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Historical Rugby Milestones 1970s

Carl Mullen signs rugby ball for small boy


March 3rd - Former Scotland international Tremayne Rodd is banned for life by the Scottish RFU. In 1966, after retiring from playing, he covered the 1966 British Lions tour of New Zealand as a journalist, and in late 1969 he joined Richmond, in west London, with the aim of "getting fit". He was soon drafted into the 1st XV and the SRFU immediately raised objections, claiming he was a professional, ending his brief comeback.

April 1970, Nigel Starmer-Smith tries to wrest the ball from the hands of Frances captain, Christian Carrere in France vs. England in Paris. France won 35 - 13.

Cardiff's Robin Williams gave a master-class in goal-kicking using both feet. He kicked four penalties, two conversions and a left-footed dropped goal from the right touchline but was unable to stop his side losing 30-28 to the Barbarians, who prevailed thanks to an equally distinguished display of goal-kicking by their full-back, Tony Jorden.


England & Wales vs. Scotland & Ireland at Twickenham

England and Wales (1G, 3T)—14 points; Scotland and Ireland (1G, 1PG, 2T)—14 points.

England and Wales—J. P. R. Williams (London Welsh, Wales); T. G. R. Davies (Cambridge University, Wales), J. S. Spencer (Headingley, England), D.J. Duckham (Coventry, England), K. J. Fielding (Moseley, England); B, John (Cardiff, Wales), G. 0. Edwards (Cardiff, Wales); D. B, Llewelyn (Llanelli, Wales), J. V. Pullin (Bristol, England), K. E. Fairbrother (Coventry, England), A. M. Davis (Harlequins, England), W. D. Thomas (Llanelli, Wales), W. D. Morris (Neath, Wales), T. M. Davies (London Welsh, Wales), R. B. Taylor (Northampton, England, Captain). Scorers—Tries by Fielding, Morris (converted by Williams), Llewelyn and Spencer.

Scotland and Ireland - T. J. Kiernan (Cork Constitution, Ireland, Captain); A. T. A. Duggan (Lansdowne, Ireland), C. M. H. Gibson (N.I.F.C., Ireland), J. N. M. Frame (Gala, Scotland), A. G. Biggar (London Scottish, Scotland); B. J. McGann (Cork Constitution, Ireland), D, S. Paterson (Gala, Scotland); N. Suddon (Hawick, Scotland), F. A. L. Laidlaw (Melrose, Scotland), P. J. O'Callaghan (Dolphin, Ireland), W. J. McBride (Ballymena, Ireland), P. C. Brown (Gala, Scotland), R. J. Arneil (Leicester, Scotland), T. A. Moore (Highfield, Ireland). T. G. Elliot (Langholm, Scotland). Scorers - Tries by Arneil, Brown (converted by Kiernan), Duggan; Kiernan, penalty goal. M. G. Molloy (London Irish, Ireland) and J. J. Moloney (St Mary's College, Ireland) were second-half replacements for injured Moore and Biggar. Referee - C. Durand (France).

There was a stirring climax to the game. From the last move of the play Duggan, Ireland's wing who has always made the most of every chance, scored a try which enabled his side to draw level for a third time. From a loose scrum Elliot managed to hook the ball back to Paterson. He instantly broke away on the blind-side supported by McGann who gave Duggan the scoring pass. Kiernan's attempted conversion from a wide angle to win the game narrowly missed, so fittingly enough on such an occasion the game was drawn. For most of the play England-Wales held the advantage, especially at forward in the scrummage, though the opposing pack did better in the second half after the enforced injury change which brought Molloy into the scrum beside McBride with Brown moving back to No. 8 position. It was during Anglo-Welsh pressure with Williams up in attack that they opened the scoring after only a few minutes from the start. Fielding gathered a misplaced clearing kick and, after a disconcerting check in his run, he suddenly swerved outside Kiernan and scored at the corner. Some twenty minutes later after a thrust by Biggar to the corner Gibson switched the attack and from a line-out Arneil dived over to equalise. But just before the interval a run by John was completed by Morris and the try was converted by Williams. But three minutes after the re-start the score was again levelled.

