August 31 down the years
All Blacks hit a new low
John Hart announces his resignation as All Blacks head coach in the aftermath of New Zealand's shock World Cup semi-final exit at the hands of France, Cardiff, November 05 1999
John Hart announces his resignation as All Blacks head coach in Cardiff, 1999 © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Dewi Bebb | Mike Gibson | Sandy Hinshelwood

Under-pressure New Zealand boss John Hart was told that his job was safe in spite of the fact that he had just overseen a run of five successive Test defeats. The All Blacks, under Hart's guidance, had won the two previous Tri-Nations series but suffered the ignominy of becoming the first side to endure a winless campaign. That led to calls for Hart's head. The New Zealand Rugby Union backed their man and he responded by leading his troops to a third Tri-Nations title in four seasons. However, Hart still ended up out of job within 12 months, the former Auckland man stepping down on the back of New Zealand's shock defeat to France in an epic World Cup semi-final clash at Twickenham.

Ranfurly Shield holders Wairarapa suffered a shock 19-16 defeat by Southland. Nobody was more surprised by the defeat than the defending champions, who had not even bother to bring the Shield with them. Cue red faces all around as a member of the Wairarapa contingent was forced to undertake a hurried 20-mile journey in order to present the Shield to its new holders.

After drawing their first (unofficial) Test against Argentina, Ireland clinched the series with a hard-fought 6-0 victory over the Pumas in Buenos Aires.

The Lions were made to work hard for 9-3 victory over the New Zealand Juniors in Wellington. Wingers Sandy Hinshelwood and Dewi Bebb both touched down for the tourists, while Mike Gibson contributed a penalty.

The Springboks laboured to a 6-0 victory over a weak Waikato side in Hamilton.

Western Province recorded a famous 12-6 victory over the touring Wallabies at Newlands. "Tiny" Naude was the province's hero, the lock landing three penalties.


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