May 31 down the years
The first Englishman to be sent off
Laurence Dallaglio bows out on top on this day in 2008 © Getty Images

Mike Burton became the first England player to be sent off in an international when he was dismissed against Australia. The Battle of Brisbane started with punch-up between the packs before the Gloucester prop was sent off by local referee Bob Burnett following a late tackle on Wallabies' wing Doug Osborne in the fourth minute. The disciplinary hearing that followed ruled that no further punishment was necessary and Burton said: "You should have seen the things that were being done to us." Playing almost the entire match with 14 men, England had little chance as the Wallabies scored five tries in a 30-21 victory.Three other England players have since been dismissed in Tests: locks Danny Grewcock (1998) and Simon Shaw (2004) in New Zealand and Lewis Moody (2005) against Samoa at Twickenham.

Laurence Dallaglio bowed out at Twickenham after leading Wasps to a 26-16 win over Leicester in the Guinness Premiership final. The capacity crowd of 81,600 stood to cheer as Dallaglio left the field for the last time after 68 minutes. Wasps were good for their seventh trophy in six seasons but the final minutes were rather marred by uncontested scrums.

England scraped past Italy 27-20 at the World Cup, their second unconvincing win in a week. The Underwood brothers scored England's first tries in three games, but again it was Rob Andrew's boot - five penalties and a conversion - which bailed the side out. In Johannesburg, Wales slid to their 12th straight loss to the All Blacks, going down 34-9. The hype around Jona Lomu for once proved excessive. Switched to the right wing to protect him from the running skills of Ieuan Evans, he only managed one burst before being substituted in agony with a bruised shoulder.

As the group stages of the inaugural World Cup drew to a close, Italy - labelled no hopers before the tournament - registered an upset in beating Fiji 18-15 even though it was not enough to take them into the semi-finals. Australia eased past the USA 47-12 but their coach Alan Jones was left fuming by the USA's decision to rest players ahead of their game against England. "I don't think we can say 'God Bless America' if the bridesmaid is sent out instead of the bride," he chuntered.

Gavin Henson's life in the public eye ensured his split from fiancée Charlotte Church made all the tabloid front pages. Within a day Henson was pictured on a beach in Benidorm.

Wilson Whineray, legendary All Black skipper who led New Zealand in 30 Tests between 1958 and 1965, was knighted in the Queen's Birthday Honours List. Whineray is widely acclaimed as one of, if not the, best All Black captains in history. His unique, visionary leadership skills saw him captain the All Blacks in 30 of his 32 tests.

Wales, the reigning Five Nations champions, conceded four tries in a crushing 19-0 defeat in their first ever Test in New Zealand. It was an unpleasant match which left Wales hooker Jeff Young in hospital with a broken jaw after he was punched.

Phil Nel's Springboks opened their tour of Australia and New Zealand with a 47-8 win against Western Australia in an unofficial tour game in Perth.

The second All Blacks to South Africa open their visit with an 11-9 victory against the Western Province Universities in Cape Town.

After failing to win their three previous matches, the British & Irish Lions put their tour of New Zealand back on track with a 27-8 win against South Canterbury at Timaru.

South Africa wrapped up their series against the New Zealand Cavaliers with a 24-10 win in Johannesburg that gave them a 3-1 victory in the rubber.


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