May 4 down the years
Carling riles the old farts
Steve Lander awards Bath an injury-time penalty-try which sealed their win on this day in 1996 © Getty Images

Channel 4 broadcast the Fair Game programme in which England captain Will Carling referred to the RFU's committee as "57 old farts". Twenty-four hours later, Carling, who led England to the Five Nations Grand Slam in 1991, 1992 and 1995, was sacked. It was a story that grew and grew until he was reinstated. Although the headlines were dominated by the old-fart remark, the bigger issue was about the lingering pretence of amateurism. "Everyone seems to do well out of rugby except the players," he said. "It has become more than a fun game … what gets me and a lot of players is the the hypocrisy of the situation. Why don't we just be honest and say there is a lot of money in the game? It is becoming a professional game." Former England prop Jeff Probyn, proposed as a committee man for the following year, countered: "I don't think Will has too much to complain about. He has done more than any player to set precedents for off-the field earnings."

An unsavoury postscript to Bath's 16-15 win over Leicester in the Pilkington Cup final came when Neil Back shoved referee Steve Lander to the ground at the end of the match. Back then petulantly refused to collect his loser's tankard. Back's anger came after Lander awarded Bath an injury-time penalty-try after persistent interference from Leicester. Back claimed it was accidental but the authorities were unimpressed and he was banned for six months. It later emerged most Leicester players had wanted to boycott the post-match ceremony but Dean Richards persuaded him otherwise.

Romania guaranteed their first ever Olympic medal, simply by turning up to be overwhelmed 61-3 by France as one of only three contenders for the rugby title. The French ran in 13 tries including four by the fine Stade Francais winger Adolphe Jauréguy.

Special matches to mark the Silver Jubilee of King George V were staged at Twickenham and Cardiff. Barbarians beat London Counties 34-3 and a Welsh XV defeated the Rest 13-5 at the Arms Park.

Five London Welsh players, including skipper John Dawes, bolstered London Counties in their end-of-season 16-6 win against Paris at the Jean Bouin Stadium.

London Welsh's three-year unbeaten run in the Middlesex Sevens ended when they were beaten 34-16 by Richmond in the final. The defeat was a record score for a final as well.

Scotland claimed their first win on tour, beating Griqualand West 21-11 at Kimberley.


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