January 1 down the years
The oh-so-volatile French crowds
Scotland won 21-3 against France in Paris thanks to a hat-trick of tries from wing William Stewart but the real story came off the pitch. The gates had to be closed long before the game and the significant elements of the 25,000 inside Parc des Princes turned on the referee, former England international James Baxter, running on to the field and accusing him of bias. Baxter fled to the dressing rooms and after half-an-hour he was smuggled out of the stadium in a car belonging to one of the French board with the mob still waiting outside. Scotland suspended relations with France and there was no match the following season - the next meeting was on New Year's Day 1920 when again Scotland won.
For the most recent time the Five Nations Championship kicked off in France. The French often played internationals on New Year's Day - although this was the last - and had done so in the previous three years. The visiting Irish launched their first Grand Slam season with a 13-6 victory at Stade Colombes. The crowd were at their vociferous best, roaring "Bergougnan, Bergougnan" the name of the scrum-half who had been suspended while the French authorities investigated charges of professionism. Gerard Dufau, who took his place, was not an adequate replacement while 24-year-oId full-back Lucien Rouffia, playing in his third international, found difficulty In handling the greasy ball and gave away the last try scored by Barney Mullan near the end when he miskicked.
London Scottish announced they had severed all ties with the Scottish board because of the lack of interest shown in their players by selectors. The club had already taken a decision to "play down" their Scottishness and said they would consider a name change. "We're not really interested in the SRU any more," club owner Tont Tiarks said. "They've got our phone number but they've made their own bed and I wish them all the best." The separation did not last, nor did the controversial Tiarks who bailed out in the summer.
In the first-ever Five Nations international, Wales beat new boys France 49-14 in Swansea. Welsh fullback Jack Bancroft scored a then record 19 points and wing Reggie Gibbs crossed the French line on three occasions. France had previously participated in several Home Nations tournaments but never under an official banner.
France entered international rugby's club, opening their Test account with a 38-8 defeat by New Zealand in Paris. Legendary All Black Dave Gallaher captained the side and played wing-forward in front of 3,000 fans at the Parc des Princes, with centre Carbine Wallace scoring a hat-trick of tries. France had to wait five years for their first Test victory, when they edged out Scotland in Colombes in 1911.
Guy Boniface, the marvellous French centre of the 1960s, died at the age of 30 after a road accident returning from a match at Orthez. In a tragic twist his death was followed by that of winger Jean-Michel Capendeguy three days later. Boniface's name has since been attached to Mont-de-Marsan's ground, the club at which he played the majority of his career, winning a championship in 1963 and the Challenge Yves du Manoir in 1960, 1961 and 1962.
The Springboks lost the last match of their British & Irish tour, being overwhelmed 17-0 by Cardiff at the Arms Park. "Never has a first-class game of rugby been played on a ground in a worse state," said the Times of the mud. Shirts soon become indistinguishable, and players' faces covered in mud. The match was the last played by Gwyn Nicholls. He had retired in 1905 but played the following season simply because he wanted to face the All Blacks and Wales "were in dire need". He came out of retirement for one last time to engineer the win against the South Africans.
With France liberated the previous summer, the New Year's Day fixture resumed with a match between the national XV and the British Army at the Parc des Princes; France won 21-9.