In loose play Brown snatched a try and Kiernan added the goal points. It was just after Biggar went off and was replaced by Moloney that the Anglo-Welsh went ahead again by scoring twice. First John set up an attack from Gibson's drop-out and Williams gave a scoring pass to Llewelyn. Then, only two minutes later, Fielding gathered a kick ahead by McGann and made a cross-field run which sent Spencer racing clear from half-way. Yet even after Kiernan kicked a penalty it seemed with time drawing near that the Anglo-Welsh would record a fourth win in the series. But when play was well into injury time came Duggan's match-saving try. In addition to the 1971 Lions mentioned earlier Brown and Frame are playing again today.

1971 - Scotland, sticking to their belief that rugby should remain an amateur activity, took a long time to accept the idea of a coach. They finally succumbed in 1971 and appointed Bill Dickinson as a coach.

John Taylor lands the most famous kick in Five Nations history. His late left-footed conversion of a corner try by Gerald Davies brings Wales a one-point win against Scotland (19 - 18).


Wales and Scotland are unable to travel to Dublin at the height of the Troubles.The Championship remains unresolved with Wales and Ireland unbeaten. Against Scotland, Gareth Edwards scores one of the tournament's best-ever solo tries from a run from deep inside his own half.

In the Wales vs. New Zealand test - best remembered for All Black prop Keith Murdoch being sent home after the match - was the first rugby match to be televised live by satellite back to New Zealand.


England & Wales played Scotland & Ireland at Murrayfield

The sixth match of its kind to celebrate memorable historic occasions.

On October 13th , a privately chartered plane transporting Old Christians Club rugby union team to Chile crashed in the cordillera of the Andes .

The wreckage lay in one of the most inhospitable environments in the world, and because the fuselage was no more than a white speck against the snow of the surrounding mountains rescue was a remote possibility. Drinking water wasn't a problem once the survivors had devised an efficient way to melt snow, but faced with the lethal cold of an Andean Springtime, and suffering from the onset of starvation as well as injuries sustained in the crash, their outlook was bleak. When the survivors heard on the radio that the search had been called off, desperation and hunger set in with a vengeance, and, to quote Nando Parrado, 'what drove us was nothing like ordinary appetite'. In order to live, the survivors would have to consume the only food for miles around: the flesh of their dead companions.

Nando Parrado and Roberto Canessa, trekked across the Andes to find help, they succeeded and the first six were taken to safety on Dec 22 and the remaining 8 removed from the mountain the following day.

The extraordinary story of the Old Christians rugby team was thoroughly documented by Piers Paul Read in his 1974 best-seller 'Alive'.

October, 31st - Llanelli, coached by Carwyn James, beat Ian Kirkpatrick's All Blacks 9-3 at Stradey Park. South Wales's pubs famously ran dry by 6pm. Roy Bergiers scored a try from his own charge-down and Andy Hill scored a colossal long-range penalty. Skipper Delme Thomas was carried from the field by fans, and fly-half Phil Bennett had a fantastic game.

Gloucester win the first RFU knock-out cup.


One of the best trys you are likely to see. The famous Gareth Edwards try for the Barbarians vs. the all blacks. Cliff Morgan's famous commentary went like this: "Kirkpatrick to Williams. This is great stuff. Phil Bennett covering, chased by Alistair Scown. Brilliant! Oh, that's brilliant! John Williams, Pullin, John Dawes. Great dummy! David, Tom David, the half-way line. Brilliant by Quinnell. This is Gareth Edwards. A dramatic start. What a score!"

Video (click and wait, approx. 1.7Meg).

Gareth Edwards said "The game against the All Blacks is one I will never forget and those of us who played in it will never be allowed to forget".

"We went on the field determined to try to win the game but petrified that we might get run over by an All Blacks side that had been on tour for three months," Edwards recalled. "We thought, 'God alive, are we going to get run over and smashed out of sight here?'" admitted Edwards. "There was great pressure to perform."

