On This Day

  • May 31 down the years

Senna wins first Monaco Grand Prix

Ayrton Senna would go onto win the Monaco a record six times © Getty Images
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1987
Ayrton Senna won the Monaco Grand Prix for the first time. Britain's Nigel Mansell started on pole but his exhaust gave out after 29 laps and Senna set a fastest lap on the way to finishing well clear of Nélson Piquet.

On the same day in 1992, Senna won the race for the fourth time in a row and the fifth in all, equalling the record set by Graham Hill on May 18 1969. Again Mansell started from pole; this time it was he who set the fastest lap; and he was only 0.22 seconds behind Senna at the finish. If he'd won, he would have been the only driver to win the first six races of a Formula 1 season. He won the title at long last, and he won it big: by 52 points. Senna won in Monaco yet again on May 23 1993.

1959
In Formula 1, The Dutch Grand Prix produced three firsts, one of which was an only. BRM (British Racing Motors) had been entering World Championship races for ten years. Today they won one for the first time, thanks to the first Swedish driver to win a World Championship race. It was Jo Bonnier's only podium finish in 104 starts. He started on pole but Britain's Stirling Moss set the fastest lap and was in the lead when his gearbox gave out with 13 laps left, leaving Bonnier to hold off Jack Brabham, who went on to win the drivers' title for the first time.

1953
The first official world record in the 100 metres butterfly. The stroke had emerged from breaststroke, when some bright spark noticed there was nothing in the rules to stop you lifting your arms out of the water. So for several years world breaststroke records were set by butterfliers. Eventually the 'fly was recognised as a separate stroke, and today György Tumpek of Hungary swam 1 minute 04.3 seconds in a 25-metre pool. He set the first five world records in the event - then in 1957 the first long-course record.

1975
The first player sent off while playing rugby union for England. The opening Test on the tour had been a scandal. The aggression of Australian forwards like Steve Finnane (who broke Graham Price's jaw in 1978) and Ray Price had to be experienced to be believed. Today the second Test exploded early on. Stuart Macdougall kicked England Barry Nelmes while he was on the deck, and Nelmes's fellow prop Mike Burton was set off for obstruction. Down to 14 men almost immediately, England did well to lose only 30-21. Australia scored five tries to two but were well beaten when they came to England in the winter and didn't play internationals controlled by one of their own referees.

1980
In the first Test of their South African tour, the British Lions lost only 26-22, but the scoreline hid the Springboks' almost total domination out wide. Keeping the ball away from the dominant Lions pack, they scored five tries, and the visitors stayed in range only because Ireland fly-half Tony Ward kicked 18 points, a Lions record until June 27 2009. The 1980 series was decided in the third Test on June 28.

Sean Fitzpatrick holds the world record for the most consecutive international appearences © Getty Images
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At the 1995 rugby union World Cup, a number of teams rested key players after today's games, which put an end to several long runs, including the longest of all.

This was the last of Sean Fitzpatrick's 63 consecutive caps, which is still the world record. Captaining the All Blacks from hooker as always, he led them to their usual easy win over Wales: 34-9 this time. In response to three tries and 19 points by Andrew Mehrtens, Wales could manage only a drop goal and a couple of penalties by Neil Jenkins. The two sides went into their last group match on June 4 with very different objectives. Wales to avoid elimination against Ireland, New Zealand to see how many points they could put on Japan. Fitzpatrick was miffed to miss that little outing.

Including today's match against Canada, another hooker, Phil Kearns, won 46 consecutive caps for Australia. David Campese won 42. They were both rested for the easy game with Romania three days later. Canada gave their usual gritty account of themselves, especially among the forwards, where Al Charron scored a try. But Australia had too much class as always, scoring three tries, including two by their many class acts. On his debut, tall winger Joe Roff scored the first of his 30 international tries - and their captain Michael Lynagh scored his last of his 17, ten years after his first. He contributed 17 points to a 27-11 win.

Prop forward Jason Leonard played the last of his 40 consecutive matches for England. The Underwood brothers both scored tries, matching the Hastings brothers the day before. But Italy scored two tries too, including one by Leonard's opposite number, their captain Massimo Cuttitta. The Italian scrum was typically tough, and England were needed five penalty goals from Rob Andrew to win 27-20.

As usual, Japan's backs tried hard to make up for their shortcomings up front. Their fly-half passed the ball 25 times against Ireland's three. And they scored four tries and 28 points. But Ireland scored seven and 50. Two of their scores were penalty tries. Fly-half, Paul Burke landed six conversions and a penalty. But an early shoulder injury put talismanic hooker Keith Wood out of the match and the rest of the tournament.

1986
Playing for Bristol against Oakville Crusaders in Ontario, winger Alan Morley scored his 479th and last try in first-class rugby union, a world record that hasn't been broken since.

2004
Kenenisa Bekele was only 21 when he ran the 5,000 metres in 12 minutes 37.35 seconds, a world record that still stands. Hs time was 2.01 seconds faster than the one set by fellow Ethiopian Haile Gebresilasie six years earlier.

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