Scotland brave a new world
Martin Johnson and Neil Back bade farewell to Welford Road on this day in 2005 © Getty Images
Scotland made history by becoming the first Home Union to play a Test overseas. The Scots travelled to South Africa but lost 18-10 to the Springboks in Port Elizabeth. Flanker Hugo van Zyl crossed for two tries for the hosts, who also got on the scoresheet thanks to further tries from skipper Des van Jaarsveldt and scrum-half Mannetjies Gericke, with both players playing their only Test matches - they were among eight debutants for the Spingboks whose packed had a 20lb-a-man advantage.
Leicester legends Martin Johnson and Neil Back bade a triumphant playing farewell to Welford Road with a standing ovation from a Tigers crowd singing along to Tina Turner's Simply the Best. Emotional scenes followed a 45-10 thrashing of Wasps which secured Tigers their place in the Premiership Grand final at Twickenham, where Johnson and Back played their final games for the club in a 39-14 loss.
Bristol, spearheaded by Stuart Barnes, a recent recruit from Newport, won the RFU Cup for the first time. They beat Leicester 28-22 in front of 33,000 spectators in what many regard as the finest of the early John Player Cup finals. "Every person present was as emotionally and mentally drained as the players were physically shattered," noted the Daily Express. "They had been enthralled by a masterpiece which has done more to promote the competition than all the other 11 finals out together." Bristol's success came without them having played a single home tie.
Munster were confirmed as Magners League champions after their nearest rivals the Ospreys failed to get a bonus point in their 27-18 victory against the Dragons at the Liberty Stadium.
It was confirmed Danny Cipriani had secured an early release from Melbourne Reds midway through the Super Rugby season to allow him to return home to join Sale with immediate effect.
In the then traditional finale to the British season, the Met Police beat London Scottish 13-3 in the final of the Middlesex Sevens staged at Twickenham.
Newport beat old rivals Cardiff 16-15 in the WRU Cup final at the Arms Park. The crowd of 35,000 was a new record for a Cup competition that was in its sixth season.
England manager Clive Woodward handed the captaincy to scrum-half Kyran Bracken when he named a 40-man squad for a five-match tour to Canada and the USA. Saracens scrum-half Bracken was selected to captain his country for the first time, taking over from Martin Johnson, who was one of 18 front line players unavailable because of Lions duty.
Nineteen points from the boot of Grant Fox and a hat-trick of tries by Craig Green brought the New Zealand Cavaliers a comfortable 31-9 victory in their tour match against Orange Free State in Bloemfontein.
The IRB announced the launch of a merit system for appointing referees in major international matches.