March 11 down the years
Stumble-fumble, wishy-washy, witless Welsh

Wales, the previous season's champions, lost 0-3 to Ireland in a gale in Cardiff - the second of three straight losses as they slid to the wooden spoon. Describing the performance as " a shambles of fumbling and witlessness" the Daily Express concluded it was a Wales side which played with "so little skills and so little belief". As the Welsh descended into punching and brawling, the game was decided by a try from Al Duggan after a diagonal kick into the corner by Jerry Walsh.

Wales beat Ireland 9-0 in Cardiff but were still slammed as "stumble-fumble, wishy-washy" by the newspapers. Ireland for their part escaped with just being called inept. The 60,000 inside the Arms Park were also unhappy, making clear their frustration. With Ireland down to 12 fit players the Wlesh lead was only 3-0 on the hour before they eased clear. Ken Richards scored all the game's points with two penalties and a try.

London Irish fly-half Shane Geraghty made an explosive start to his international career by inspiring England to a 26-18 win over France at Twickenham. A searing break set up a try for Mike Tindall, while he landed five points of his own with a penalty and conversion. "A sway of the hips took him past two blue-shirted opponents and sublime pace blew away a couple more," wrote The Guardian's Rob Kitson in his account of Geraghty's pivotal break. "For a split-second it seemed he might go all the way with the ghosts of Hancock and Prince Obelensky at his heels; instead, after almost 50 metres of breathless ambition, he threw an artful underarm offload which grazed [Mike] Catt's fingertips and deflected into the grateful hands of Mike Tindall, who plunged over. Not for at least a couple of decades has there been a more exhilarating long-distance English try at Twickenham."

Crowds try to storm the round  before the Five Nations decider, Wales v Ireland, Cardiff, March 11, 1911
Crowds try to storm the ground before the Five Nations decider in 1911 ©

Wales completed the Grand Slam with a 16-0 win over Ireland in Cardiff although the Irish forward power was sapped by a deluge the day before the game which left the pitch a quagmire. Wales' back line was considered "lacklustre" and Ireland's fullback badly twisted an ankle early on and was lame for most of the match. More than 45,000 were jammed into the ground and the gates were closed 45 minutes before the start, but it did not stop hundreds more clambering in over the walls and several were injured in the process. One man broke his back when he fell off a wall.

England captain Will Carling was forced to hold a press conference to tell the media he would not be retiring after the Five Nations clash with Scotland a week later. Although only 29, he had hinted earlier in the season he might bow out. "It's definitely not in my mind," he said. "It might be in [coach Jack Rowell's] but not in mine. There's talk about the captaincy and I am sure that is something which will be reviewed by everyone and I cannot comment on that, but I have not planned to quit.". Despite briefly being fired after his "old farts" comment a few weeks later, carling continued with England until 1997.

Italy came agonisingly close to registering their first away win in the Six Nations when they drew 18-18 with Wales at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. Tries from Pablo Canavosio and Ezio Galon took Wales to the wire, with fly-half Stephen Jones and wing Mark Jones crossing to spare the home side's blushes.

Eighteen-year-old James Simpson-Daniel scored a second-half try to set Gloucester on their way to a 5-17 win over Rotherham, while Leicester Tigers took a stranglehold on the Premiership with a 12-9 victory over second-placed Northampton at Franklin's Gardens, Tim Stimpson's boot proving to be the difference.

Scotland defeated England 5-0 at Blackheath in the last game between the sides of the 19th century. A try from halfback John Gillespie and a conversion from William Thomson were enough to disappoint the 25,000 spectators amassed at the Rectory Field.

Wales defeated Ireland 2-0 at Stradey Park in Llanelli thanks to a try from centre Bert Gould, Wales went on to win the Home Nations championship with a clean sweep of victories.


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