October 22 down the years
Defeated England arrive home
England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson follows his team-mates from the plane following their loss in the Rugby World Cup final, Heathrow Airport, London, October 22, 2007
Jonny Wilkinson arrives home with England in 2007 © Getty Images

A disconsolate England squad arrived home from the Rugby World Cup after losing the final to South Africa at the Stade de France two days earlier. Arriving at Heathrow on the specially-named "Hope and Glory'' Airbus A321, the squad posed for a souvenir photograph. The recriminations came fairly soon after. Although England had reached the final, there was no hiding the shambolic nature of the early part of the campaign.

Former All Blacks skipper Wilson Whineray passed away. Sir Wilson made his Test debut for the All Blacks back in May 1957 when he was 21 and took on the captaincy for their 1958 series against Australia. Sir Wilson ended up making 77 appearances for the All Blacks, which included 32 Tests, and captained the famous side on 67 occasions. Sir Wilson received his knighthood in 1994 and was named patron of the New Zealand Rugby Union in 2003. Four years later he became only the fourth person to be inducted into the International Rugby Board Hall of Fame.

Australia hooker Phil Kearns called time on his international career. A Rugby World Cup winner in 1991, Kearns suffered ligament damage during the Wallabies' 1999 World Cup victory over Ireland and was forced to end his involvement in the game at Test level. Australia went on to win the tournament at the Millennium Stadium, but Kearns was left stranded on a record 67 caps.

Argentina thrashed Romania 50-3 at the 2003 Rugby World Cup. The Pumas used their greater forward might to overpower the minnows, with Pablo Bouza and Juan Martin Hernandez scoring two tries apiece. Martin Gaitan gave Argentina the lead early on but they struggled to capitalise against stubborn opposition until Manuel Contepomi and Nicolas Frenandez Miranda tries opened the floodgates. Future international coach Santiago Phelan took the captain's armband for the victors in what was his final Test.

The Free State Cheetahs beat the Blue Bulls 29-25 to claim the Currie Cup. In a bad-tempered game the boots of Cheetahs fly-half Willem de Waal and his Bulls opposite number Morne Steyn dominated, until the Bloemfontein men silenced the home crowd at Loftus Versfeld with winning tries to Bevin Fortuin and Meyer Bosman.

The WRU celebrated its 75th anniversary with a match against the British & Irish Lions. The Lions, with a strong side drawn mainly from their party in South Africa earlier the same year, won 20-17 in front of a 40,000 crowd at Cardiff Arms Park.

The Fifth Springboks opened their tour of Britain with a 29-9 win against the Southern Counties in Hove.

Grand Slam champions France underlined their class with a 29-18 victory over the President's World XV at Parc des Princes, Paris. Jean-Pierre Romeu and Jacques Fouroux pulled the strings from half-back, Romeu dropping a goal and converting three tries.

Japan gave a Welsh XV a fright in an uncapped international, staging a late comeback to lose by only five points (29-24) at Cardiff.

Former New Zealand captain Graham Mourie signed a three-year contract to coach Wellington.

Hertfordshire played their first-ever game as a fully-fledged County Championship side. They surprised Dorset/Wilts at Salisbury winning the Southern Group match 5-3.

© Scrum.com

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