England and Australia begin a famous rivalry
Peter de Villiers looks on as Oregan Hoskins digs a large hole © Getty Images
Australia beat a spirited England side 9-3 in the last rugby international staged at Blackheath. In what was the first Test between the two countries, Boxer Russell scored a brace for the Wallabies, with hooker Norm Row adding a third. On the wing for England was Edgar Mobbs, the legendary Northampton skipper whose death in World War 1 was commemorated with the annual Mobbs' Memorial Match between the Barbarians and East Midlands.
The press conference announcing the appointment of Peter de Villiers as South Africa's first non-white coach become a heated affair when the SARU president Oregan Hoskins told reporters it had not been made "entirely for rugby reasons". Hoskins backtracked rapidly with assertions that his comments did not "tarnish Peter" but the damage had been done. The controversial de Villiers remained in the role until 2011.
Wales lead the way by fielding a four-man three-quarter line in an international match for the first time. Defeat by Scotland put their new tactical plan on hold for another two years. Skipper Frank Hancock led Wales, alongside Arthur Gould, who had a week earlier employed the accepted formation of two halfbacks, three three-quarters and nine forwards.
Arthur Gould, leading Wales for the last time, steered them to an 11-0 victory over England at Newport's Rodney Parade. He retired with 27 Welsh caps and having led his country 18 times - national records at the time, under a cloud of controversy. A testimonial organised by fans raised hundreds of pounds for the player, apparently contravening IFRB rules on professionalism. After a protracted row, Wales withdrew from international fixtures in the Spring of 1897, returning in England fixture the following season minus Gould.
Ireland were unable to emulate Ulster's feat of holding the All Blacks. The New Zealanders ran out 14-3 winners of the Test at Lansdowne Road with tour skipper Bob Stuart scoring one of their tries and his back-row colleague Bill Clark crossing for another.
Ken Scotland made his 27th and final Test appearance for Scotland on the same ground where he had made his debut eight years earlier. Scotland, with Lions legend Jim Telfer at No.8, lost 16-8 at Stade Colombes, Paris thanks in part to a brace from French wing. Christian Darrouy
The Barbarians-Australians tour finale in Cardiff was cancelled owing to heavy overnight snow. The stranded tourists had to be air-lifted from their Porthcawl hotel to London Airport by helicopter to catch their flight home.
Scotland announced the tour of South Africa proposed for the summer had been cancelled. The South African Rugby Board withdrew the invitation when it became clear the SRU was not keen on the move after coming under intense pressure when details were leaked to the media. Danie Craven, the SARB president, said that alternatives were being sought but refused to go into details because "these people come under tremendous pressure as soon as the news leaks out."
Former All Black scrum-half Justin Marshall was suspended by his club, Top 14 side Montpellier, after refusing to take to the field as a late replacement. Marshall refused to enter the fray in the latter stages of Montpellier's 34-0 loss to Toulouse at the Stade Ernest Wallon.