February 3 down the years
Italy record famous win over France
Italy celebrate downing France in Rome © Getty Images

Italy kick-started their 2013 Six Nations campaign with a stunning 23-18 victory over title favourites France at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni scored the decisive try of a thrilling encounter that saw Les Bleus' Grand Slam hopes destroyed on the opening weekend. Skipper Sergio Parisse also touched down, but Italy fly-half Luciano Orquera ran the show majestically, kicking a drop-goal, two conversions and a penalty before his replacement Kris Burton's late drop-goal saw the Azzurri beat France for a second successive Six Nations occasion on home soil.

Jonny Wilkinson returned to play his first Test for England since the 2003 World Cup final and scored 27 points to set up a fine 42-20 win over Scotland at Twickenham. Wilkinson had missed 30 England Tests due to a run of serious injuries, playing three times for the Lions in 2005 to briefly break his injury nightmare. His try should have been disallowed for a foot in touch, but Wilkinson's overall form was strong as England entered a World Cup year. Jason Robinson also scored two tries for England on his return to the side after retiring in 2005.

Will Greenwood's hat-trick of tries set England up for a 44-15 win against Wales at Cardiff on the opening Saturday of the Six Nations tournament. Greenwood, a constant thorn in the side of Wales, was joined on the scoresheet by Matt Dawson, with a brace, and Ben Cohen. The tournament was won by the English, who missed out on a Grand Slam in the final game against Ireland, delayed until October due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

The Daily Mirror broke a story that the RFU was looking at establishing leagues to counter a dismal decade of Five Nations results for England which had seen them win 12 out of 46 matches. At the time England were the only participant without a league structure. Ireland skipper Willie John McBride said: ""In Ireland we have competitions at school, club and provincial grades. They make players used to pressure which is what international rugby is all about." The provisional structure under consideration was based on four regions with the following clubs. North - Gosforth. Headingley, Morley, Roundhay, Wakefield; Midlands - Bedford, Coventry, Leicester. Moseley, Nottingham; South - London Welsh, Richmond, Rosslyn Park, Saracens, Wasps; West - Bath, Bristol, Gloucester, Penryn, Plymouth Albion. The RFU confirmed this structure almost two years later.

The chairman of the Sports Council called on the administrators of rugby union and the amateur arm of rugby league "to end the nonsense" of players not being allowed to play both codes. "I feel strongly about this," he said. "It's gone on long enough and is not in the best interests of sport." As ever, the blazers thought otherwise.

In response to increasing violence the International Board announced rule changes including the ability for referees to award penalty tries for foul play preventing a try. They also tweaked the knock-on rule so that players would no longer be penalised if they knocked-on but regained control before the ball touched the ground.

Rory Underwood scored his 50th Test try (49 for England and one for the Lions) in a 21-15 defeat of Wales at Twickenham. It also proved to be his final score in a white shirt, the flying wing playing only two more Tests.

Ireland launched their first Triple Crown season with a narrow 7-5 win against England at Blackheath's Rectory Field. Forward John Lytle scored Ireland's only try, with captain Edmund Forrest slotting a drop-goal.

Scotland missed a certain try at Cardiff when a kick over the Welsh goal-line was deflected out of play by the Chief Constable of Police who happened to be parading in the Welsh in-goal area. Wales went on to score three tries of their own and win 9-3

On a Sunday sight-seeing trip to the Forth Bridge, Welsh players were told to take a good look because they would not be seeing it again at the expense of the WRU. They had lost 35-10 to Scotland the day before.

More than 15,000 Welshmen made the journey north to populate Murrayfield's giant terraces for the Championship game against Scotland. All told more than 60,000 spectators gathered to see a young and inexperienced Welsh XV triumph 13-6 thanks to two tries from wing Bun Cowey.

No.8 Peter Kininmonth dropped a towering goal to set up a 19-0 win for Scotland against Wales at Murrayfield. Wing Robert Gordon scored two tries for the home side.

A row between the RFU and England's players became public after Mike Pearey, the RFU president, spent the weekend with the squad and admitted: "It will be a long time before we see eye to eye." Some ultra-conservative committee members called for Will carling, the captain, Geoff Cooke, the manager, and Roger Utley, the coach, the be sacked for daring to raise the issue of how they might be better rewarded.

© Scrum.com

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