March 13 down the years
'Bad-temper and crude violence'
Clive Rowlands is chaired off the field after Wales' Triple Crown success in 1965 © Getty Images
Wales beat Ireland 14-8 in a Triple Crown decider in Cardiff to secure the title for the first time in 13 seasons. Billed rather presumptuously as the match of the century, it failed to live up to the hype, not helped by a greasy surface which made handling hard. From the sixth to the 26th-minute Wales were without centre John Dawes, a victim of concussion. And the seven-man pack struggled for dear life in a forward battle that threw off sparks of bad-temper and crude violence. The crowd also came in for its share of criticism for subjecting the Irish place kickers to a cacophony of noise while remaining silent for their own.
Wales, under widespread attack, dropped Shane Howarth , one of the players at the heart of the Grannygate scandal whose eligibility was becoming increasingly dubious. Howarth and four others were under the spotlight after it was revealed their claims to have Welsh-born ancestors were dubious. He did not play for Wales again.
Ireland were denied their first Grand Slam when they lost 11-8 to Wales at Swansea. Tom Hewitt missed with a last-ditch attempt to win the match through a drop goal - worth four points at the time. "Hewitt looked amazed," wrote the Guardian, "as if the cup of victory had been shattered as it was reaching his lips." It was Wales' first win over a home country since 1922.
Wales became the first nation to win back-to-back Grand Slams when they beat Ireland 18-5 in Swansea. All the points came in the second half, with Wales scoring two goals and a try in a six-minute burst after Ireland had taken the lead. In two seasons they had scored 17 tries to seven and 76 points to 36.
The RFU announced it would turn its back on Sky Sports and launch its own TV channel from 2001 with a view to floating it on the stock market. Clive Brittle, the chairman of the RFU's marketing board, was an open critic of the Sky agreement and within months of taking office he had riled the broadcaster by refusing them access to tickets. "Never again should we sell our rights to one broadcaster," he said. Two years later a "delighted" RFU signed a new deal with Sky.
Ireland completed their one and only Grand Slam season to date, beating Wales 6-3 at Ravenhill. It was also their first Triple Crown since 1899 and at the final whistle thousands poured onto the pitch and carried the Irish team from the field on their shoulders.
Neath centre Denzil Thomas, making his only appearance for Wales, dropped the winning goal in the dying moments of their 12-9 defeat of Ireland in Dublin. While the finale was thrilling, the game itself was "about as lifeless as you can get and almost devoid of incident" noted the Guardian.
Bill Beaumont, who a year earlier had captained the British & Irish Lions tour, announced he would not tour South Africa again. Beaumont's Lions had lost the Test series to the Springboks 3-1, but had finished their tour games unbeaten.
Eddie Jones stepped down as Saracens' director of rugby with immediate effect. The former Australia coach walked out on the Guinness Premiership side early, having been informed that former South Africa centre Brendan Venter would be taking over the reins at the end of the season.
The RFU Cup quarter-finals gave an interesting insight into the leading English clubs of the day. Rosslyn Park won 16-12 at Bristol; Gosforth 14-3 at Roundhay; Wakefield (inspired by Les Cusworth) 12-6 at home to Northampton, and Sale 16-14 at home to London Welsh.