May 15 down the years
'An utterly disgraceful young man'
Willie John McBride contests a line-out against South Africa in 1974
Willie John McBride led the unbeaten 1974 Lions tour of South Africa © Getty Images

No love lost in the Valleys as WRU boss David East laid into Jonathan Griffiths after the 24-year-old scrum-half failed to turn up to a pre-tour meeting ahead of the squad leaving for Canada and appeared a few hours later at a press conference signing for rugby league side St Helens. "I think it's utterly disgraceful a young man selected for a tour should fail to turn up without a word of warning," Evans said with some justification. "It was highly discourteous."

Robert Mugabe, recently elected as Zimbabwe's president and still feeling his way in the newly independent country, urged the white-dominated Zimbabwe Rugby Board to scrap the match against the Lions scheduled for June 10. He had come under pressure from other African leaders who argued it was wrong for Zimbabwe to host a touring side who were breaching the terms of the Gleneagles Agreement which prohibited sporting contact with apartheid South Africa. As was to become the norm, Mubage got his way and the fixture was replaced with one against Eastern Transvaal.

Willie-John McBride's Lions - the only invincible tourists of modern times - began their unbeaten 22-match tour of South Africa with a 59-13 win against Western Transvaal.

Wasps director of rugby Ian McGeechan was announced as the man to take the 2009 British and Irish Lions to South Africa. McGeechan would take charge for the fourth time having become synonymous with the Lions in an association as player and coach which stretched back through six tours and 34 years.

The Lions, defeated easily by Queensland in their opening tour match, looked to Barry John to take control in their 14-12 win against New South Wales - the second and final game of the Australian leg of their visit.

- Overmach Parma had their two-year ban from European competition suspended after an appeal. The Italian side were initially banned for two years and fined just over £6,000 after they failed to turn up for a rearranged Parker Pen European Shield tie with Pontypridd. Parma were infuriated by European Rugby Cup Ltd's decision to relocate their home clash with Pontypridd to Gloucester's Kingsholm after ice had twice forced the game to be postponed.

Leeds scrum-half Danny Care joined the Headingley exodus by signing a three-year contract with Harlequins. Care, 19, made six appearances for the relegated Tykes that season and was a member of England's sevens squad which won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games.

France beat Romania 11-8 in a tight match in Bucharest. During the thirties France were banned from the Five Nations and sought international opposition from Continental sides such as Germany, Italy and Romania. France had six debutants in the game and the match was played in front of 35 000 fans and won largely thanks to tries from Blond, Caunegre and le Goff.

Castres and Mont-de-Marsan shared the French Championship spoils after their final at Toulouse ends 3-3 after extra time.

Basie Viviers's Springboks began their marathon tour of Australia and New Zealand with a 41-6 win against ACT in Canberra, the skipper contributing 18 points.

Ireland played in New Zealand for the first time. Tom Grace led the tourists to a 19-4 win against South Canterbury in Timaru.


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