Bath go from zeros to heroes
Mike Tindall applauds the home fans after Bath escaped relegation with a last-day win © Getty Images
Bath escaped relegation from the Premiership with a last-day 24-12 win over Newcastle, a result which condemned Bristol, who a week before had beaten Bath, to the drop. It was the second year they had finished second bottom. Coach Michael Foley said: "The sure sign of madness is expecting a change when you are doing the same thing. If we don't strengthen we will be in the same position again." They strengthened so well that the following season they won the league.
Bill Beaumont's Lions began their South African tour at Port Elizabeth, beating Eastern Province 28-16 with tries from Mike Slemen, Elgan Rees and Terry Holmes. Stuart Lane, capped five times by Wales, went off after 35 seconds with wretched knee ligaments without ever having touched the ball and returned home.
Louis Luyt announced his resignation as South African Rugby Football Union president after initially refusing to quit despite accusations of racism and financial mismanagement. A bitter row had escalated just a few weeks before with Luyt taking President Nelson Mandela to court to prevent a government inquiry into the allegations - a case that was won by the under-fire Luyt.
England started their tour of Australia with a rousing 64-3 rout of Western Australia in Perth, schoolmaster Neil Bennett leading the way with 36 points a drop-goal, three penalties, eight out of nine conversions and two tries) while wing Alan Morley scored four tries.
Despite a petition signed 160,000 urging them not to go, New Zealand left for their tour of South Africa. The agreement of the New Zealand board not to pick any Maori players so as not to upset the apartheid sensibilities angered many.
Karl Mullen's British & Irish Lions began their tour of New Zealand with a 24-3 win against the Marlborough, Nelson, Golden Bay-Motueka selection in Nelson. The Lions managed to win 22 and draw one of 29 matches during the tour that also included a visit to Australia.
In the opening Test of the NZ Cavaliers series, South Africa won 21-15 at Newlands where Naas Botha kicks three penalties, dropped two goals and converted Carel du Plessis's try. The Cavaliers was the name given to the unofficial New Zealand team which toured South Africa at a time when national teams were effectively banned from playing the Springboks because of the republic's apartheid policies. The team included 28 of the 30 players who had been selected for the All Blacks tour scheduled for the year before but cancelled. The Cavaliers were coached by Colin Meads and captained by Andy Dalton and won just one of the four matches against South Africa, although they won seven of their eight other games on the tour.
The Barbarians, on their first visit to South Africa, opened their tour with a 17-all draw with Transvaal in front of 60,000 at Ellis Park. Late tries by Arthur Smith and Tony O'Reilly rescued the tourists after the hosts lead 17-11.
Italy held England B to a 15-15 draw in Rome's Olympic Stadium in front of 40,000 spectators, Marcus Rose's penalty seven minutes from time allowing England to draw level after a game where they won plaudits for running the ball as opposed to trying to grind their opponents down.