Tigers shootout win breaks Cardiff
Jordan Crane slots the winning kick after the Heineken Cup semi-final shootout on this day in 2009 © Getty Images
Leicester Tigers booked a Heineken Cup final date with Leinster after beating Cardiff Blues 7-6 in an historic sudden death penalty shoot-out at the Millennium Stadium. No.8 Jordan Crane kicked the all-important place kick for the Tigers after the Blues had fought back bravely to level the match at 26-26 and take the contest into extra time. However, the dramatic shoot-out, the first of its kind in the tournament's 14-year history, was an ill-fitting climax to a match that enthralled from start to finish. With neither side able to break the deadlock in extra time the match would be decided by the kicking prowess of the respective teams. Leicester's Johne Murphy missed his kick from the 22 metre line to give James the chance to win it for the Blues but he also failed to hit the target and as a result the duel went into sudden-death. The final twist in the tale saw the Blues' Martyn Williams pull his effort wide of the posts before Crane stepped up to slot the match-winning kick and set the seal on the most dramatic match in Heineken Cup history.
In the normal course of events an England B team tour to Italy would not register on any radar, but the proximity of their Sicilian base to Libya and the number of Libyans in the country meant extreme security a fortnight after the USA had bombed Tripoli. The team's hotel was heavily guarded with armed guards on every floor, and players were barred from leaving after dark and warned not to visit any towns. False bookings were also made at a number of hotels to try to throw would-be troublemakers off the trail.
A planned boycott of the Heineken Cup by English clubs was averted when the RFU agreed to shelve discussions about entering franchise or regional teams into the competition. The RFU, faced with strike action by clubs and players, had threatened, rather unconvincingly, to play Division One sides instead.
Wales and Scotland were rebuked for their part in the so-called Grannygate scandals that led to ineligible players turning out for them in the Six Nations. A three-man IRB judicial panel heard the WRU admit a charge of fielding ineligible players at Test match level and as a result New Zealand-born pair Shane Howarth and Brett Sinkinson had their international careers put on hold. They were ordered to serve the three-year residential qualification in order to resume playing Test match rugby, although Howarth never played for Wales again. The players, who at the time had 33 caps between them, both understood they had Welsh-born grandparents but could not produce documentary evidence in support of those claims.
France's two top clubs, Perpignan and Tarbes, met in the last French Championship final before the Great War. Perpignan, who fielded a side with no capped international player, won 8-7 at the Stade des Ponts Jumeaux, Toulouse.
Wasps wound up an eventful season for them by beating Harlequins 42-22 to finish champions of the Courage Leagues.
Llanelli proved too strong for Newport as they ran out 32-9 winners in the Principality Cup final at the Millennium Stadium. The Scarlets overcame a 9-3 deficit after 30 minutes to score 29 unanswered points and secure their 12th Welsh cup triumph since the competition began in 1972.
Roger Ramis, the Perpignan captain, was the Man of the Match in the French Championship final in Narbonne. He scored the only try and converted it in his side's 5-0 triumph against Carcassonne.
The South American Jaguars concluded their first visit to South Africa, losing the Durban Test against the Springboks 18-9. For the home side, Naas Botha dropped three goals, kicked a penalty and converted Morné du Plessis's try.
The rebel New Zealand Cavaliers team touring South Africa lost for the first time, beaten 24-19 by Transvaal at Ellis Park.