O'Gara brutally assaulted by McRae
Lions fly-half Ronan O'Gara licks his wounds after being mauled by the Waratahs' Duncan McRae
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Jason Robinson scored two tries as the Lions, in their last Saturday game before the Test series, rattled up an encouraging 41-24 victory against the Waratahs in Sydney.
The match was marred by a violent attack by the Waratahs' Duncan McRae on Lions fly-half Ronan O'Gara with the Australian receiving his marching orders from referee Scott Young. In front of the subsequent disciplinary panel McRae claimed he was the victim of a swinging arm and a kick to his stomach but accepted that his reaction was extreme and issued an apology. The Committee concluded that this was "a very serious incident, a repeated striking of a player on the ground who was in no real position to defend himself" and handed McRae a seven-week ban.
Ireland suffered their biggest defeat to the All Blacks as they lost 60-0 in Hamilton, just seven days after coming agonisingly close to recording their first victory over them. The All Blacks ran in nine tries in an awesome display of power and precision as they completed a 3-0 series whitewash over the Irish, who failed to register a point against the All Blacks for the first time in 88 years. Young flanker Sam Cane scored two tries as did centre Sonny Bill Williams, while Hosea Gear, Liam Messam, Ben Smith, Adam Thomson and Israel Dagg also touched down for the world champions.
It was a particularly disappointing defeat for Ireland skipper Brian O'Driscoll as it was potentially his last opportunity to lead Ireland to victory over the All Blacks.
On the eve of the World Cup Final in South Africa, details were released regarding the inaugural Tri-Nations international tournament and the provincial Super 12 programme. The deal was the first struck between SANZAR - the umbrella organisation incorporating South Africa, New Zealand and Australia - and Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. The 10-year agreement, that also included in-bound tours, was worth £360m.
The first season of Super Rugby took place in 1996 The teams from Australia and New Zealand were regionally-based franchises while South Africa rewarded the top four sides in the Currie Cup with a place in the competition.
The Six Nations Committee confirmed that Graham Henry, the Welsh team coach, would coach the 2001 Lions in Australia. Henry, a former teacher, was the first non-British or Irish man to be given the honour and subsequently chose England's Martin Johnson to captain the side having also skippered the tourists in 1997.
His coaching career began with Auckland Grammar School before moving on to Kelston Boys' High School but he made his name with Auckland and the Blues before making a high-profile switch to Wales in 1998. His success with the principality saw him nicknamed the 'Great Redeemer' but he returned to his native New Zealand in 2002 and took charge of the All Blacks in 2004.
New Zealand Maori completed their centenary season with a stunning 35-28 victory over England in a thrilling clash at McLean Park in Napier. A hat-trick from winger Hosea Gear and another try from captain Liam Messam carried the hosts to a famous win with centre Luke McAlister delivering a pivotal performance in midfield. Tries from flanker Steffon Armitage, scrum-half Danny Care and winger Chris Ashton had put England ahead at the break with fly-half Charlie Hodgson weighing in with 13 points but they were kept scoreless in the second period by a determined Maori side and not even the introduction of a host of front line stars could prevent a disappointing end to an otherwise impressive tour that had included victory over Australia the week before.
The British & Irish Lions were held 13-13 by a dogged Emerging Springboks side at Newlands in their final midweek match of the tour. The Lions pulled ahead thanks to a try from fullback Keith Earls and penalties from skipper Ronan O'Gara and replacement fly-half James Hook, but were dramatically undone by a late try from replacement Danwel Demas and a nerveless conversion from Western Province fly-half Willem de Waal.
Arthur Smith's Lions in South Africa drew the opening Test of a four-match series in Johannesburg. Ken Jones runs 40 yards to score the equalising try for the Lions after John Gainsford had put the Springboks in front.
In the last match before their opening Test of the series against South Africa, the All Blacks recorded an easy 31-3 success against Natal in Pietermaritzburg. The tourists scored six tries to none - the best try-return and points score of the tour to that date.
The touring Springboks had to struggle to win in New Zealand, coming from behind to succeed 8-6 thanks to Paul Johnstone's conversion of Pee-Wee Howe's second-half try.