March 29 down the years
The death of a Prince
Vincent Clerc of France dives over to score as Wales' whitewashed was confirmed in Paris on this day in 2003 © Getty Images

Among the rugby players who died in World War Two, few struck a national nerve as much as the death of Alexander Obolensky, the former Russian Prince who was the hero of England's 13-0 defeat of the All Blacks in 1936. The 24-year-old was killed in action during an RAF training flight in Norfolk when his Hurricane fighter crashed near Martlesham Heath in Ipswich, breaking his neck. His final game was on March 9 when he turned out in a war-time international for England against Wales at Cardiff and he had been selected for the return game on April 13. In 1937 he had said: "I know that if ever England has another war I shall fight, not only because of my love of the country that has adopted me, but also for all she has done for me."

England beat Ireland 3-0 in a blizzard at Twickenham. The match, postponed from February owing to the death of King George VI, was poorly attended - only 40,000 braved the bitter cold and most of those were left wondering why they bothered. A dire game was settled by one score, a try from England centre Brian Boobbyer who pounced on a hopeful long kick which Irish centre George Phipps failed to hold.

wales were whitewashed for only the third time in championship history and the first in the Six Nations, thumped 33-5 by France in Paris. Wales started brightly, so much so that France were whistled off at half-time despite a small lead, but after the break it was one-way traffic, Wales' efforts not helped by the sin-binning of Colin Charvis.

England unveiled Stuart Lancaster as their new coach. His permanent appointment followed his successful reign as interim head coach, during which he led England to second place in the Six Nations and rebuilt the reputation of the national team.

Wales gained a share of the first post-war Five Nations Championship title by depriving the Irish of the Triple Crown in Swansea. A try from Bob Evans and a conversion by lock Bill Tamplin helped the Welsh to a 6-0 victory.

A Five Nations match was staged on Easter Monday for the last time. There were no holiday celebrations for England in Paris after they fell 15-0 to a rampant French side. England finished rock bottom of the table as Ireland recorded a Grand Slam, with only a draw with Wales to show for their efforts. More than 85,000 spectators watched a game described as being "too one-sided to be entertaining".

France won at Cardiff for the first time, with tries from scrum-half Pierre Danos and wing Pierre Tarricq securing a 16-6 victory. Legendary Welsh fly-half Cliff Morgan made his last appearance for Wales in the game, ending a glittering career that took in 29 caps for Wales and four for the British and Irish Lions on their 1955 tour of South Africa.

1959 France warmed up for their important Five Nations match with Wales a week later by defeating Italy 22-0 in Nantes. The side that met Wales showed one change, Alfred Roques returning to replace Amedee Domenech at prop. France triumphed 11-3 at the Stade Colombes.


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