• October 31 down the years

Three historic defeats for the All Blacks

Christophe Lamaison was the hero of France's 1999 victory over the All Blacks © Getty Images

Three historic defeats for the All Blacks.

The 1972 squad were dull, unsmiling - and vulnerable. They lost to France in Paris and four times in Britain. Today they met Llanelli at Stradey Park at a time when Welsh club sides were strong enough to take on major touring teams - and Llanelli were packed with international players. Pace on the wing from JJ Williams, flair and trickery from Phil Bennett and Chico Hopkins at half-back, and a combative and mobile pack. The New Zealand centres didn't enjoy the tackling of Roy Bergiers and Ray Gravell, and their forwards had their work cut out against Derek Quinnell and Tom David. Before the match, Llanelli captain Delme Thomas told the team he'd give up all his Wales and British Lions caps to win for his club today, in their centenary year. They responded with a try after only five minutes. Bennett hit the bar with a 45-yard penalty - and when Lyn Colling tried to clear the loose ball, his kick was charged down by Bergiers, who fell on the ball over the line. Joe Karam kicked a penalty for the All Blacks, but Andy Hill landed the most famous kick in the club's history. Ten minutes from time, his 50-yard penalty made the final score 9-3. Another triumph for Carwyn James, who'd coached the Lions to victory in New Zealand (August 14 1971).

In 1978, the All Blacks were in Limerick to play Munster. Irish clubs have never been strong enough to meet top touring teams or compete in the Heineken Cup, but their provinces have had their moments. Munster followed the Llanelli pattern of a talented fly-half pulling strings behind a pack who stood their ground - and scoring an early try. Tony Ward was the fly-half, and his neat chip was gathered by left-wing Jimmy Bowen, who avoided three tackles in a 40-yard run before his inside pass put flanker Christy Cantillon in. Ward dropped a goal in each half, and Munster's defence was so disciplined that the All Blacks didn't score a point or have a single kick at goal. Their 12-0 defeat was the only one they've ever suffered in Ireland. They returned to Thomond Park in November 2008 for the 30th anniversary of the match - and trailed 16-13 with only four minutes to go before Joe Rokocoko scored the winning try.

In 1999
, New Zealand were on the wrong end of one of the great comebacks in international rugby. Until then, they'd trampled all opposition underfoot on the way to this World Cup semi-final at Twickenham. They scored 30 points against both England (October 9) and Scotland (October 24), and another 31 today, which looked like being more than enough. Their back four was one of the most dynamic of all time: Jeff Wilson, Christian Cullen, Tana Umaga - and giant Jonah Lomu, who'd carried on where he left off in 1995 by scoring in every match after smashing his way through Lilliputian defences. He scored another two today, a record eight for the tournament - and New Zealand led 24-10. But they were up against France, and you can never be sure about France. The All Blacks had beaten them 54-7 just a few months earlier, but here New Zealand were suddenly engulfed by some of the most dazzling back play at any World Cup. A lot of it came from Christophe Dominici, who was the physical opposite of Lomu: a jack-in-box little winger who seemed to be everywhere at once. He scored a try, and one of his sidestepping runs made another for fly-half Christophe Lamaison, who scored in all four ways and didn't miss a kick at goal. Lamaison converted all four tries and landed three penalties and two drop goals. No-one has matched his 28 in a match against New Zealand - and he scored another 27 against them the following year. France racked up an astonishing 33 points without reply, and Jeff Wilson's last-minute try only reduced the scoreline to 43-31. Lock forward Robin Brooke was winning the last of his 62 caps, the final 49 without missing a match. But France were looking forward, not back. To what would surely be a classic final against Australia.

Mika Häkkinen retained the Formula 1 world title by winning the final race in Japan. In Malaysia two weeks earlier, the Ferraris of Eddie Irvine and Michael Schumacher had been disqualified for a technical infringement (October 17), which handed the title to Häkkinen. But then Ferrari won their appeal, so Irvine got his points back, which left him leading the championship by four with only Japan to come. Schumacher was out of the hunt after missing six races with a broken leg, but he helped his team mate in Japan by taking pole position. However, Irvine did himself no favours by qualifying in fifth, three places behind Häkkinen. And he was never quite at the business end of the race. Schumacher briefly regained the lead from Häkkinen, but the champion kept it for most of the race, winning one when it really mattered. His McLaren was so fast that it took pole in 11 of the 16 Grands Prix that season, but he hadn't won any of the last four. Meanwhile Irvine finished a distant third in Japan. Häkkinen topped the final table by only two points but would have won the title even if Schumacher had let Irvine through into second place. It was the last World Championship race for former world champion Damon Hill (October 13 1996).

