March 8 down the years
Price's perfect punch slammed for being 'bad manners'
Noel Murphy of Ireland is felled by Wales captain Brian Price, Ireland v Wales, Cardiff, March 8, 1969
Noel Murphy is laid out by Brian Price ... but Price escaped with a ticking off © Colorsport

Noel Murphy of Ireland was felled by Wales captain Brian Price with perhaps the most famous punch in Five Nations history - and he wasn't even sent off, escaping with a stiff reprimand from referee Doug McMahon. "It was a deplorable act of ruffianism," fumed the Times , adding, rather bizarrely that "it was the depth of bad manners". Price later explained that he struck because "his [Murphy's] fingers were in my eyes … in that situation you don't muck about". Wales ran out easy winners by 24-11.

Jonny Wilkinson became the most prolific points scorer in Test history. His three penalties in England's 15-9 defeat at Murrayfield took him to 1,099 in all Tests - nine more than Neil Jenkins's total. England's coach Brian Ashton was unimpressed, dropping Wilkinson for only the second time in his international career.

Bev Risman, the 23-year-old England and Lions fly-half, followed his distinguished father, Gus, into Rugby League, signing for Leigh and so ending his union career. The fee, reported to be £6,000, equalled the record paid by Leeds RL for Lewis Jones in 1952. Risman went on to captain Great Britain.

Seventeen-year-old Frank Hewitt, the youngest man to play for Ireland, helped them to a 13-10 win at Cardiff in front of two future kings - the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII) and Duke of York (later King George VI) - and the first Labour prime minister, Ramsey MacDonald. It was a great family day as Hewitt's older brother, Tom, was also making his debut and the pair of them scored Ireland's tries.

Wales, spearheaded by Cliff Morgan, won the Triple Crown for the ninth time with a 14-3 defeat of Ireland in Dublin. It was their first game there since 1927 (matches in the intervening period had taken place in Belfast) and their first win at Lansdowne Road since 1910. A fortnight later Wales beat France to complete the Grand Slam.

Wales skipper Terry Holmes was sent off during the Pontypool-Cardiff match but for his own safety rather than any misdemeanour. Holmes was bleeding from a first-half clash of heads and refused to go off. At the start of the second-half referee Derek Bevan said he would not resume the game until Holmes left the field, which he reluctantly did. "He seemed dazed and had refused to go with the trainer," Bevan said. "Luckily he was not found to be concussed." Unluckily he had perforated an eardrum.

Ireland remained on course for a Grand Slam showdown with England at the end of the season. A 15-12 win against France in a tense match in Dublin revealed new depths of resolve and owed much to the brilliant display of fullback Geordan Murphy, whose dropped goal was the difference between the teams at no-side.

Lansdowne Road made the Ireland-Wales Triple Crown match an all-ticket affair and 12,000 spectators saw Wales win 15-0, all the points coming after the break.

Newport won back-to-back South Wales Cup competitions, defeating Cardiff in the Final at Sophia Gardens.


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