December 6 down the years
Sometimes dour, occasionally enterprising
Cambridge celebrate varsity victory ... but on a Thursday afternoon in 2007 rather than the customary Tuesday © Getty Images
After several desperately dull Varsity matches both captains - Jeff Clements of Cambridge and Roy Allaway of Oxford - vowed to play in an entertaining way. Oxford won 9-5 but the pair were as good as their words. "Allaway told us before the kick-off to chuck the ball about no matter what," said the Oxford scrum half. As Oxford desperately clung on, repelling wave after wave of Cambridge attacks at the end, they lost Fallon with a broken rib … but seeing his side's predicament he staggered back on to play as a second fullback for the final minutes.
And this is what they were trying to change … a Varsity match for the purists as a tenth-minute try by second row Nigel Gent gave Oxford a 3-0 win, the Daily Mirror reporting that "both evenly matched packs battered each other to a dour standstill".
The former government communications director Alastair Campbell was confirmed as a consultant to advise on media and communications for the 2005 British & Irish Lions tour of New Zealand. It was one of the most controversial moves by Lions coach Clive Woodward, who was roundly criticised for the decision to include Campbell after his bloated side were thrashed 3-0 by the All Blacks. "The Lions is a massive media event, there will be a huge level of interest from the travelling media, the fans that will go out in their thousands and the New Zealand public," said Woodward. "We need to have the strategy and processes in place to deal with the pressures that will bring. He will act as an advisor both in the build to and on the tour itself."
England completed a gruelling four-week series of Tests against Tri-Nations opponents with a creditable 26-26 draw against New Zealand at Twickenham. Andrew Mehrtens was the star for the All Blacks, scoring 21 of their points via a try, four penalties and two conversions. Their other try came from centre Walter Little. England wing David Rees Crossed for a try, as did back-row legends Lawrence Dallaglio and Richard Hill, with Paul Grayson chipping with 11 points from the kicking tee.
Iain Smith became the first Scotland fullback to score a try in a Test, helping his country to a 6-3 win over the Sixth Springboks. His score came ten minutes from time in a game marked by neither kicker being able to find their range. Smith slotted one from six attempts while Piet Visagie did little better with one from five.
Cambridge won their 10th Varsity match out of 12 with a 20-9 victory after wearing down Oxford. The Dark Blues' gamble on playing injured Ireland fullback Hugo MacNeill - the Daily Express said his knee was so heavily bandaged it looked as if he was in a plaster cast - did not pay off. "It was my only chance to be seen by Ireland's selectors and the lack of depth meant I had no option but to play," he said.
John Hart was named New Zealand coach in succession to Laurie Mains. Hart had been an assistant to Brian Lochore when the All Blacks triumphed at the 1987 Rugby World Cup and under his stewardship they picked up three Tri-Nations titles and a series win in South Africa in 1996. He fell on his sword following New Zealand's shock elimination from the 1999 Rugby World Cup at the semi-final stage.
For the first time for sixty years the Varsity Match was not staged on a Tuesday. Cambridge won a late-afternoon Thursday game 22-16 watched by a crowd of 34,521.
A side labelled an "Oxford University XV" beat a "Cambridge University XV" 15-3 at Cambridge. The match did not count for Blues and was the first of a series of war-time home and away contests between the Universities.
Australia's Third Wallabies scored the best Test win of their European tour, beating Ireland (who went on to win the Grand Slam) 16-3 in Dublin.