May 11 down the years
A code humiliated, a country despised
Wigan's Va''aiga Tuigamala raises the trophy after his team's win in the Middlesex Sevens in 1996 © Getty Images

The great and the good were left spluttering into their G&Ts while the media were left fuming as Wigan, three days after routing Bath at Maine Road, gatecrashed the Middlesex sevens and romped to the title. The Daily Express said the league players were "light years ahead in skill, fitness and technique than anything the Union world can offer". It highlighted, if that was even needed, that while union had gone professional, it's players had a lot to do to catch up their code rivals. "Now they are being paid up to £150,000 a year, they cannot afford to serve up a game where the ball is in play for less than 20 minutes," the Daily Express concluded. "In League it is often in play for more than 70 minutes."

The USA beat Romania 37-0 in the Olympic tournament to set up a deciding match with France )only three teams entered). The Americans were one of the least welcome Olympians ever from the moment they displayed a petulant and arrogant attitude on arrival, and by the time of this game the press had stirred things up so much that every score was greeted with boos from most of the 6000 spectators.

The RFU told Saracens they could not move to a groundshare at Barnet's football club, meaning they had to remain at their dilapidated Vicarage Road base in Watford which included a condemned stand. They remained there until their £14 million redevelopment of the Barnet Copthall athletics stadium was finished, moving into the re-named Allianz Park in February 2013.

British and Irish Lions head coach Ian McGeehchan called Scotland skipper Mike Blair up as replacement for Ireland's Tomas O'Leary as he prepared his squad to tour South Africa. Scrum-half O'Leary broke his ankle on club duty for Munster only three days after being named in the touring party, allowing for Blair to step in. Blair was only the second international captain in the squad, joining Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll. His inclusion took the Scottish contingent to three, with prop Euan Murray and lock Nathan Hines the other representatives. Blair did not feature in the Test matches, losing out to Wales' Mike Phillips.

The Lions were reduced to 14 men after only a quarter of an hour in their match against South Australia in Adelaide. Flanker Derrick Grant retired with concussion but the tourists played brilliant open rugby, scoring eight tries in a 38-11 win.

Newcastle beat Bath 20-15 to go top of the Allied Dunbar Premiership, one point clear of Saracens in the penultimate round of league matches. They held that lead until the end of the season to claim the Premiership crown in their first season in the top flight.

In the Courage League play-off, Bristiol defeated Bedford 19-12 thanks to tries by captain Martin Corry and Kevin Maggs. The West Country club thus staved off the challenge from the Division 2 hopefuls to stay in the top flight.


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