March 31 down the years
'Pinching bottoms and cash is too much'

The South African Rugby Union answered criticism over a seeming player drain to Australia by scrapping racial quotas from their selection systems. SARU President Brian Van Rooyen said: "Our Union deeply regrets the situation, as it is not a fair reflection of what is going on in the country. For the record, SA Rugby has now shifted from the policy of racial quotas."

Bosses at the long-defunct Cambrian Airways issued a statement saying they were no longer prepared to have their stewardesses groped by rugby fans travelling from Cardiff to away internationals. Airline staff had complained of harassment on the flight to Paris for the France game a few days earlier, and one had money stolen from her trolley as he remonstrated with a passenger who had put a hand up her skirt. "We were disgusted by a boisterous small minority," said a spokesman. "Our hostesses can cope with mild amorous advances, but pinching bottoms and cash is too much."

One of the last war-time service internationals brought Great Britain a rather hollow 36-13 success against the Dominions at Leicester. The losers were handicapped by late service calls and to such an extent that the final composition of their XV was not settled until five minutes before kick-off.

The contentious Experimental Law Variations (ELVs) that allowed a maul to be pulled down and unlimited numbers at the lineout were scrapped by the International Rugby Board. The two controversial trials, along with an ELV that reduced many penalty offences to a free kick, were among those thrown out by the sport's governing body following a detailed review. Senior stakeholders from the international rugby community, including a number of the world's top coaches, referees and administrators, debated the results of the global trial at a two-day conference in London and as a result a total of 10 ELVs were recommended to be passed into full law. They included the five-metre off-side line at the scrum and the pass-back rule, which prevents players from making any ground with a direct kick to touch if the ball has been played into their own 22.

The New Zealand Army's Kiwis team wound up their successful European tour with a 24-13 win at Stade Colombes in Paris against an Ile de France XV. In 33 matches they won 29 and lost only two, and the shot in the arm the tour gave to post-war rugby in the Home Unions and France was immeasurable.

Peter Robbins, an England flanker chosen to tour Australia and New Zealand for the 1959 Lions, broke his leg in a heavy collision playing for the Barbarians at Newport and was ruled out of the trip.

Dave Pask, popular Glamorgan Wanderers captain and brother of the Welsh captain, Alun Pask, died aged 31 after a short illness.

The IRB annual meeting announced that Rugby World Cup 1999 made a net profit of £47m.

Cardiff won their first fixture with the Barbarians, played during the famous wandering club's first Easter tour. David Evans, Cardiff's captain and a Welsh international forward, dropped a goal in the Welsh side's 7-3 victory.

Wasps defeated Leicester 36-24 at Loftus Road. The Tigers welcomed back their skipper Martin Johnson for the game after a three week suspension but the great man put in a muted display as Alex King and Kenny Logan kicked all of Wasps' points. Also on this day in 2002, New Zealand defeated France 71-18 in the final of the IRB/FIRA-AER World U19 Championship in Treviso.


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