Kidney confirmed as new Ireland coach
Munster coach Declan Kidney signalled his intent to give up his provincial commitments for the international stage on this day in 2008.
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Declan Kidney was confirmed as Ireland's new head coach. His commitments to Munster meant that he did not take over the reins until after Ireland's end-of-season tour to Australia and New Zealand. Speaking after the announcement, Kidney said, "There is no greater honour for any coach then to lead his own country. The challenge going forward for the Ireland team and Irish rugby as a whole is to continue the growth and success on the field. I am excited about the challenge and looking forward to working with the players." The 48-year-old succeed Eddie O'Sullivan, who stood down following a 4th place finish in that year's Six Nations, but not before steering Munster to the 2008 Heineken Cup title with a famous victory over Toulouse at the Millennium Stadium.
John Dawes' Lions flew out of London at the start of their tour of Australia and New Zealand, where they became the only British/Irish side to claim a Test series victory over the All Blacks. Coached by Carwyn James and managed by Doug Smith, the Lions lost only two of their 26 tour matches but it was there performance in the Test series that ensured their place in history. They won the 1st Test in Dunedin 9-3 but the hosts levelled the series with a 22-12 victory in Christchurch. A 13-3 win in the 3rd Test in Wellington put the Lions on the brink and history was made when the All Blacks could only manage a 14-14 draw in the series finale in Auckland.
Lions and Wales fly-half Barry John, aged only 27 and at the height of his powers, shocked his followers by announcing his retirement from the game. Arguably the greatest fly-half the game had ever seen, John described what he called "the monster of fame" as his reason for leaving his rugby career behind and after hanging up his boots he disappeared from the public eye altogether. His decision brought the curtain down on a short but impressive career that included 25 caps for Wales but it was on the 1971 Lions tour to New Zealand where his star shone brightest of all - earning him the nickname 'The King'. At 5'9" tall and weighing less than 12 stone, John's advantage over his opponents was always based on skill rather than strength but despite his slight appearance he left a hefty impression on the game in Wales and beyond.
South African Rugby Football Union members voted narrowly in favour of a motion to force the resignation of its controversial president, Louis Luyt, at an Extraordinary General Meeting. Luyt, who had been accused of racism and financial mismanagement, said the vote was unconstitutional and refused to stand down. "He rules with an intransigence that denies discussion and a dogma which makes the Vatican look liberal, an appropriate allusion perhaps since, to the Afrikaaner, rugby is a religion," wrote Ian Wooldridge in the Daily Mail. The bitter row had escalated just a few weeks before with Luyt taking President Nelson Mandela to court to prevent a government inquiry into the allegations - a case that was won by the under-fire Luyt. However, Luyt finally bowed to pressure and resign from his post just days later.
Lock forward Hamish Kemp created a stir during the final match of Scotland's short tour to South Africa. The Glasgow HSFP forward kicked a goal from a mark in Scotland's 30-16 win against East Transvaal.
Top Australian fullback Jim Lenehan dislocated his left elbow playing in a club match at Wagga Wagga and was ruled out of the mini-series against the British/Irish Lions.
A then record crowd for a club match attended the Llanelli-Neath WRU Cup Final. The Scarlets ran out 28-13 winners at Cardiff's National Stadium.