December 26 down the years
Boxing Day success for Wales
Wales Billy Trew poses for a team photo, Paris, France, February 28, 1911.
Wales' Billy Trew was a key figure in Swansea's victory over South Africa on this day back in 1912 © Getty Images

A solitary try from forward D J Thomas was enough to earn Swansea a famous victory over South Africa at St Helen's. In front of a crowd of 35,000 and in atrocious playing conditions following torrential rain, Swansea's inspirational captain W J "Billy" Trew mastermided victory with astute tactical innovations such as withdrawing two men from the pack to be additional defenders against the Springboks' challenge. This was despite playing 20 minutes of the match with only 14 men after the loss of winger Howel Lewis due to injury. The South Wales Daily Post summed it the game saying: "It is really a great accomplishment when it is realised that the Swanseaites are a team of working men, who were opposed to the pick of South Africa: a team whose grand physique and exceptional speed have made them one of the most powerful combinations which has ever toured this country."

The newspapers trumpeted that Wales had beaten the All Blacks but more accurately 40,000 saw them beat a New Zealand Trench XV by a try to nil at Swansea. Such was the excitement when Wales scored that the crowd spilled over the fencing onto the pitch and it was more than quarter of an hour before order could be restored and the conversion attempted. Unsurprisingly, it was missed.

Wales centre Gavin Henson ended a 20-month exile from the sport with a comeback off the bench in Saracens' 13-6 Premiership win over Wasps at Wembley. The former British & Irish Lion had not played since March 2009 following a string of injury and personal problems and had recently completed a spell on reality TV show Strictly Come Dancing. He very nearly capped his return with a try but was held up over the line by Wasps scrum-half Joe Simpson.

The All Blacks beat Cardiff 10-8 in an absorbing encounter in the Welsh capital. It was an agonising defeat for the hosts, who were left ruing a horrendously timed slip by skipper Percy Bush in the lead up to New Zealand's game-clinching try. Bush, who had picked up the nickname 'Will o' the Wisp' on the British Isles on their tour to Australia and New Zealand the year before, could take some consolation in the fact that just 10 days previously he had played his part in Wales' 3-0 victory over the All Blacks.

Edinburgh thrashed Glasgow 39-6 at Murrayfield in the first game of a double-bill to decide the fate of the 1862 Cup, commemorating one of the oldest fixtures in world rugby. Scotland skipper Mike Blair led the way with a crucial first-half try and was joined on the scoresheet by centre Ben Cairns, fullback Hugo Southwell and wing Simon Webster. The winner of the1872 Cup is the team with the highest aggregate points score over the back-to-back fixtures.

Cardiff came out on the wrong end of a 3-0 scoreline in their clash with the New Zealand Army side. It was the Welsh side's first defeat of the season but the result did not dampen the enthusiasm of the home fans, who had turned out in force to support their side in the still damaged Cardiff Arms Park. In 1941 the recently-built North Stand and part of the west terracing had been bombed during by the Luftwaffe during the Second World War.

The touring Maori defeated Newport at Rodney Parade, running in three tries in the process. The home side's cause was not helped by the absence of star player Arthur Gould.

Unusual interest in an 18-yaer-old making his first-team debut for West Hartlepool, but given he was Liam Botham, son of Ian, that could be expected. Also on Hampshire's books as a cricketer, Liam's future lay more in rugby, with future moves to Cardiff and Newcastle before he finished playing rugby league.

Harlequins defeated Richmond 10-0 at Twickenham in a game arranged to commemorate the first ever played at the ground. The two sides had opened the stadium 50 years previously and 14 survivors from that game were in attendance.


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