid spell of Gloucester pressure in injury time.
Leicester beat Moseley 15-12 in a hard-fought John Player Cup final at Twickenham after the boot of Dusty Hare had kept them in contention, with the match sealed three minutes from time when Steve Kenney scored a try from a driving maul.
Mike Burton, for so long the bad boy of English rugby, announced his retirement aged 32. Angry at being overlooked by selectors for the Wales match in February, he had refused to be a substitute against Scotland the following month. Sent off four times in a chequered career, he said: "I have reached this decision only after a great deal of thought but I think it is the right time to go. I have always been totally committed and if I carried on I would have to skimp training and that would mean going on the field .unprepared." The establishment were not finished with him, however, banning him for writing a book and having the temerity to keep the proceeds.
Fly-half Andy Goode steered Leicester into the Heineken Cup Final at the expense of Llanelli Scarlets in a thriller at the Walkers Stadium. The England fly-half scored the Tigers' opening try and created another score for Shane Jennings. Goode also kicked 18 points including the conversion of Louis Deacon's late try that sealed a first all-English final with Wasps. Mark Jones and Matt Rees scored tries for the Scarlets but they were unable to hold onto an early lead. The Tigers had lost both previous matches they had played at the Walkers Stadium, to Toulouse in the 2005 semi-finals and then to Bath in the previous season's quarters.
A New Zealand Army XV beat Wales 6-3 in an Easter Monday match at Swansea. The WRU awarded caps to a team that is the first Welsh XV to lose against a New Zealand representative side.
Ireland lock Paul O'Connell was named captain of the 2009 British & Irish Lions for their tour to South Africa later the same year - edging out compatriot and national skipper Brian O'Driscoll. O'Connell, the Munster captain, became the 10th Irishman to lead the elite tourists.
England's Danny Hearn, paralysed in an accident playing for a Divisional combination against the 1967 All Blacks, was invited to be the guest of honour at a special dinner to be hosted by the Suburbs Club in Auckland.
Bristol won their eleventh successive match and passed a thousand points for the season with a 51-6 win against Blackheath at the Memorial Ground.