• November 18 down the years

England avoid humiliation, just

The sporting events of November 18 down the years
Jonny Wilkinson saved England in 2000 © Getty Images

England have never lost eight matches in a row at rugby union, but they came close against South Africa at Twickenham, trailing 18-6 before sneaking home 23-21 thanks to a late try by prop Phil Vickery. Springbok fly-half Butch James scored 13 points, including a try, before coach Jake White took him off with more than 20 minutes left. It was South Africa's seventh consecutive defeat by England who were world champions at the time.

On the same day in the same place in 1995, it was South Africa who were the World Cup holders - and it showed. Flanker Andy Robinson, later the England coach, won his first cap in six years, but he didn't win another one after South Africa won 24-14, their winger Chester Williams scoring two tries and having another one disallowed. England didn't score their try until two minutes from the end.

Hype and eager anticipation are acceptable clich├ęs here, as Chris Eubank met Nigel Benn in a classic match-up. Boxer v puncher, ego v super-ego. Eubank was unbeaten in 24 fights as a professional, Benn had won his last bout by halting the highly rated Iran Barkley in the first round. Against Eubank, he produced more of those big punches, but his defence wasn't the greatest - and whatever you thought about Eubank the self-publicist, there was no doubt about his courage. By stopping Benn in the ninth round, he took away his WBO middleweight title, which he himself held against umpteen challengers for more than four years, including a draw with Benn in 1993.

In Cairo, England's young squash team met defending champions Pakistan in the final of the World Team Championships. Simon Parke kept the great Jansher Khan on court for an hour before losing, and Del Harris used his speed to thrash Zarak Jahan Khan. England's No.1 Peter Marshall had dropped out with fatigue, leaving new boy Peter Chaloner to play the deciding singles. No worries. He won in straight games against Mir Zaman Gul, the star of Pakistan's win over Australia in the semi-final, and England took the team title for the first time since 1979.

Shirley Strong was born in Cheshire. She won the 100 metres hurdles at the 1982 Commonwealth Games and went to the 1984 Olympics as favourite in the absence of the Eastern European countries who boycotted the Games. But she finished second, 0.04 behind the winner Benita Fitzgerland-Brown.

The fight that confirmed Roy Jones jnr as the real deal. Well, we already knew that, ever since he was robbed of Olympic gold after battering a Korean all round the ring in Seoul. But this was the pro fight that launched him. His opponent James Toney was the unbeaten IBF world super-middleweight champion, regarded as pound-for-pound the best in the business. Jones jnr took him apart, knocking him down in the third and winning a unanimous decision. For the next ten years, Jones was the best boxer in the world, winning titles at four weights, including the heaviest.

Marjorie Gestring was born. Only 13 years 268 days old when she won the springboard diving competition in 1936, she's still the youngest Olympic gold medallist in an individual event.

In the deciding third Test, Australia beat an ageing Great Britain 23-6 at Leeds to retain the rugby league Ashes. The match was won by half-time, when the Kangaroos led 19-0 after scoring three tries.

Frank Shields was born in New York. The only tennis player to forfeit a Wimbledon singles final through injury, he handed 19-year-old Sidney Wood the title in 1931. The top tennis pin-up of his day, Shields was runner-up in the US Championships the previous year. His grand-daughter, the actress Brooke Shields, married Andre Agassi.

Deep into injury time at Twickenham, England were trailing world champions Australia 19-15 when Iain Balshaw's chip-and-chase put the ball in the corner. Although Dan Luger beat Wallaby scrum-half Sam Cordingley to the touchdown, it wasn't clear that he grounded the ball properly. The video referee awarded a try, Jonny Wilkinson added the superfluous conversion to his four penalties and drop goal, and England won 22-19, Matt Burke scoring all of Australia's points. Cue 'Luger triggers celebrations' headlines. It was England's tenth win in a row.

Over in Paris on the same day, France had a free-for-all with the All Blacks, winning 42-33, three tries each, with Christophe Lamaison kicking 27 points.

As Mike Tyson proved against Michael Spinks on 27 June 1988, a good big 'un will usually duff up a good little 'un. Bob Foster was world light-heavyweight champion from 1968 until he relinquished the title in 1974 - but he would keep getting in with bigger men. Muhammad Ali and Ernie Terrell were just two of the heavyweights who beat him - and here he took on Joe Frazier for the world title. Foster's long arms gave him the leverage that made him a famously destructively puncher - but his long legs made him look like Bambi against a thumper like Frazier, who knocked him out in the second round.

Albert Oldman was born. He gets in here not so much as the first British fighter to become Olympic heavyweight champion as the recipient of the fastest gold medal in the history of boxing at the Games, winning two fights in one round each, with a bye to the final in between.

Karl Schranz was born, a leading skier who had no luck. He did win the world downhill title in 1962 and was twice overall World Cup champion. But at the 1968 Winter Olympics in France, he was disqualified for allegedly missing a gate after finishing first in the slalom. The gold was controversially given to Frenchman Jean-Claude Killy (born 30 August 1943), his third of the Games. Finally, Schranz was kept out of the 1972 Olympics by accusations of professionalism made by the 84-year-old Avery Brundage, a rich man who could afford the luxury of amateurism. 'Slavery Bondage' stepped down as IOC president after the Games, too late for the unfortunate Schranz, who'd been born into poverty.

In their first international match in Britain, New Zealand beat Scotland 12-7 in Edinburgh. The All Blacks' inability to kick conversions surfaced again against England on 2 December, but it didn't matter then and it didn't matter now: they scored four to the hosts' one. Grant 'Grunt' MacLeod finally made his debut for Scotland. He'd been picked to play two years earlier, but his headmaster refused permission. Grunt was 15 at the time.