January 23 down the years
Leicester undone by the mystery 16th man
Lee Byrne receives treatment before going off ... but it was his coming back on which caused the problems © Getty Images
Leicester were left fuming after their 17-12 Heineken Cup defeat by the Ospreys because the Welsh side fielded 16 men for a short period. Lee Byrne went off with a blood injury but returned to the pitch without his replacement, Sonny Parker, leaving. Crucially, while he was illegally on Parker made a key tackle to break down an attack. On the same day England's Danny Grewcock was sent off for stamping during Bath's 28-10 loss to Ulster.
The increasing profile of rugby was highlighted when England captain Will Carling was the subject of a Noel Edmonds "Gotcha" on BBC TV's Noel's House Party. In front of an audience of 15 million, Carling tried to teach the pink, yellow-spotted, sausage shaped creature Mr Blobby rugby, getting more and more frustrated as he did so. "I was pretty bored so I kicked him up the arse," Carling told ESPN, "and when I trod on his foot I obviously hurt him as I heard him squeal. I still thought it was this other guy and I think they cut bits out as he wouldn't fool around for a bit after that. I told him to get a fucking life. I'm not the most patient guy and it took much longer than I thought. The language wasn't great, though." Click here for the full clip
Ireland began their first successful Triple Crown campaign for 34 years a week late, with their match with Wales having been postponed seven days earlier owing to heavy snow. Ollie Campbell fired the Irish to a 20-12 win, kicking three goals in Dublin after wing Moss Finn had raced in for two tries.
France registered their second victory of the Championship season, beating Ireland 8-0 in Paris. It was their first win at home against the Irish since 1931, with centre Maurice Prat scoring both of the French tries in the second half. Gate receipts of £14,000 were a record for a match in France.
The financial realities of professionalism hit home as Saracens announced pay cuts to try to tackle a £1 million loss. Top players were asked to take a 10% cut, lower-paid ones (defined as under £45,000pa) 5%. ""As a shareholder in the game I am very concerned," club owner Nigel Wray said. "We cannot keep pumping in money indefinitely."
A bad week for Welsh rugby. Two days after Warren Jenkins switched codes and joined Swinton for £3000, 20-year-old Cardiff fullback Ron Hill did the same, signing for Castleford for £2000.
Mick Doyle celebrated his Test debut by scoring Ireland's try in a 3-3 draw against France at Lansdowne Road. For once it was the French who were rattled by physicality as Ireland took no prisoners. Referee Gwynne Walters gave 21 penalties and twice had to bring the captains together for no-nonsense warnings.
The New Zealand Native side beat Spen Valley District 8-7 at Cleckheaton. The District side was "Yorkshire", the champion English county, in all but name.