May 16 down the years
The naked French actress who proved irresistible
Emmanuelle Beart ... inadvertent rugby recruitment © Getty Images
Money or lifestyle are the usual reasons for players heading to France, but England one-cap-wonder Richard Pool-Jones told the Daily Express his decision to play for Biarritz came about when he watched actress Emmanuelle Beart taking a shower in a film. "Seeing her nude in such lovely countryside I knew that is where I had to go and I telephoned all the French clubs from the next day on," he said. "That was a magnificent scene. I was dreadful at French at school. Couldn't speak a word of it. I was supposed to be going off to the City to be a banker, but that convinced me I was not ready for life in an office."
Rugby's increased profile was confirmed when Jonny Wilkinson boosted his annual earnings to an estimated £7 million when he signed to be the face of Travelex in a two-year deal. Always the consummate professional, Wilkinson said: "If a commercial contract cut across my kicking practice only one thing would go and that would be the commercial time. Nothing is more important to me than rugby, being the best and improving. I'd never do too much outside that to damage my career."
England ran in 15 tries as they thrashed Japanese province Kyushu 80-3 in a tour match, beating the previous tour record of 64 points set against Western Australia six years earlier. I know people will see the scoreline and say the opposition must have been a lot of rubbish," skipper Bill Beaumont said. "Well tell them from me that they would be insulting Kyushu. I've played against far less
accomplished footballing sides."
On tour with the Lions, Jackie Kyle enchanted the crowd at Rugby Park, Greymouth, with a virtuoso performance at fly-half. The great Irishman crossed for a hat-trick of tries in the Lions' 32-3 win against West Coast.
Leicester Tigers clinched the 2008-09 Premiership crown with a narrow 10-9 victory over London Irish in the season finale at Twickenham. A try from No.8 Jordan Crane and a penalty and conversion from the boot of scrum-half Julien Dupuy were enough to see off the Exiles for whom Delon Armitage kicked two penalties and Peter Hewat a long-range drop goal. Victory in the largely-disappointing finale saw the Tigers claim the English crown for a record eighth time.
The Lions suffered their first defeat at the hands of Taranaki in New Zealand, losing out by a try to nil. The first recognised tour by a British touring side was captained by Bob Seddon who tragically drowned during the tour in a sculling accident on August 13. England cricket captain Andrew Stoddart took on the captaincy for the remainder of the tour.
The Irish team lost the opening match of their tour of South Africa, failing 18-15 against the Gazelles at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
Castres retained the French Championship title, beating Racing Club de France 11-8 in the final at Toulouse. For Racing, it was their first final for 30 years, for Castres, their third in a row.
Lourdes and Toulon draw the French Championship final 9-9 after extra time in Toulouse. Lourdes were declared champions by virtue of their 2-0 try superiority - the first time the title had been decided by this method.
Béziers won the French Championship final beating Toulon 15-6 after extra time. It was the first of ten Championship titles the club won between 1971 and 1984.
England's administrators came under attack after saying that players would be allowed to attend South Africa's rugby centenary celebrations later in the year. The board, who were powerless to do anything other than discourage the players from going, were nonetheless slammed by anti-apartheid campaigners who said they would take action at the "very irresponsible" decision.