May 8 down the years
Union left humbled by Martin Offiah
Martin Offiah runs in one of his six tries as league trounced union on this day in 1996 © Getty Images

History was made at Maine Road, the home of Manchester City, when rugby union giants Bath took on their rugby league counterparts, Wigan, in a game played under league rules. It wasn't quite the first time the two codes had mixed, as there had been a couple of similar meetings in the war. Bath's preparations featured a match against South Wales Reserves (they lost) but in front of 20,148 they were utterly humiliated 82-6, with Martin Offiah running in six tries. Writing in the Manchester Evening News, Alex Murphy said it was "as if 101 years of cross-code antagonism were being requited over 80 minutes". The two teams met again - this time under union rules - at Twickenham a fortnight later, and Bath gained revenge with a 44-19 win.

A late drop goal by No. 8 Emyr Lewis - the first one he had ever attempted - enabled Llanelli to pip Neath 21-18 in the WRU Cup final. But it led to a bitter post-match row as the score came directly from a free kick, and the rules had just been changed to prevent just that being done. "I may well have made a major mistake," admitted referee Gareth Simmons. "If so, then it will live with me for a long, long time. The law is quite clear."

The All Blacks' preparations for the Lions series were thrown into confusion when lock Pole Whiting quit the game on the eve of the tour. A huge line-out specialist who had won 20 caps since his debut six years earlier, he explained that his carpet-cleaning job made it very hard for him to be consistently available.

Rotherham wound up their Allied Dunbar Division Two season with a 27-0 defeat of Moseley that preserved their 100% home record and put them through to a play-off with Bedford for promotion to the Premiership. They lost 27-19.

Loughborough Colleges beat Harlequins 21-20 in the final of the Middlesex Sevens. The outcome came down to the last kick of the tournament, but the touchline conversion drifted a foot wide

Danny Cipriani's last game before heading to Australia to join Melbourne Reds ended after 23 minutes when he walked off with a suspected broken thumb.

Perpignan won the French Championship for the fourth time. The stand-out player in their 11-6 defeat of Biarritz in the final was 17½-year-old centre Noël Brazès who scored two of their tries.

The popular Fijian team opened their tour of Australia in Sydney, scoring five spectacular tries in a 24-11 victory over South Harbour.


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