November 16 down the years
Jonny Wilkinson kicks the French to World Cup defeat
Like clockwork ... Jonny Wilkinson slots another kick to sink the French © Getty Images

Jonny Wilkinson was again the star of the show as England progressed to the rugby World Cup final with a gritty 24-7 victory over France in Sydney. In a game played in atrocious weather conditions, the fly-half accounted for all of his country's points, landing five penalties and three drop goals. "The weather was utterly filthy and the rugby was downright ugly," wrote Frank Malley in the Evening Mail. "But who cares?" There was more misery for the French when flanker Serge Betsen was handed a six-week suspension yesterday for kicking England scrum-half Matt Dawson.

Almost eight years after leading England to glory, Martin Johnson stepped down as team manager after a wretched World Cup campaign both on and off the field. Johnson, who had been in charge since April 2008, quit on the eve of the publication of damning reports on the World Cup. "I didn't come to this decision lightly but I think it's in the best interests of the team and myself that I don't continue," he said. If he did the honourable thing then others did not. It emerged the RFU had been secretly sounding out replacements before Johnson made his decision, while Rob Andrew, who should have shouldered much of the blame as well, resisted savage media attacks to cling on to his position.

Bob Scott was the oldest living All Black when he died in November. Regarded as the "complete fullback", according to NZRU chairman Mike Eagle, Wellington-born Scott made his debut for the All Blacks against Australia in Dunedin in 1946 at the age of 25 and went on to wear the black jersey in 52 matches including 17 Tests. He retired in 1954 after playing his last Test against France in Paris.

Wales defeated Tonga 46-12 in atrocious weather conditions at St Helen's in a game which was most notable for the fact that it was the first played at the Swansea venue in 43 years. Gareth Thomas grabbed two tries for the hosts with Chris Anthony, Leigh Davies, Nigel Walker and Gareth Wyatt also getting on the scoresheet.

All Blacks scrum-half Chris Laidlaw celebrated his 24th birthday by being awarded a two-year Rhodes Scholarship at Oxford University. Laidlaw, who won 20 caps for New Zealand between 1964 and 1970, did not take up the offer until 1969 when he began his studies at Merton College. Laidlaw, who also captained the All Blacks against Australia in 1968, was one of the first New Zealanders to play extensively overseas and captained Oxford to a win over the 1969-70 Springboks in Britain and also spent a period in France.

London Counties inflicted a first ever defeat upon South African on English soil, beating the Springboks 10-8 in a gripping encounter at Twickenham.

A war-time county clash between Lancashire and Yorkshire in aid of the Red Cross attracted a crowd of 4,000 to Bradford. Lancashire recorded a 22-10 victory over their rivals.

A year on from the end of World War II, Blackheath revived their annual club dinner. The event was staged at the Cafe Royal in Regent Street and chaired by former Springbok 'Birdy' Partridge, who captained the club during the 1907-1908 season.

London claimed a 6-3 win over Paris at the Parc des Princes to level the series between the two cities at eight victories apiece, with one draw.


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