March 7 down the years
The battle of Cardiff

One of rugby's most hyped matches lived up to its billing and there were no prisoners tqaken on either side. Without a win in Cardiff since 1963, England adopted a more physical approach for their visit to the Welsh capital. It didn't work as they lost 19-12, but the match will be remembered for all the wrong reasons. Wade Dooley, a policeman in his day job, sent Welsh No.8 Phil Davies flying with a punch, while referee Ray Megson had his hands full keeping tempers in check. Gareth Chilcott, Graham Dawe and Dooley were warned by Megson and the RFU subsequently dropped all three, plus skipper Richard Hill, for the next game.

J P Clowes, who had been invited to take part in the British team's tour of Australia and New Zealand, found himself outlawed as a professional by the RFU who claimed he had accepted £15 to kit himself out for the visit. He was allowed to travel with the team, but was banned from playing in any of the 53 matches or 18 games of Australian Rules football.

2004A bad Sunday in Cardiff for Wales who were well beaten by France despite the seemingly close 29-22 scoreline. The Daily Express was in no mood to mince words about what happened inside the ground. "There was an awful predictability about the Welsh tendency to errors that were often as facile as the ghastly canned music the Welsh Rugby Union now see fit to inflict even when play is in progress. It is patronising, discourteous and intrusive, just like the Millennium Stadium announcer using his privileged position to exhort the crowd to greater volume. Frankly, he was a disgrace. Some of the Welsh decision-making was equally dubious."

Jean-Pierre Rives led his side to a 19-15 victory over Wales in Paris in the third leg of a French Grand Slam season, but they left it late, needing three scores in the final quarter of an hour to squeeze home. The Daily Mail said it was a "niggly bad-tempered and often violent match which produced two general warnings from referee Alan Welsby but nothing else in the way of firm control".

England were not at their best as they beat Wales 24-0 to secure their first back-to-back Grand Slams since 1924, but tries from Will Carling, Mickey Skinner and Wade Dooley did the business. Jonathan Webb kicked 12 points, taking his tally to a record 67 for the season's Five Nations, while it was Carling's record-equalling 22nd win as captain.

With Cardiff's National Stadium demolished and the Millennium Stadium under construction, Wales played a home match at that hotbed of Welsh rugby, Wembley Stadium in north London. Their opponents Scotland had a slight advantage in that they had already played there - in a wartime international in 1942. It didn't help them this time as Wales won 19-13 in front of a sell-out crowd of 75,000.

The New Zealand Native team, tired after a long rail journey, lost 3-0 to Barrow & District. It was the last time the tourists tasted defeat on tour, going on to win nine and draw one of their last ten games in England.

The Highlanders and the Crusaders produced the lowest combined score in Super Rugby since its inception in 1996. Two penalties from Daniel Bowden were enough for a 6-0 victory for the Highlanders over the defending Super 14 champions at Carisbrook.


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