April 17 down the years
The 'revolutionary microfibre jock box'
The Newcastle players applaud the fans after victory in a cracking Powergen Cup final on this day in 2004 © Getty Images
At the start of what seemed to be a long and successful career, Gavin Henson was in the papers whatever he did. The Daily Star splashed an exclusive that he was going to "use a revolutionary jock box made from microfibre to make sure his manhood is not damaged" during the Lions tour to New Zealand. As if that was not enough information, the paper quoted a team source as saying: "You don't want something really bad to happen and ruin your chance to enjoy some down time in the bedroom after the tour. Gavin and [then wife Charlotte Church] are a new couple and they're still in the first flush of lust. After that long apart I'm sure there'll be a lot of pent-up frustration. He just doesn't want anything to get in the way."
David Chisholm, with a late dropped goal, guided Scotland to an 8-5 win against South Africa at Murrayfield. James Shackleton had earlier scored a try for the Scots, while South Africa were kept in the game by a converted try from winger Jannie Engelbrecht. The game was watched by 30,000 at Murrayfield.
Newcastle won a cracking Powergen Cup final against Sale 37-33 in a game where the lead changed hands seven times. The rugby was unrefined and scrappy but as a spectacle it was thrilling. "We were magnificent, but so were Sale," said Rob Andrew, Newcastle's director of rugby. "It was a brilliant cup final. I thought it might go to extra time. It was almost a case of whoever had the lead when the music stopped would take the cup away."
In what was classified as a full-blown Test, England conceded their then highest score in a Twickenham international, losing 28-11 in a special match against the RFU President's XV to mark the RFU's Centenary. "Despite the score, this was probably England's best performance in what would have been a disastrous centenary year if results only had counted," wrote Peter Wilson in the Daily Mirror. "It was only in injury time that the score became definitive, and only in a remarkable extension of that injury time that defeat turned into near rout."
France prop Christian Califano announced that he would be swapping the blue of France for the Auckland Blues after agreeing a deal to represent the side in the Super 12. His sojourn ended with the Blues finishing sixth and missing out on a semi-final spot. "We have been told that we are not professional enough in France, so I'll have the chance to see how they do it over there - and then bring that experience back with me," he said prior to leaving Toulouse. "I'm not doing it for the money - if I wanted that I could have gone to England."
The Pacific Islanders touring side was given the go-ahead by the International Rugby Board. The concept, based on the British and Irish Lions composite side, was put forward Pacific Islanders Rugby Alliance and approved at the second time of asking with the support of the Tri-Nations sides. The Pacific Islanders eventually played their first Test against Australia in July 2004 before touring the northern hemisphere in 2006 and 2008, registering their first win with a 25-17 victory over Italy in Reggio Emilia.
Pierre Albaladejo dropped two goals for France to steer them to a 26-0 victory over Italy in a Sunday match in Treviso. Louis Casaux crossed the whitewash twice for the French, while the comfortable victory was rounded off by tries from No.8 Sylvain Meyer and winger Henri Rancoule.
The full Welsh XV lost 26-10 against a Barbarian side that fielded five threequarters and only seven forwards. This was not uncommon at the time and the seven-man scrum was not outlawed until 1932.
France, in their first official Test against Germany, won 30-5 in front of 20,000 spectators at Stade Colombes in a match that refereed by England's Bill Jackson.
Twickenham staged its first-ever schoolboys match as the Welsh Under-15s defeated their English counterparts 6-5 in front of 15,000 spectators. The game was part of the England Schools Union's jubilee celebrations.