"When Phil went for the ball, I was thinking 'Thank God, he's going to put it into touch', because I needed a breather, and so did the rest of the team," recalled Edwards. "But when he started running back towards me, I thought 'What the hell's he doing now?"

What followed has become the stuff of legend, Morgan's memorable commentary preserving the moment in rugby folklore.

"Brilliant, oh that's brilliant!" he enthuses as Bennett sidesteps his way past three bamboozled All Blacks. The ball is transferred to JPR Williams, then to hooker John Pullin and on to John Dawes, by-passing a retreating Edwards. Dawes' dash up the left touchline gives the move momentum, before a burst from flanker Tom David and a charge from Derek Quinnell makes the score possible.

"When I started chasing, I wasn't thinking 'There's a try on here'" said Edwards. "My first thought was I better get there as scrum-half in case the ball goes to ground. "But the nearer I got to the action and saw things unfolding, I thought 'Hello, hang on a minute.'"

Quinnell's pass towards wing John Bevan never reached its intended target. Edwards - at top speed and with perfect timing - surged onto the ball and set off on an exhilarating run that took him outside the remaining cover to score in the left corner. "That try settled the whole occasion, and gave it a sense of occasion," added Edwards. "We never thought about it beforehand, or even dreamt about it. It was all spontaneous. "But it has stood the test of time and the fact that people still get a thrill from it and cheer when it is shown shows you the impact it had."

March 10th - Tries from Jim Shanklin, father of Wales centre Tom, and Gareth Edwards secured a 16-12 win for Wales over Ireland at the National Stadium. The incomparable Mike Gibson was on the scoresheet for the Irish as the tournament ended in the only-ever four-way tie for the Five Nations title. All five sides won two and lost two games.

Tonga beat Australia 26 - 11

Tonga were beaten in thier first test but reversesd this in the second test.


Australian Michael O'Brien became the first streaker at a major sporting event at the England vs. France game at Twickenham in January 1974. The word streaking was added to the English language the same year.

Micheal o'Brien
Micheal O'Brien (credit Getty)

March 2nd - Jean-Pierre Romeu became only the third player in Championship history to score with a full house of actions - try, conversion, penalty and drop - helping France to a 12-12 draw against England in Paris. The match was described as "fast and furious and abounding in mistakes", and from 12-3 down ten minutes into the second half, England fought back through the boot of Alan Old and a David Duckham try.

16/17th May 1974 Metrification
At the Annual meeting of the board held in Sydney the decision was made to change all measurements in the game to metric and this was implemented as of the beginning of the 1975 in overseas unions and of the 1975/76 season in the home unions.

Lions win 3 - 0 in South Africa.


Rugby in the USA enjoyed a renaissance, beginning in the 1960s and continuing through the 1970s. This created the need for a national governing body to represent the USA in the International rugby community. Four territorial organizations gathered in Chicago, Ill., in 1975 and formed the United States of America Rugby Football Union (now known as USA Rugby). Today, USA Rugby is made up of seven Territorial Unions (TUs) and 37 Local Area Unions (LAUs),and supports more than 40,000 members.

March 1st - A record crowd for a Championship match (estimated at 104,000-plus although the official attendance was 80,000) witnessed Scotland beat Wales 12-10 in a bitty match at Murrayfield. The Scottish RFU was forced to issue an apology to the "thousands who paid to get in but had been unable to see the match" and said it would consider introducing all-ticket games. The match itself went to the wire, and five minutes into added time Allan Martin's touchline conversion, which would have tied the scores, floated narrowly past the post. Wales had the more than adequate consolation of winning the Championship after Scotland lost to wooden spooners England a fortnight later.

Ireland, the defending champions, thrashed France 25-6 in Dublin, with Willie-John McBride, on his last Test appearance at Lansdowne Road, scoring the first try of his international career in the 84th minute. It was his 62nd game for his country, but there was to be no fairytale finish. A fortnight later in his final international, Ireland were thrashed by Wales in Cardiff.

Mike Burton sent off in Brisbane.

Over 100.000 fill Murrayfield to see Scotland beat Wales 12 - 10.

