March 1 down the years
Stunning comeback silences Twickenham
England players are left stunned after a remarkable turnaround at Twickenham © Getty Images

France staged a remarkable comeback to notch a 23-20 victory over England that left Twickenham stunned. With 20 minutes left England were leading 20-6 after a first half in which they played "sublime rugby", but then France's determination to keep possession and run the ball paid off with 17 unanswered points. Brive centre Christophe Lamaison was the inspiration with a try, two conversions, two penalties and a drop goal.

Around 8000 spectators at Blackheath watched England beat Scotland by a goal to a try, but the match was held up for ten minutes after Scotland disputed Richard Kindersley's second-half score, vehemently arguing that the ball had been knocked-on in the build-up. The Irish referee held firm, but the ramifications of the dispute rumbled on. England refused to back the formation of an International Board to resolve such disputes, and as a result Scotland declined to play the fixture in 1885.

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.

A wretched day for France in Paris. Not only did they lose 14-0 to England, but the home crowd of more than 60,000 turned on them after a dismal first-half performance . The real fury was reserved for the selectors. "They were called distinctly rude names and some of their forbears too, and a yell went up for the blood of the chairman," reported the Times. After three first-half tries, England failed to capitalise on what newspapers described as "France's complete disintegration" and the second-half was best forgotten.

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.

Leicester No. 8 Dean Richards marked his Test debut with two tries in England's 25-20 defeat of Ireland, the reigning Five Nations champions. His partnership with two other 17-stoners, Maurice Colclough and Wade Dooley, bulldozed the Irish scrum into submission. Richards, who became the first Englishman since 1929 to score a brace of tries on debut, could have had a third had a deliberate offside by the Irish, which led to a penalty try, not deprived him. "Once the roll was on Richards controlled the ball so adroitly that it seemed it must be attached to his boots by an invisible cord," noted the Guardian.


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