January 21 down the years
The end of England's golden era
England and Wales scrap in the quagmire at Cardiff in 1922 © Scrum.com

"The golden era is over … for a side that collapsed pathetically" lamented the Daily Mirror after England's 6-3 loss in Cardiff . "Wales were the arrogant masters of stodgy, stale-looking England," the report continued. Wales scored two tries in the first half and by all accounts deserved to run up a much bigger score. But as if to show how views differ, the Daily Express called it "the finest post-war Anglo-Welsh duel". And RFU president Tom Voyce was not too unhappy. "I don't mind losing a game like this one," he said. "Considering the conditions, the players gave us wonderful fare."

On the same day South Africa beat Scotland 12-5 at Murrayfield to complete their fourth Grand Slam of the Home Unions. Two first-half tries put the Spingboks 6-0 up at the break, but the Scots pulled back to 6-5 - Arthur Smith becoming the only man to cross the South Africa line in an international on the tour - only to concede two late penalties for scrum infringements.

The last man to represent England at two major sports, MJK (Mike) Smith, won his sole rugby cap playing fly-half against Wales's Cliff Morgan at Twickenham, losing 8-3. The cricketing bible Wisden wrote of his debut: "Smith had a particularly bad afternoon from which - for that reason and reasons of cricket - he has never recovered." In the game, controversy reigned when a Peter Jackson 'try' for England just before half-time was denied as the referee ruled he had not played the ball with his foot on a penalty. Tommy Vile, president of the Welsh Rugby Union, himself a referee, said: "I would certainly not have grumbled if Jackson had been awarded a try. It looked all right to me."

Less than 24 hours after being sent off for stamping in Wales' defeat to France, Ponypridd captain Kevin Moseley was handed a then-record 32 week ban by the Five Nations committee. "We believe the sentence is justified and reasonable," explained chairman Ronnie Dawson. "There is no place in the game for foul play. We are determined to get rid of it at all levels."

Scotland captain Dougie Morgan won hearts and minds but lost a Five Nations point. With his side trailing 12-9 in Dublin he eschewed a kickable penalty that would have achieved a draw and went in vain for a match-winning try. Morgan had earlier kicked all of his side's points but could not find a response to a try by Ireland's replacement flanker Stewart McKinney.

Wales overwhelmed England, scoring eight tries in a 28-6 win at a muddy Cardiff Arms Park. "The heavy defeat will probably be attributed to the state of the ground," concluded the Daily Mirror. "Still it stands as a tribute to the Welshmen that they opened out the play well under such circumstances." Amusingly, one newspaper that morning warned that they were worried the Welsh might not make a game of it.

Wales won at Twickenham at last. On their tenth visit to the RFU's headquarters they beat England 7-3 with wing Ronnie Boon scoring a try (worth three points) and dropping a goal (worth four) in his penultimate Test match. England dominated the first half to go in 3-0 up but then Wales hit back in a game described as "exciting without being in any way spectacular".

Eighteen-year-old Lewis Jones made a notable Welsh debut in an 11-5 win against England at Twickenham for the first time in 17 years. Jones, playing out of position at fullback, won the plaudits and the Daily Mirror said he had "the makings of one of the finest fullbacks Wales has produced". A switch to rugby league two years later ended that dream. A then record crowd of 75,000 watched the match.

© Scrum.com

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