December 20 down the years
Hijacks, Hiller and 'no room for fairies'
Anti apartheid protesters match towards Twickenham ahead of the England v South Africa match in 1969 © Getty Images

England claimed their first ever win over South Africa, defeating the Springboks 11-8 at Twickenham. Much of the credit for the win went to England skipper Bob Hiller, who delivered his pre-match team talk with the aid of an overhead projector. Hiller also played his part on the field, landing a conversion and a penalty as England finally beat the Boks at the sixth attempt. When coach Don White was asked how he motivated the side, he replied: "I told them there was no room in this set-up for fairies." It was to be the last meeting between the countries in England for almost 23 years. The day had started dramatically with South Africa's tour bus being hijacked outside the team hotel with the squad on board!

Wales hammered Australia 28-3 in Cardiff, with JJ Williams helping himself to a stunning hat-trick. Williams had been initially set to start on the left wing but was switched to the opposite flank - to devastating effect - after Gerald Davies was forced to withdraw through injury. Newspapers praised the Welsh win but also flagged the Australians were "very poor in every phase".

New Zealand's tour of Wales was thrown into disarray after the All Blacks objected to Welsh selector Jack Games being appointed as the referee for their clash with Glamorgan. The Kiwis were eventually forced to back down and fulfilled the fixture the following day after the WRU threatened to cancel all of their remaining matches.

Wales beat Australia 6-0 in Cardiff courtesy of two penalties from the boot of Monmouth coal miner Bill Tamplin. That aside it was dour affair with neither side looking interested in anything other than a gruelling forward battle.

In an era when looney left-wing councils were to the fore, Manchester briefly eclipsed Liverpool in the crazy stakes by proposing a ban of rugby in the city's schools because … it was played in South Africa. "Pupils would be quite able to play Rugby League instead," said union representative Roger Jones. Fortunately Jones' stupidity failed to carry the day.

Oh the days of the amateur … England winger Ted Woodward was forced to miss the Probables-Possibles trial at Exeter in order to deal with the Christmas orders at this butcher's shop in High Wycombe.

The All Blacks record a 23-6 victory over the Southern Counties in their final tour fixture before the Christmas break. Winger Bryan Williams scored two tries for the Kiwis.


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