1976 - USA Rugby fields several national teams, nicknamed the Eagles. The National Men’s Team, first took the field in 1976, and is becoming a prominent part of the International scene.

Boca Raton RUFC formed.

JPR Williams 3rd Try against England
England v Wales 1976
(Courtesy BBC)

March 6th - Wales win the Grand Slam with a 19-13 win over France in Cardiff, but it was a match that left the home fans exhausted as the French, who outscored the Welsh by two tries to one, were camped in the home side's 22 in the dying minutes. It took some heroic defence, epitomised by JPR Williams' last-minute crunching tackle to check French wing Jean-Francois Gourdon within feet of the line, to clinch the victory.

Welsh captain Mervyn Davies suffered a brain haemorrhage during the Swansea-Pontypool Welsh Cup semi-final at Cardiff. To the relief of all he later recovered, but his rugby career was brought to a premature finish.


HRH the Prince of Wales opens the new RFU offices at Twickenham before the Middlesex Sevens.

Lions lose 3 - 1 in New Zealand.


October 31st, Munster beat Graham Mourie's New Zealand 12-0 in Limerick - still the All Blacks' only defeat by an Irish side. Christy Cantillon scored a try for the men in red, with Tony Ward converting and slotting two drop-goals. Munster were coached by Irish great Tom Kiernan and were fierce in defence, with Shay Dennison notable by the ferocity of his tackling. "Munster played the type of game in Limerick we set out to play ... but played it better," said gracious skipper Mourie.

First Italy tour, to New Zealand. The tourists win two of the five matches but do not play any Tests.

New Zealand beat Wales 13 - 12 after the referee is conned by a lineout dive by Andy Haden.

Still probably the most controversial Welsh defeat between the two countries and it is still talked about now, at least in Wales.

Wales were the better team but were beaten with a last-minute penalty by full back Brian McKechnie after an incident that has gone down in Welsh rugby folkore and an example of the tactics the Men in Black would employ in search of victory.

Wales dominated possession and, with moments left on the clock, they led by two points.

Lock Andy Haden threw himself out of the lineout in an attempt to win a penalty , to the fury of the Welsh players. English referee Roger Quittenton penalised a push by Geoff Wheel on Frank Oliver.

Graham Mourie, the All Black captain, later admitted he had planted the idea in Haden's mind the night before the match. "I know that some of the players later regretted it and their part in it," he said.

"But it was equally true that in that crucial, unforgiving minute in the searing heat of Cardiff Arms Park the match was won."

While this defeat still rankles for the Welsh, New Zealand's class of '78 became the first All Black side to return home with a Grand Slam of wins over England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Scorers - Wales: Pens: Gareth Davies (3), Steve Fenwick

New Zealand: Try: Stu Wilson; Pens: Brian McKechnie (3)

Wales: JPR Williams (Bridgend, capt), JJ Williams (Llanelli), RWR Gravell (Llanelli ), SP Fenwick (Bridgend), CFW Rees (London Welsh), WG Davies (Cardiff), TD Holmes (Cardiff), AG Faulkner (Pontypool), RW Windsor (Pontypool), G Price (Pontypool), GAD Wheel (Swansea), AJ Martin (Aberavon), J Squire (Pontypool), DL Quinnell (Llanelli), P Ringer (Ebbw Vale)

New Zealand: CJ Currie, SS Wilson, BJ Robertson, WM Osborne, BG Williams, OD Bruce, DS Loveridge, WK Bush, AG Dalton, BR Johnstone, AM Haden, FJ Oliver, GNK Mourie (capt), GA Seear, LM Rutledge. Replacement: BJ McKechnie for Currie

Graham Price's jaw was broken by a sickening punch from behind by opposing loose-head Steve Finnane in the Wales vs Australia 2nd test. Australia went on to win the game 19 - 17 and win the series 2 - 0.

Ireland 16 Wales 20

In a close and physical encounter, Wales secured their third consecutive triple crown. An unprecedented "triple-triple crown".


Ireland won seven of the eight matches they played on their tour to Australia, including both tests. The only defeat came against Sydney.



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