February 25 down the years
England get a sinking feeling
Scott Williams grabs the match-winning score against England at Twickenham in 2012 © PA Photos
Wales beat England 19-12 at Twickenham. Owen Farrell showed maturity beyond his years in his first start at Twickenham to keep England ahead but a late try from Scott Williams broke English hearts. David Strettle thought he had scored with the last play of the game but the TMO ruled that he had failed to ground the ball leaving Wales and skipper Sam Warburton to collect the Triple Crown and their first win at Twickenham since 1988.
Scotland tackled England out of the game to gain an unexpected but thoroughly deserved 18-12 Six Nations victory at a wet and windy Murrayfield. In a battle of the boot, England's Charlie Hodgson and Scotland's Chris Paterson traded penalties in the first half but the hosts edged ahead after the break with a Dan Parks drop goal giving the Scots some breathing room. Hodgson dragged his side back into the game only for Paterson to clinch the Calcutta Cup for his side. "England followed the 'sexy rugby' route to nowhere and ended up with their knickers round their ankles, stripped bare by a Scottish defence constructed on the twin pillars of iron commitment and immense courage," wrote Chris Hewett in The Independent.
England beat France 18-8 at Twickenham to set up a Grand Slam decider in the Calcutta Cup match three weeks later. It was generally agreed the margin of victory flattered England who spent long periods defending their lines - but they counterattacked strongly and the French defence was nowhere near as good as their attack. On the same day Scotland, who England went on to beat, lost 5-13 to Ireland in Edinburgh.
After holding the Springboks to a draw the week before, an unchanged France struggled against England at Twickenham and were lucky to escape with a 5-all draw in the Five Nations. "Little to remember and much boredom," was the conclusion of the Daily Mail. That may have been slightly unfair as the one inspiring moment came when Mickey Weston picked up a loose ball, jinked through the French back line and passed to new cap Vic Harding for the try.
Suffice to say that Ireland's 6-3 win at Murrayfield was dire in the extreme, dominated by endless kicking and constant whistling. The Daily Mirror reporter clearly did not have a good day at the office. "It was like going to a party when you were a kid, full of the anticipation of days which seemed never-ending, and then finding the jellies hadn't set, the ice-cream had melted and the conjuror hadn't turned up."
Scotland lock Scott Macleod was warned and reprimanded after testing positive for the drug Terbutaline - an asthma medication which was on the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned list. However, asthmatic Macleod was been given the go-ahead by an independent judicial committee to continue playing and avoided a possible one-year ban. The Scarlets player failed another drugs test later in the year but was again cleared after investigators accepted that his high levels of testosterone were triggered by alcohol.
England and France joined in a wonderfully entertaining display of open rugby in a game that yielded 28 points, the visitors winning 16-12 to record only their third win at Twickenham. But England were left seething after Irish referee Paddy D'Arcy disallowed what was generally agreed to be a legitimate try by skipper Philip Judd, ruling he had played the ball on the ground as he stretched for the line.
England saved their unbeaten Twickenham Championship record thanks to a late converted try that brought an 11-11 draw against France. In a see-saw match, England led by six points and then trailed by five, and it took Tom Voyce with England's only try (to France's three) to spare their blushes.
A strong British XV beat France 36-3 in a Sunday wartime match at Parc des Princes, Paris. The match was the first between France and a British side since the break in 1931.
John Hyde, selected for England as a Wellingborough schoolboy, made his Test debut on the wing in Paris. Between the announcement and the match Hyde left the school to join the army. There was no dream debut - England lost 6-3.