December 17 down the years
South Africa close in on Grand Slam
Ireland's Tom Kiernan was powerless to stop South Africa
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In the 17th match of their tour South Africa beat Ireland 8-3 thanks to an injury-time pushover try by Hugo van Zyl, converted by Dick Lockyear. Ireland had led 3-0 at half-time - only the second time on tour that the Springboks found themselves in arrears. Tom Kiernan started at fullback for Ireland and scored his side's points with a penalty but the Springboks were on their way to the second victory on a Grand Slam tour having already defeated Wales 3-0 in Cardiff.
Former Scotland wing Johnnie Wallace led his native Australia (represented by fifteen New South Wales Waratahs) to a 10-8 defeat against the Scots at Murrayfield. David Chisholm Alasdair Boyle inspired another Scottish victory over the Wallabies on this day in 1966, scoring tries in a 11-5 victory over the tourists at Murrayfield.
England fullback Grahame Parker was forced to withdraw from the second England trial after suffering injury in a car accident driving to the match at Bridgewater. The former England centre Ron Gerrard, from nearby Bath, deputised in the 'Probables' at the last minute.
Teenager Lewis Jones, in his first appearance in a Welsh trial, was the stand-out player in the 'Probables'' 11-3 win against the 'Possibles' at Aberavon. In addition to his sure fullback play he kicked a penalty and converted a try for the winners.
Tony Miller became Australia's most-capped player, making his 37th Test appearance in the match against Scotland at Murrayfield.
The North beat the Midlands 22-7 to become inaugural winners of the RFU's Divisional Championship, a competition introduced to provide England's selectors with a filter process for their Final trial selections. London beats the South/South-West 22-15 in the third/fourth place play-off.
The creation of the Welsh regions moved closer with a meeting between clubs in Cardiff. Tony Brown (Newport), Bernard Jones (Pontypridd), Peter Thomas (Cardiff) and Leighton Samuel (Bridgend) were among those at the meeting while Swansea was represented by its chairman Roger Blyth."We really had a lengthy and constructive debate regarding the future of Welsh rugby and we are very pleased with the progress we have made at this meeting," said Thomas. "We are all very mindful of our responsibility to Welsh rugby. We are now going to report back the detail of our discussions to the chief executives of our respective clubs." The findings of the meeting were put to a WRU committee meeting.