Carling reinstated ... but trouble is store
Saracens' Michael Lynagh and Philippe Sella taste success in the Tetley Bitter Cup final against Wasps in 1998
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On the day Will Carling was reinstated as England captain days after being fired for calling the RFU committee "old farts" another bigger story was brewing. 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."
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.
New Zealand international Carlos Spencer announced that he had signed to play for Northampton. The mercurial fly-half, capped 35 times by the All Blacks, made the lucrative switch to the northern hemisphere from from Auckland where he had also played for the Blues in Super Rugby. Only three players have scored more Test points than Spencer for New Zealand - Grant Fox, Andrew Mehrtens and Daniel Carter. In 2009 he switched to the Saints' Premiership rivals Gloucester.
Saxon White was the bolter in the Wallaby 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.