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Scrum Sevens
Christmas crackers
ESPNscrum Staff
December 23, 2010
Haydn Tanner terrorised New Zealand in 1935 © Getty Images
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Christmas Day is around the corner and the touring southern hemisphere superpowers are long gone from European shores. It's just as well considering the current arctic conditions across the continent, but back in the day the tourists would have been bedding down for a while longer yet. In our latest Scrum Seven we've delved into the history books to select some Christmas crackers played in the build-up to the big day.

Wales 13-12 New Zealand, National Stadium, Cardiff, December 21, 1935

One of Wales' three victories over the mighty All Blacks, this was the game that introduced the legendary Haydn Tanner to the international stage. The teenager had made a name for himself by playing a pivotal role in one of the all-time great tour victories over New Zealand, when he and fellow Gowerton schoolboy Willie Davies wrote a famous chapter in Welsh rugby history in the white of Swansea. After All Black skipper Jack Manchester had pleaded with the press to cover up the manner of their defeat at St. Helen's , they went in search of revenge over the fresh-faced Tanner. Welsh skipper Claud Davey and winger Geoffrey Jones, who bagged a brace, led the scoring for the home side, who extended their avantage over New Zealand with a second win in three meetings despite losing debutant hooker Don Tarr with a broken neck.

England 11-8 South Africa, Twickenham, London, December 20, 1969

Bob Hiller led England to their first win over South Africa in this festive showdown, at the sixth attempt. With the help of an overhead projector, the former Cambridge double blue delivered a rousing pre-match speech and was duly rewarded. Hiller weighed in with five points in an era when his boot dominated England's scoring, with second-rower Peter Larter and hooker John Pullin both crashing over for tries. Piet Greyling scored for the tourists, who endured a miserable time and also lost to Scotland, Cardiff and Oxford University before salvaging draws with Wales and Ireland.

Wales 0-6 New Zealand, National Stadium, Cardiff, December 21, 1963

Around 60,000 fans braved bitterly cold conditions to see the All Blacks roll out of Cardiff with their first win in the Welsh capital. Don 'The Boot' Clarke and fly-half Bruce Watt shared the points, Watt landing a drop-goal. The Kiwis were denied the rarest of northern hemisphere clean sweeps by a 0-0 draw with Scotland on January 18, with the other three home unions and France all succumbing in Test matches. The All Blacks also returned to Cardiff toward the end of their tour, beating the Barbarians 36-3 before a brief stop off for two games against British Columbia in Canada, but were able to avoid a return to Newport - the site of their sole lost match on tour.

Wales 28-3 Australia, National Stadium, Cardiff, December 20, 1975

The Wallabies felt the full force of JJ Williams in this winter warmer, with Wales' premier sprinter shredding the tourists for a hat-trick. Williams had been switched to the right wing at late notice following an injury to Gerald Davies but did not miss a beat, with Gareth Edwards also breaching the Australian rearguard for a try. The Wallabies had already lost to Scotland and Cardiff and would also fall to a heavy defeat against England, a small amount of redemption coming with a win over Ireland and another over the USA on a whistle-stop stay in North America.

Wales 13-8 New Zealand, National Stadium, Cardiff, December 19, 1953

As he was cheered from the field by a big crowd at the Arms Park, Bleddyn Williams would not have been fearing for a terrible losing streak to overtake Wales. As history played out however, the venerable Cardiff centre remains the last Welshman to captain his country to victory over the All Blacks. A storied occasion that has become a millstone, this win saw the legendary Ken Jones crash over for the winner after flanker Sid Judd had earlier found a chink of light in the visitors' defence. The game saw debuts for Kiwi try scorer Bill Clark and second five-eighth BBJ Fitzpatrick, father of the legendary Sean.

Wales 3- 6 South Africa, National Stadium, Cardiff, December 22, 1951

Williams again enjoyed a moment to remember two years earlier as the Springboks arrived in Cardiff for a match billed as the 'unofficial world championship'. The mifielder's try was all that Wales could muster as the tourists scraped home, Chum Ochse crossing the whitewash and Hannes Brewis bisecting the uprights with a drop-goal. The tourists had already smashed Scotland at Murrayfield and defeated Ireland, setting up a Grand Slam which was achieved with victory over England. France also fell as a remarkable clean sweep was achieved, with London Counties the only side to get one over on the South Africans. Their tour wound down with a record of played 31, won 30.

Wales 1G, 2T - 0 New Zealand Natives, St. Helen's, Swansea, December 22, 1888

The 'Natives' tour is a major building block in the history of the game and this Swansea showdown was also the first time Wales had played an international against overseas opposition. The 'Natives' included tour instigator Joseph Warbrick in their side for a game that it's easy to lose among the remarkable wider statistics of the tour. In total they played 107 games of rugby, winning 78, eight Aussie Rules fixtures and two Association Football matches. They proved less adept at the other disciplines, losing both 'soccer' matches and five Aussie Rules ties.

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