April 23 down the years
Harlequins enter Sevens heaven
Wavell Wakefield is dispossessed during the Middlesex Sevens semi final between Harlequins and Old Millhillians, Twickenham, May 19, 1928
Wavell Wakefield is dispossessed during the Middlesex Sevens. His Harlequins side won the first four tournaments © Getty Images

Wavell Wakefield led Harlequins to the second of their four successive wins in the second Middlesex Sevens, beating Blackheath 28-6. The surprise package of the day was Surrey club side Old Cranleighans who came within minutes of beating Blackheath in the semi-finals before losing 11-5. Perhaps less of a surprise than it might seem as in those different times the old boys were able to field a XV made up entirely of internationals and county players. The final was preceded by a 1000-a-side game between spectators. Earlier matches were played at the Harlequins' ground at Teddington and the Exiles home at Orleans Park.

Again Old Cranleighans reached the semi-finals, although this time they lost to Harlequins II, after extra time and with the handicap of only having six players for most of the game after Bill Beynon was injured . The Harlequins first team had already lost to OMTs in the opening round of the day and the 2nd side lost the final 18-10 to Blackheath.

The controversial tour of South Africa by the New Zealand Cavaliers opened in Johannesburg where the tourists won 22-21 against the Junior Springboks. The tour was arranged after the official All Blacks series in 1985 was cancelled due to political pressure, and there was further unhappiness when reports emerged players had been paid large sums to take part at a time rugby remained amateur. The poor reaction in New Zealand meant there were no future rugby contacts until the South African apartheid regime ended.

A trial match in Wellington to help decide who would be included in the All Blacks side to tour South Africa was disrupted when a number of spectators invaded the pitch as a protest against the tour. Their gripe was less than the side was going but more that the NZ board had bowed to pressure from the Apartheid regime in South Africa and agreed not to include any Maori players.

Red faces at Northampton where an RFU investigation followed them playing Ben Foden against London Irish despite his match time being limited as an England elite-squad player. "I just forgot," said Northampton director of rugby Jim Mallinder. "I don't see it as an issue. I hope a sensible view will be taken." It was.

Lansdowne Road was the scene of the Leinster-Munster Heineken Cup semi-final. Munster, coached by Declan Kidney, ran out surprisingly easy winners 30-6 with out-half Ronan O'Gara scoring 20 of their points, although two tries in added time gave the scoreline a very one-sided look.

John Dawes, who had played such an influential role in the rise of the London Welsh club, played his last first-class match for them, turning out in the unaccustomed role of fly-half in their 10-7 Easter Monday win at Newport.

Dublin celebrated its Millennium with a special Ireland-England international outside the Championship. England won 21-10 at Lansdowne Road on St George's Day. A mixed day, however, for Micky Skinner who had his nose broken by a punch at the day's first lineout.

Blackheath beat the USA Olympic side 13-9, the Times noting that the tourists' "obvious limitations of the finer points of the game" cost them the win although they did score three tries to Blackheath's two. The USA were on a short tour to prepare for the summer Olympics.

Sky Television unveiled plans for a multi-million pound professional southern hemisphere Super 12 rugby league tournament. A breakaway tournament, much as Kerry Packer's World Series cricket had been, reports emerged vast sums had been offered to players as part of a bitter battle between Murdoch and Packer. Although not a union problem, many top players were believed to have been offered lucrative contracts to lure them into a code switch.

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