Carling reinstated ... but trouble is store
Saracens' celebrate their cup win on this day in 1998 © Getty Images
Five days after his infamous "old farts" TV interview and three days after the aforementioned farts fired his, Will Carling was reinstated as England captain after the RFU blazers utterly misread the public mood, that of Carling's team-mates, and even 100 MPS tabled a motion in the House of Commons demanding the decision be reversed. Buried inside the Daily Express was gossip that was to grow and grow in the months ahead as Ross Benson reported that Carling and Princess Diana had been meeting regularly. "They seem totally relaxed together," Benson said he had been told. "Diana is very giggly with him. Will loves it."
The reason for Gavin Henson's recall for Wales against the Barbarians was more about putting bums on seats than tactics. Asked to explain his recall, coach Warren Gatland seemed unsure. "That's a good question, isn't it?" he said. "I'm pretty sure the marketing team are happy but I haven't had that discussion with them." he then added, somewhat unconvincingly. "It's definitely a rugby reason."
Dean Richards was named as the coach of newly relegated Harlequins, waiting to sign until their demise had been confirmed. "I believe there is a huge potential here and it's a case of realising that potential," he said. He led to immediate promotion but his tenure ended in scandal in 2009 when he was at the heart of Bloodgate.
Saracens overwhelmed Wasps 48-18 in the Tetley's Bitter Cup final at Twickenham to secure their first piece of major silverware. Superstars Michael Lynagh and Philippe Sella, both making their last big match appearances before retirement, made significant contributions. French centre Sella scoring a sixth-minute try and Australian Lynagh kicking five conversions and a drop goal. Leicester Tigers stalwart and former England captain Martin Corry also announced that he would retire at the end of the season.
Leicester Tigers and London Irish booked their places in the 2008-09 Guinness Premiership Final with victories over Bath and Harlequins respectively. Leicester progressed to their fifth successive final with a 24-10 victory over their old rivals at the Walkers Stadium with Dan Hipkiss, Sam Vesty and Lewis Moody all touching down. Tries from James Hudson and a 37-year-old Mike Catt propelled the Exiles into their first Premiership final as they recorded a 17-0 win at The Stoop.
Saxon White was the bolter in the Australian team announced for the tour to South Africa. The teenaged centre played himself into the tour party with a mature performance appearing in the Australia v The Rest trial at the SCG. He eventually made his international debut against the Springboks in the 9-0 defeat in Sydney on May 26, 1956. He would play six more times for the Wallabies with his last cap coming against New Zealand Maori in Melbourne on July 5, 1958.
ACT strengthened their semi-final claims in that year's Super 12 with a 48-34 win against Waikato Chiefs in Canberra on the penultimate weekend of the tournament's round-robin stages. Joe Roff grabbed two of the home side's tries with Owen Finegan, Stephen Larkham, George Gregan, Mitch Hardy and Troy Coker also touching down for scores.
John Nolan became the first British player to score a hat-trick of tries in a tour match, crossing three times against Canterbury at Lancaster Park, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Ahead of the England Test tour to New Zealand, the All Black Trials began in Wellington where the Possibles gave the selectors a headache by beating the Probables 21-17.