January 28 down the years
The drop-goal that never was
Jim Ritchie of Ireland was handed the rare honour of leading his country on his Test debut. His side was beaten 14-8 by France in Paris and Ritchie played only once more for Ireland. Michel Vannier's second-half drop goal was mired in controversy. As Ireland's Joe Gaston cleared his lines Peter Cooper, the referee, blew his whistle as he had spotted the Irish hooker offside. But Vannier gathered the ball and launched a massive kick from the touchline near halfway and the referee changed his mind and gave the three points. Today there would be uproar. But Ritchie just smiled. "So what if the ref was wrong? A drop goal like that was worth three points, laws or no laws." Cooper himself was unrepentant. " Good job I looked over my shoulder and spotted the ball going over the bar wasn't It ? I am convinced I made the only possible decision in the circumstances."
Wales recorded their first win at international level with a victory over Ireland by two goals to nil in an ill-tempered match in Dublin. Wales had lost their first Test, against England at Blackheath, a year earlier. Captain Charles Lewis scored the two decisive conversions, with four tries scored to Thomas Baker-Jones, Tom Clapp, Jamies Bridie and Bill Evans. Irish threequarter Joseph Atkinson had the worst of the exchanges and suffered a heavy blow to his nose, while Ireland were described as having a "dormant apathy" by the Irish Times.
Douglas (Daniel) Lambert of England established a then Championship record by scoring 22 points in the 37-0 victory against France at Twickenham. The winger scored two tries, five conversion and two penalties. Well-preserved film of this international match can be seen in the Museum of Rugby at Twickenham Stadium.
Ireland thanked debutant scrum-half John Burges for a last-minute drop-goal that earned a 3-3 draw against France in Paris. The scoring system which reduced a drop-goal from four to three points had only been introduced two years before.
Leicester Tigers head coach Heyneke Meyer resigned from his post with the club after a lengthy period of compassionate leave in South Africa. Meyer returned to South Africa in Decemeber 2008 in order to deal with a severe family illness, and felt "unable to return" to his position with Leicester.
Four schools in Gloucester shut because of fears the pupils could be inadvertently caught up in anti-apartheid protests at the nearby Kingsholm where the Springboks were playing their penultimate match against Southern Counties. They won a low-key affair 13-0 and protesters were few and far between.