March 25 down the years
King John bids farewell
Barry John (third from left, front row) prepares for his final outing for Wales in 1972 © Getty Images
The King of Wales abdicates his throne. The legendary No. 10, Barry John, was only 27 and at the absolute peak of his powers when he decided to walk away from what he described as the "goldfish bowl" of Welsh rugby, after amassing 120 points in 30 Tests (five for the Lions) from 1966. Twelve of those points, in the form of four penalties, came in his final international appearance, against France in Cardiff. A 20-6 victory handed Wales their third win out of three in the Championship, but the escalating political situation in Ireland meant that their bid for the Grand Slam was thwarted.
The end of a long wait for Wales as they sealed their first Grand Slam for 39 years. The Championship had already been sewn up with a round of matches still to come, with no other team managing more than a solitary victory until Scotland's win over England in the penultimate week. France were the visitors for the final game of the tournament, and winger Ken Jones scored two of Wales' four tries in a thumping 21-0 victory at Cardiff. It was the fourth Grand Slam in Wales' history, but they had a much shorter wait for the next one - two years in fact.
France edged out Wales 8-6 in Paris in a game which the Welsh claimed afterwards sent a warning signal to the home unions. At the post-match banquet, WRU president Fred Phillips said: "You Frenchmen have made history during the last 10 years. Unless we in the Home Countries look out we, will find ourselves way behind. You have taken the place in world rugby that we Welshmen held during our golden age from 1900 to 1905." Wales captain Lloyd Williams agreed. " It's high time we learned to play the French at their own game." he said. "France have won the
championship twice and shared it once in the past three years because they play the sort of football the Home Unions won't bother to learn."
Newspapers carried the story that England would share a £1 million player bonus - around £40,000 each - if they won the World Cup scheduled for later in the year. With other match bonuses that meant they could have earned £100,000 each had they gone all the way. Players' Union spokesman Damian Hopley said: "From a player's point of view I don't think it means anything. It is great to have but if they were getting £1 for the game they would be just as happy to win." Ain the event, England failed to reach the final.
A rare scoring feat was achieved. During the Barbarians' traditional Good Friday fixture in their spiritual home of Penarth, they secured a 10-10 draw thanks to a penalty goal, a dropped goal (worth four points then) and a rare goal from a mark. The latter score, worth three points until a rule-change rendered it obsolete in 1977, was achieved when a player claimed a legitimate catch anywhere in the field and called "mark". A place, drop, or tap-kick then ensued.
Newport's Rodney Parade bade farewell to Test rugby. The venue hosted six matches from 1884 to 1912, with Wales winning four and losing two. The ground signed off on a high, however, as France were defeated 14-8 in a Monday-afternoon match that marked their 13th successive home Test victory.
Wales' boy-wonder, Keith Jarrett, out of favour with the selectors, notches up his 182nd point of the season for Newport, steering them to an 8-6 home win against Gloucester with a try and a conversion. Jarrett became an overnight sensation in 1967, when, aged 18, he scored one of Wales' greatest tries of all time on debut against England, in addition to two penalties and five conversations. He ended up playing just 10 Tests in all, before a stroke in 1973 cruelly ended his career at the age of 25.