• March 18 down the years

A first defeat for Eubank

Chris Eubank riled his trainer in defeat to Steve Collins © Getty Images
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1995
Chris Eubank's first defeat as a professional. In his 44th fight, he lost his WBO super-middleweight title against Irish hard man Steve Collins. Eubank's punches were cleaner and arrived in clusters, but he didn't sustain his attacks and Collins rode them out. It's easy to speculate that the tragic fight with Michael Watson on September 21, 1991 made Eubank fight within himself, but he'd been like that throughout his career. Even when he had Collins down in the tenth, he showboated, to the frustration of his trainer: "He will regret it for the rest of his life, slinging his title away like that." Collins had knocked him down in the eighth, and the points decision was close but unanimous. Eubank came back to Ireland for the rematch six months later, when the decision was split but the result the same. Collins retired after making another six successful defences, including two against Nigel Benn.

1949
Alex 'Hurricane' Higgins was born in Belfast and became snooker's great troubled genius. Not as good at the basics as Ronnie O'Sullivan, but with the talent and audacity to make pots from any position, bad as well as good. Witness the frame of a lifetime at the World Championship on May 14, 1982. He won that title, for the first time since February 26, ten years earlier - and the early 1970s are really the era he belonged in, when you practised by playing exhibitions for beer money in a working man's club or hustled a few quid in snooker halls. You had a drink in those places, which led to the Hurricane's run-ins with authority: head-butting a referee, punching a tournament official, threatening to have Dennis Taylor shot. You smoked there too, and major tournaments were sponsored by cigarette companies, hence the throat cancer that hit Higgins in the late nineties. Even at his peak, safety players like Ray Reardon and Cliff Thorburn beat him in World Championship finals, but he came back to beat Reardon in 1982, and anyway they owed everything to him. Single-handedly, he made snooker popular and snooker players rich. Doff your hats like he did.

2006
The 1,000th match played in rugby's Six Nations. A mixed bag of an England team lost 28-24 at Twickenham, big Shane Horgan scoring two of Ireland's three tries. World Cup winning scrum-half Matt Dawson came on as a sub to win his last cap.

1967
Judy Devlin Hashman retained the All-England singles title and won it for the 10th time, still the record by any player, man or woman. In the final today against Noriko Takagi of Japan, she survived a match point at 10-8 down in the third and final game. Takagi lost her nerve, hit her serve out of court, and lost 12-10. Hashman won her first All-England title in 1954 when she was 18. Her father Frank won the men's singles six times.

1995
England won their third rugby Grand Slam of the decade - and as on March 16 four years earlier, won it without a flourish. Rob Andrew scored all their points in a 24-12 win: seven penalties and a drop goal. Afterwards, England hooker Brian Moore caused apoplexy among delicate Scottish souls by suggesting that their team had come to kill the game and he felt sorry for the spectators. He received the usual pile of irate letters that came his way whenever he told it like it was. Will Carling was the only player to captain three Grand Slam teams.

1915
Evie Pinching was born. Although she finished only 9th in the combined at the 1936 Winter Olympics, she did better at the World Championships that year. In the absence of the all-conquering Cristl Cranz, the gold medallist at those Olympics, Pinching won the downhill and combined and finishing second in the slalom. They were the last medals Britain ever won at the Championships.

1978
At the All-England Badminton Championships, Britain's Gillian Gilks beat Saori Kondo of Japan 11-1 11-9 to regain the title she won in 1976. But the great Rudi Hartono failed in his attempt to win the men's title for the ninth time, losing the final in straight games to fellow Indonesian Liem Swie-King.

2000
At the World Short-Course Swimming Championships, Britain's James Hickman won the 200 metres butterfly for the third year in a row. He won it for a record fifth time on October 11, 2004.

2000
England crashed out of the rugby league World Cup, thrashed 49-6 by New Zealand in the semi-final in Bolton. Man of the match Stephen Kearney scored the first of New Zealand's eight tries after only three minutes, and New England trailed 21-0 at half-time. Tony Smith scored their only try. It was converted by Andy Farrell, who later played rugby union for England. So did two of the opposition: big Lesley Vainikolo, who scored two tries today, and Henry Paul, who kicked 17 points.

Gareth Edwards, seen here against England, made 53 consecutive appearances for Wales © Getty Images
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1978
In rugby union, Wales won the Grand Slam by beating France 16-7 in Cardiff - then their famous half-backs retired from international rugby. Gareth Edwards, who dropped a goal today, didn't miss a game in his Wales career: 53 consecutive caps was a world record at the time. So was Phil Bennett's total of 210 points, including 44 for the Lions. He scored two tries against France and converted one of them. When Edwards threw a rare bad pass, Steve Fenwick picked it up and dropped a goal to make the game safe. It was the last time Wales won the Slam until March 19, 27 years later.

1978
The World Cup skiing season ended today. Sweden's Ingemar Stenmark won the overall title for the third year in a row. The women's went to Hanni Wenzel of Liechtenstein.

Stenmark was crowned on his birthday: he was born in Lapland on the same day in 1956. Quiet to the point of being withdrawn, this was the greatest slalom skier of all time. He was overall World Cup champion when he was only 19, but at the 1976 Winter Olympics he finished only third in the giant slalom and crashed out of the slalom. After that: success upon success. In the World Cup, he was champion at the slalom and giant slalom eight times each, and would have won the overall title more than three times if they hadn't changed the rules. He won 86 races in all, far and away the World Cup record. He won all ten giant slaloms in 1978-79 and 16 out of 17 slaloms in two consecutive seasons. He won both events at the 1980 Olympics, the second on February 22, and would have won them again in 1984 if he hadn't been ludicrously declared a professional when just about everyone else was. He won both events at the World Championships in 1978 and retained the slalom title in 1982. If ever a man let his performances speak for him...

1912
Miklós Szabados was born in Budapest. When he was only 16, he reached the final of the singles at the World Championships in table tennis, losing to Britain's Fred Perry (yes, that one) on January 21, 1929. Szabados helped Hungary win the team title that year and five times in all. In 1931 he reached the singles final again, and won his only individual world title, beating his famous team mate Victor Barna in three easy sets. Barna had his revenge the following year and again in 1935, each time winning a close fifth game after trailing 2-1. Together they were almost unbeatable in doubles, winning the world title six times, including four in a row. Szabados also won the mixed three times with the prolific Mária Mednyánszky. He was twice singles champion at the prestigious English Open. Like Barna, he used a backhand flick even on the forehand wing, a strange tactic that wouldn't work today.

1922
Leo Price was picked for England at rugby union and hockey on the same day. He picked the 11-5 win over Scotland at Twickenham. He'd played hockey against Ireland the previous weekend. One of England's props against Scotland was the one and only Peveril Barton Reiby Wallop William-Powlett. This was his last cap. Too long to write on a teamsheet.

2000
When Wladimir Klitschko won the Olympic super-heavyweight gold medal at the 1996 Olympics, his opponent in the final was Paea Wolfgramm, a 22-stone Tongan who would have given him a tougher fight if he hadn't broken his wrist in the semi-final. Even with his disadvantage, he lost only on points. It was Tonga's first Olympic medal in any sport. Four years later, the two met again, this time as professionals. Wolfgramm had lost only once before this, while knocking out ten opponents in the first round. This fight ended in the first too, but it was the Tongan who made a big dent in the canvas. Coming in at a mere 20½ stone, he wobbled in front of Klitschko's jab for 90 seconds before a series of hooks put him out for the count. He retired after two more defeats the following year. By the end of 2000, Klitschko was WBO champion.

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