December 23 down the years
Henson falls foul of the authorities

Ospreys centre Gavin Henson was banned for 10 weeks for a deliberate elbow which left Leicester prop Alex Moreno with a broken nose during a Heineken Cup game a week earlier. The ban capped a bad six months for the player who earlier in the year had been inspirational in Wales' Six Nations Grand Slam. Henson struggled to break the Test side on the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand and struggled with a groin injury and then upset many with the publication of My Grand Slam Year which dished the dirt on opponents and team-mates.

A nightmare before Christmas for the home fans among the 4057 at the Stoop as Harlequins were thrashed 16-52 by Wasps, a side containing 13 Englishmen. Wasps only led 17-9 at the break by two tries in three minutes after the re-start set up an eventual rout.

The IRB demanded answers from Perpignan after banned hooker Marius Tincu played in the club's Top 14 victory over Castres. Tincu was serving an 18-week ban for gouging after being found guilty of the offence following Perpignan's Heineken Cup loss to the Ospreys. The club, which bitterly opposed the ban, claimed it applied to cross-border tournaments only and not domestic competitions. The IRB eventually fudged its findings and did nothing but it did tighten the rules on banned players.

Dave Gallaher, legendary captain of the Original All Blacks, stood down from the New Zealand side to play Newport having been bitten on the finger a couple of days earlier playing against Glamorgan.

The England selectors were given a headache when the 'Possibles' outplayed the 'Probables' 17-3 in the trial match at Twickenham.

Dickie Lloyd, legendary Ireland fly-half who played before and after World War 1, died at his home in Dungannon, Northern Ireland, aged 59. First capped as a teenager in a 0-0 draw at Twickenham in 1910, he played 19 times for Ireland.

Not for the first time Lancashire and Yorkshire shared a scoreless draw in a County Championship round-robin match in the Northern Division. The result left the counties tied at the top of the group table and they would have to meet again to play-off for a quarter-final place.

A good Saturday crowd sensibly avoiding last-minute Christmas shopping was rewarded with an entertaining match at Old Deer Park where London Welsh, inspired by scrum-half Alun Lewis, beat Leicester 12-6 in cold, crisp conditions.

Enjoying their best season for years London Irish beat Saracens 30-23 in the Premiership at the Madejski Stadium. The Exiles broke up for Christmas with only three defeats from a dozen league games.


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