• October 6 down the years

Agony for Gregan

Martin Corry crunches George Gregan © Getty Images

Rugby union's most capped player would have hoped for a different end to his international career. England had made a dismal start to their defence of the World Cup. After a dreadful 36-0 defeat by South Africa, players were openly questioning head coach Brian Ashton: 'Look, Brian, no-one's got an effing clue how we're supposed to be playing here'. Unconvincing wins over Samoa (September 22) and Tonga (September 28) scraped a place in the quarter-finals, but that was surely as far as it was went: Australia were next up. The Wallabies had won all four of their group games, including one against Wales, and looked certain to avenge their defeat in the 2003 final (November 22). But a sea change took place here in Marseille. For several years now, Australia had been getting away with it in the front row. Weak props like Al Baxter and Matt Dunning were always struggling, but they kept pulling down scrums and being awarded penalties by referees who couldn't see what was going on (read Brian Moore on the subject). When it happened today, English hearts sank. But when it happened again, the referee had a Damascus moment. Pointing at the flabby Dunning, he firmly instructed him to 'Take the pressure.' The whole match changed there and then. Dunning was world pie-eating champion in 2006 (yes, really), not the best training for taking on England's Andrew Sheridan, the hardest prop in world rugby. Forced to behave himself, Dunning couldn't compete - and Australia were on the back foot from then on. They still lost only 12-10; Lote Tuqiri scored the only try of the game; and captain Stirling Mortlock nearly won the match with a late penalty. But England had denied them possession, with Simon Shaw doing a superb job at the lineout - so scrum-half George Gregan was constantly under pressure in his 139th match for Australia, a world record which still stands. A top win for England, who took a lot of confidence into their semi-final against the hosts (October 13).

Firsts for Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost. The European Grand Prix was held at Brands Hatch that year, and Ayrton Senna started on pole. But Mansell held a tight line to overtake him on the inside after eight laps, then led the rest of the way, finishing 21 seconds clear and winning a World Championship race for the first time. Behind them, Alain Prost overcame a poor start to work his way through to fourth place, which gave him the world title for the first time. Mansell won the next race too, in South Africa, and 31 in all, the last in 1994 (November 13).

On the same day that Mansell won his first Grand Prix, Marita Koch was raising eyebrows in Canberra. At the track and field World Cup, she ran the 400 metres in a monstrous 47.60 seconds. It was Koch's seventh world record in the event, starting with 49.9 in 1978. Her 47.60 is still with us, like so many other world records from the 1980s - for instance, the one in the women's 4x100 metres relay, which was also set today. The 41.37 seconds clocked by Koch's team mates was East Germany's 12th consecutive world record in the event, breaking the one set by a quartet which included Koch herself. No other country has held it since 1973.

A disastrous opening match for Wales at the rugby union World Cup. If they took Western Samoa lightly, they were soon given a reality check. Northern Hemisphere teams weren't prepared for the chest-high tackling used by the Pacific Islanders. Spectacular and borderline legal, it forced three Welsh players to be substituted with shoulder injuries: Tony Clement, Richie Collins, and Phil May. And Wales had no luck with the referee. Early in the second half, he gave the Samoans a try even though Robert Jones beat To'o Vaega to the touchdown. When Sila Vaifale scored a second try from a pass by his captain Peter Fatialofa, Wales trailed 13-3. They did really well to draw level with tries from their wings Arthur Emyr and Ieuan Evans - but Mathew Vaea kicked a winning penalty. WS's formidable centre Frank Bunce, who was making his international debut, later played superbly for the All Blacks. Wales went on to an undistinguished win over Argentina, but had to face Australia in their final group game (October 12). One wag thought it could have been worse: 'Thank god they weren't playing the whole of Samoa!'

In the same World Cup, No.8 Brian Robinson equalled the world record for a forward when he became the first player to score four tries in a game for Ireland. Prop Nick Popplewell scored two of Ireland's other four tries in a 55-11 win over Zimbabwe in Dublin, while fly-half Ralph Keyes kicked four conversions and five penalty goals on his way to becoming the tournament's top scorer. Both of Robinson's records were equalled by Keith Wood during the 1999 World Cup (October 2).

Baseball legend Babe Ruth became the first batter to hit four runs (including three homers) in a World Series game. His New York Yankees won it 10-5, but the St Louis Cardinals took the Series 4-3. The Babe and the Yankees won it in each of the next two years.

A brotherly one-two at golf's British Open. The event was completed in a single day, with two rounds of 18 holes each. Hugh Kirkcaldy shot two 83s, Andrew Kirkcaldy two 84s to finish joint second with former champion Willie Fernie. This was the third time Andrew was runner-up in the Open; he went on to finish third three more times but never won it. Another brother, John, also did well in the event.

Golfing great Walter Hagen had won the US PGA four years in a row (November 5). But here in Baltimore, he lost 2&1 to Leo Diegel in the quarter-finals. With the biggest hurdle out of the way, Diegel blasted his way through the rest of the tournament. He thrashed another hall-of-famer Gene Sarazen 9&8 in the semi-finals, then Al Espinosa 6&5 in the final. Diegel retained the title the following year.

Top British boxer Ted 'Kid' Lewis won his first major title. When he faced Alec Lambert for the vacant British and European featherweight titles, Lewis had already had 133 pro fights, the first in 1909 when he was only 15. Tonight at the National Sporting Club in central London, he was much faster throughout, preventing Lambert from getting inside his left lead. The fight was scheduled for 20 rounds, but it was stopped in the 17th by referee Johnny Douglas, a future Test cricketer who'd won Olympic boxing gold in 1908 (October 27). Lewis went on to become world champion at welterweight and fight the USA's Jack Britton twenty times (February 7 1921).