On This Day

  • December 16 down the years

The most famous game of rugby ever?

The sporting events of December 16 down the years
Dave Gallaher led the All Blacks with distinction © New Zealand Rugby Museum
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1905
Still one of the most famous and controversial rugby matches of all time. The first All Blacks to tour the Northern Hemisphere had cut a whacking great swathe across British rugby. Using a revolutionary seven-man scrum with a roving flank forward who was routinely offside, they began by scoring 12 tries against Devon, who became county champions later that season. By the time they faced Wales, New Zealand had won all 27 matches so far, 22 of them without conceding a score. They'd beaten both Ireland and England 15-0 and hadn't conceded a point since beating Scotland 12-7 eight matches earlier. But Wales were an experienced side, studded with some of the great names in their history: Gwyn Nicholls, Dicky Owen, Boxer Harding, Willie Llewellyn, George Travers. Teddy Morgan scored a try in the first half, and the All Blacks were hampered by referee John Dallas, who'd played for Scotland two years earlier. Every time New Zealand's iffy flanker, their captain Dave Gallaher, fed the ball into the scrums, he was whistled offside. Eventually, in the second half, the moment that made the match an eternal talking point. Taking a pass from the great Billy Wallace, centre Bob Deans dived for the corner. To his dying day, he claimed he grounded the ball over the line before Morgan pulled him back. Welshmen were equally adamant that he fell short and tried to wriggle over the line in Morgan's grasp. New Zealand won the remaining seven matches of their tour, but Wales won this one 3-0.

2001
World champion Ronnie O'Sullivan won the UK Championship for the third time by blitzing Ken Doherty 10-1 - after Doherty had won the second frame! A record scoreline for the final of the event, it was equalled by Stephen Maguire against David Gray three years later.

1969
Swimmer Michelle Smith was born. No other Irish competitor can match her three Olympic gold medals, all from the 1996 Games. No other competitor, from any country, has received so little acclaim after winning so much shiny stuff. There were suspicions at the time. The previous year, she'd won her first European Championship titles at the age of 25; she was setting huge personal bests at an age when she should have been in decline; and her coach and future husband Erik de Bruin was a former discus thrower who'd been banned for taking drugs. In 1998, his wife was banned too, after tampering with a urine sample. Nowadays she prefers not to discuss her swimming career in public. No need, really.

1995
Two of England's World Cup winners achieved firsts against Samoa at Twickenham. Matt Dawson made his debut, Lawrence Dallaglio made his first start and scored his first try. Without playing well, England won 27-9, mainly thanks to Paul Grayson's boot, which kicked 17 points.

1996
In the thin air at Reno, Nevada, Canada's Olympic 100 metres champion Donovan Bailey set a world record that still stands by running 50 metres indoors in 5.56 seconds.

1903
Harry Whitlock was born in Hendon. He won the 50 kilometre walk at the 1936 Olympics, overcoming a fit of vomiting to finish more than six minutes ahead of the field. Tall and stylish, he was European champion in 1938 and good enough at the age of 48 to finish 11th at the 1952 Olympics, behind his brother Rex who was fourth.

1972
The greatest coach in Lions history, Ian McGeechan was also a fair player. He made his debut today for Scotland against the All Blacks at Murrayfield. Geech dropped a goal, and another new cap, the exciting Andy Irvine, kicked two penalty goals - but New Zealand scored three tries and won 14-9.

Richie Woodhall: Classy as an amateur and professional © Getty Images
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2000
Richie Woodhall's last fight. An Olympic bronze medallist in 1988 and Commonwealth Games champion two years later, he turned professional and became WBC super-middleweight champion in 1998. Here in 2000, he tried to win the WBO version of the title but was stopped in the tenth round by his good friend Joe Calzaghe. The evening was tainted by news from another fight, in which Yorkshire's Paul Ingle lost his IBF featherweight title to Mbulelo Botile of South Africa. Stretchered out of the ring, he went to hospital to have a blood clot removed from his brain. Like Woodhall, Ingle never fought again.

1973
OJ Simpson (yes, that one) became the first running back to rush for 2,000 yards in an NFL season.

1979
Trevor Immelman was born in South Africa. He won the Masters at Augusta in 2008, finishing three strokes ahead of Tiger Woods despite double-bogeying the 70th hole.

1882
The points values in place at the time meant Wales lost to England at rugby by a respectable two goals to nil in Swansea. But they conceded six tries, and nowadays the scoreline would read 34-0. Three of those tries were scored by 19-year-old three-quarter Gregory Wade, who was one of eight players making their England debuts. Wade scored four other tries in international matches, finishing on the winning side in all eight of them.

1966
José Torres was a nasty body-puncher, so Nigeria's Dick Tiger did well to take the world light-heavyweight title from him, winning a unanimous decision. Durable and popular, real name Richard Ihetu, Tiger had lost the world middleweight crown earlier that year. He won a split decision in a title rematch against Torres in 1967.

1994
In the downhill at Val d'Isère, Austria's Pepi Strobl became the first skier to win his first World Cup race (excluding the first races in 1966).

2006
Adam Gilchrist's 57-ball hundred against England. He faced only 61 balls in the match: he made a duck in the first innings!

1997
In the World Cup in India, the same day featured the two highest innings in women's one-day international cricket, including the only double century so far. Charlotte Edwards made 173 not out as England beat Ireland by 208 runs, while Belinda Clark's unbeaten 229 helped Australia thrash the whipping girls of Denmark (all out for 49) by a merciless 363 runs.

1882
Jack Hobbs was born. One of the greatest batsmen ever to grace the game, he was known quite simply as the Master.

1927 Don Bradman's first-class debut: New South Wales against South Australia.

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