Was this the night it all began to unravel for Naseem Hamed? Even though he won the fight. Belfast's Wayne McCullough had given up the WBC bantamweight belt to campaign among bigger boys. His attempt at the WBC super-bantamweight title ended in defeat by a split decision - and tonight he didn't have the speed or power to trouble Hamed, who kept his WBO featherweight title on points. He later lost another go at the super-bantamweight title, then was banned from fighting in Britain after a cyst was found inside his skull. He wasn't allowed to fight in Britain until 2002. Meanwhile back to Prince Naseem. On this trip to Atlantic City, he carried on getting up people's noses, only more so. A cock-up on the visa front made him late getting in, leaving him less time to acclimatise to the time difference. And he abused a TV commentator who dared to question his preparation. According to the interviewer, 'He needs to go away from here and ask himself some fairly serious questions.' Like the lack of impact he made with his punching. Instead of winning in three rounds as he'd boasted, he had to get on his bike to stay clear of McCullough, who claimed Hamed 'stole it as he ran away'. Nemesis was close at hand. On the same bill, Marco Antonio Barrera won the vacant WBO super-bantamweight title. He didn't fight Hamed until three years later, but when he did a lot of people enjoyed the result (April 7).

A better result for another top boxer from Northern Ireland. But not a better performance. And again there was an ersatz championship at stake. Victory over Alphonse Halimi of France had given Johnny Caldwell the European and New York version of the world bantamweight title (May 30). Now they were back at the Empire Pool in Wembley for the rematch. They avoided controversy this time, but they also avoided just about everything else. There was so little boxing and so much holding that the crowd booed and slow-handclapped long before the end. Caldwell did what little point-scoring there was, using his jab to keep Halimi at bay and cutting his eye in the last round. But this wasn't the display of a bona fide world champion. To prove his claim, Caldwell would have to beat Éder Jofre (January 18) - and this fight made him a clear underdog.

In the last event of the first Olympics in London, Britain completed their domination of these Games, collecting their 56th gold and 146th medal by winning the inaugural hockey event. After thumping France 10-1 and Scotland 6-1, they outplayed Ireland today. Two goals by Gerald Logan and another by Reggie Pridmore gave them a 3-0 lead after twenty minutes. Early in the second half, Frank Robinson pulled one back for Ireland, but within four minutes a good run by famous centre-forward Stanley Shoveller led to a second goal for Logan, his old school chum. After that, the Irish half-backs couldn't hold the English forwards. Shoveller scored twice and Pridmore completed his third hat-trick of the tournament to make the final score 8-1. There was no more hockey at the Olympics until 1920, when Shoveller won another gold.

John H Stracey's first title fight as a professional ended in disqualification. Competing for the vacant British welterweight title at the Albert Hall, he was completely in charge against Bobby Arthur. Then, in the seventh round, he threw a punch after the referee had called a break, and Arthur was in no hurry to get up. Before their rematch the following year, Stracey had five warm-up fights, Arthur none at all. Stracey knocked him out in the fourth round, then fought one of the all-time greats for a world title.

On the same bill as the first Stracey-Arthur fight, John Conteh was already living up to his reputation for using his head. When Bill Drover was stopped in the seventh round, it looked as if his cut eye had been caused by Conteh's head. No wonder Chris Finnegan christened Conteh 'Old Pickle Head' (May 21 1974).

Still on the same card, Alan Minter made his professional debut, stopping Maurice Thomas in the sixth and last round of a middleweight fight. Like Stracey and Conteh (October 1 1974), Minter went on to win a world title (March 16 1980).

At San Sebastian in Spain, Britain's Richard Nerurkar won the Marathon World Cup. That year, he'd won the British National Cross-Country title for the third time, but he didn't have the finishing pace for medals on the track: two years earlier, he'd finished fifth in the 10,000 metres at the World Championships. Now he'd found his event at the age of 29, improving his personal best to a respectable 2 hours 10 minutes 3 seconds. But despite its grand title, this wasn't an event which caught on, and it attracted a weak field today. Nerurkar made his final break on an uphill section with seven kilometres to go and finished only nine seconds ahead of Italy's Severino Bernardini.

The women's race was dominated by that year's bevy of controversial Chinese runners. Wang Junxia won in 2 hours 28 minutes 16 seconds, and her team mates filled the next three places - which would have been five if Qu Yunxia, the world record holder at 1500 metres, hadn't dropped out injured. Questioned about performance-enhancing drugs, Wang extolled the dietary benefits of ginseng and soft-shelled turtles.

American football legend Slingin' Sammy Baugh threw six touchdown passes as the Washington Redskins beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 48-10. But his great rival didn't let him keep the record for long. A fortnight later, Sid Luckman made seven TD passes for the Chicago Bears against the New York Giants. Three years earlier, the two great quarter-backs had met in a seminal and staggering Championship Game (December 8).