Lomu thunders on to the world stage
Jonah Lomu scores against Ireland on this day in 1995
© PA Photos
New Zealand unleashed Jonah Lomu in their opening match of the Rugby World Cup. The giant wing scored two tries against Ireland in the All Blacks' convincing 43-19 win in Johannesburg. He impressed Tony Bodley in the Daily Express. "At 19 stones he is heavier than George Foreman. His hand-off has the power of a Mike Tyson uppercut. And he can sprint almost as fast as Linford Christie. No wonder, then, that when Jonah Lomu runs down the wing players bounce off him as bullets do off Robocop." It emerged after the game Lomu had turned down £500,000 to switch codes and join Wigan while there was also talk of an approach from the Dallas Cowboys.
Five days after putting 70 points past Italy, hosts New Zealand were at it again at the inaugural World Cup as they thumped Fiji 74-13 at Lancaster Park.
The Heineken Cup final was staged in May for the first time, Northampton pipping Munster 9-8 at Twickenham in front of 68,441 spectators. The Irish side scored the only try through openside David Wallace, but were undone by the boot of Saints' Paul Grayson. Grayson landed three penalties to cancel out Wallace's effort and secure the Saints' first silverware in their history.
The southern hemisphere's Super 12 Grand Final was the best yet, Crusaders defeating the Brumbies 20-19 in a pulsating match at Canberra's Bruce Stadium. Andrew Mehrtens slotted home a 40 metre penalty with just three minutes left and the Brumbies two points in front to settle the outcome. The New Zealaders had always looked like winning their third consecutive title, with Mehrtens scoring 15 points and No.8 Ron Cribb scoring a vital second-half try.
The Super 14 Final went ahead despite thick fog shrouding Jade Stadium. Crusaders beat the Hurricanes 19-12 to win the title for the sixth time. Conditions worsened as the match wore on and sections of the crowd in the multi-storied Western Stand were reportedly forced to leave the ground because they couldn´t see the field. Television coverage was also adversely affected.
Richmond, a founder member of the RFU, took another step towards oblivion with the resignation of six players and several backroom staff after a financial meltdown when the lofty ambitions of tax exile Ashley Levett failed to be meet and he pulled the plug. An unwanted merger with London Scottish followed and the new entity was in turn swallowed by the London Irish. The amateur club was reformed in 2000.
The Ospreys secured the inaugural RaboDirect PRO12 title thanks to a nail-biting 31-30 win over Leinster at the RDS in Dublin. In Shane Williams' last ever game for the Welsh region, the diminutive winger ducked out of Rob Kearney's challenge to wriggle over in the right corner for a 78th-minute try. Williams' score made it a one-point game and Dan Biggar showed nerves of steel to land the difficult conversion, etching the Ospreys into the record books as the first team to win four league titles.
After leading 9-3, the Lions conceded two late scores to draw the opening Test of their series against the All Blacks. Ken Jones and Jackie Kyle had given Karl Mullen's Lions the lead before All Blacks skipper Ron Elvidge and his centre partner Roy Roper stole a share of the spoils for the home side.
Wales suffered another heavy defeat on tour, beaten 22-9 by Northern Transvaal in Pretoria.
Wales played on New Zealand soil for the first time. They opened their short tour with a 9-9 draw against Taranaki at New Plymouth.
Otago, in their first-ever engagement with Scotland, maintained their proud record against touring teams, beating the visitors 19-15 thanks to three Laurie Mains penalty goals.
Andy Irvine's Scottish team opened their tour of New Zealand with a 39-13 win against King Country. Irvine scores 24 of his side's points.