June 17 down the years
South Africa triumph over France and the elements

The Rugby World Cup semi-final between South Africa and France was delayed by an hour due to heavy rain and violent storms. South Africa eventually scraped home 19-15 withstanding a strong French effort near the end of the game. Had the match not been played the hosts would have gone out of their own tournament due to their inferior disciplinary record in the competition. The Springboks' try came from Ruben Kruger and it proved to be the difference between the two sides. "With lightning flashing out across the Indian Ocean, thunder echoing round the bay and one end of the ground looking more like a lake than a rugby pitch, there seemed to be no chance of the game starting at all," wrote Mick Cleary in the Guardian. "[Derek] Bevan (the referee) apparently was concerned mostly about the dangers posed if a scrum should collapse in a large pool of water. As a gaggle of officials stood in the middle of the pitch, fingers crossed behind their backs and water squelching over their shoes, they hit upon the high-tech way to get the match under way. No expense was spared by the organisers of a tournament expected to return a profit of £20 million. They gave the signal and five old dears with scarves around their heads ambled on to the pitch with brooms and began gently sweeping the way to the touchline. It was rich entertainment on a miserably sodden day."

Less than three years after their World Cup triumph, England were thumped 43-18 by Australia in Melbourne. For the first time since 1984 England had lost five matches in a row and coach Andy Robinson was left to rue leaving 18 first-choice players at home with a view to resting them ahead of the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

The surplus Lions went down 14-12 to the Brumbies but while coach Warren Gatland was far from upset with the result he was less than impressed with the performance which was described as a "pallid performance". It was the first Lions loss against a provincial side on tour since 1997.

Serge Blanco was on fire running in two tries from full-back for France in their narrow 25-17 defeat by New Zealand in Christchurch.

The Lions dirt-trackers were in imperious form beating the Emerging Springboks 51-22 in Wellington, South Africa. Nick Beal scored a hat-trick of tries with Mike Catt, Graham Rowntree and Tim Stimpson scoring one apiece.

More than 10,000 spectators celebrated as Fiji beat Italy 29-18 in Lautoka, while Scotland were left fuming after going down 29-15 to South Africa after the referee disallowed a try which would have given them the lead, citing a knock-on which had happened almost a minute earlier. From the resulting scrum South Africa scored.

Former Wales cap, Jim Shanklin, flew out to Tokyo at short notice to see son Tom mark his Wales Test debut by scoring two tries in a 53-30 win against Japan. Wales were 20-19 down at the break but three tries in as many minutes and eight in all gave them the series 2-0.

James Hook, having appeared as a substitute the week before, made his first start in a Test for Wales, kicking ten points in a 45-27 defeat by Argentina in Buenos Aires.

Karl Mullen's Lions, in their 12th tour match in New Zealand, kept a clean sheet for the first time, beating Hawke's Bay 20-0 at Napier.

© Scrum.com

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