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Historical Rugby Milestones 1980s

Carl Mullen signs rugby ball for small boy


Bill Beaumont leads England to its first Grand Slam for 23 years (1957).


Sir Hector Munro, Minister for Sport, (a former President of the Scottish RFU) officially opens the new South Stand at Twickenham - containing a banqueting suite called the 'Rose Room' with seating for 400 people.

Anti-Apartheid demonstrations lead to the disruption of the South African tour of New Zealand. Games are cancelled and, in the final Test, a plane drops flour bombs and pamphlets onto the pitch while the game is in progress.


Erica Rowe famously bares her 40" chest during England vs. Australia at Twickenham in January 1982.

  Erica Rowe
Erica Rowe

March 9th - Against a background of worldwide boycotts of the apartheid regime, a 42-man South American side, led by Hugo Porta and containing 31 Argentines, landed in South Africa for a short tour.

First women’s international match between France and the Netherlands in Utrecht.


Women Rugby Football Union (WRFU) formed. The WRFU was responsible for rugby in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. When the WRFU was formed there were 12 founder teams as members in the first year. These teams included: Leicester Polytechnic, Sheffield University, UCL, University of Keele, Warwick University, Imperial College, Leeds University, Magor Maidens, York University and Loughborough University.

In 1994 each country established its own governing body.


The 1984 Wallabies became the first Australian team to win the Grand Slam in the 76 years since the first tour to the UK and Ireland.

  • The Wallabies scored 100 points in the four Tests, which was the highest number of points scored by any team touring the UK and Ireland.
  • The 12 tries scored in the four Tests was the most scored by any touring team in Tests.
  • The third Test win against Wales was the first time Australia had won three Tests in succession on a tour of the UK and Ireland.
  • The 28-9 win over Wales was the most points scored against Wales by a touring team at Cardiff Arms Park.
  • The 28-9 win over Wales was Australia's biggest winning margin against them.
  • The match against Wales included a first ever pushover try on their home ground of Cardiff Arms Park.
  • The 37-12 win over Scotland was the highest Australian score over an IRB country.
  • Mark Ella scored a try in each of the four Tests (and in every game), a feat never before achieved by a player in a touring team. Michael Lynagh scored 42 points in the four Test series, which was more points than any other Australian in a Test series.
  • Michael Lynagh scored 21 points against Scotland to equal Paul McLean's record of 21 points in a Test.


The Australian Rugby Union, with the support of New Zealand, France and South Africa, had pressed for a World Cup. The ARU felt threatened by the proposed professional rugby union circuit of Australian entrepreneur David Lord.

The British and Irish unions were opposed to the idea of a World Cup, so South Africa held the deciding vote. South Africa, aware it would be unable to play because of the international sports boycott, voted in favor of the World Cup at a meeting of the International Rugby Board in 1985.


Centenary meeting of the IRB. Representatives from 76 countries in attendance.

New Zealand ‘Cavaliers’ travel for an illegal and unofficial tour of South Africa. This leads to the players having a ban imposed on them by the NZRFU when they return home. Allegations that they had received payment for playing are never proven.

Canada becomes a member of the IRFB.

First women’s international for Great Britain against France at Richmond Athletic Park.

Liverpool were formed in 1857 but merged with St. Helens Rugby Club (founded 1919) in 1986 to form Liverpool St .Helens.

March 1st - Leicester No. 8 Dean Richards marked his Test debut with two tries in England's 25-20 defeat of Ireland, the reigning Five Nations champions. His partnership with two other 17-stoners, Maurice Colclough and Wade Dooley, bulldozed the Irish scrum into submission. Richards, who became the first Englishman since 1929 to score a brace of tries on debut, could have had a third had a deliberate offside by the Irish, which led to a penalty try, not deprived him. "Once the roll was on Richards controlled the ball so adroitly that it seemed it must be attached to his boots by an invisible cord," noted the Guardian.

19th April - Representative Five Nations team plays abd Overseas Unions team to commemorate the centenary of the Internation Rugby Football Union (IRFU). At the time, there were only eight Unions affiliated to the Board, thus only players from those unions were chosen.

Five Nations: Blanco ( France); Ringland ( Ireland), Sella ( France), M. Kiernan ( Ireland), R. Underwood ( England); M. Dacey ( Wales), R. J. Hill ( England); Whitefoot ( Wales), S. Brain ( England), I. Milne ( Scotland), Condom ( France), Lenihan ( Ireland) (captain), J. Jeffrey ( Scotland), Paxton ( Scotland), L. Rodriguez ( France)

Overseas Unions: R. Gould ( Australia); Kirwan ( New Zealand), D. Gerber ( South Africa), W. Taylor ( New Zealand), C. du Plessis ( South Africa); N. Botha ( South Africa), Loveridge ( New Zealand); E. Rodríguez ( Australia), A. Dalton ( New Zealand) (captain), G. Knight ( New Zealand) (F. van der Merwe ( South Africa) had been named in starting lineup in programme), S. Cutler ( Australia), Haden ( New Zealand), Poidevin ( Australia), Tuynman ( Australia), M. Shaw ( New Zealand)

Five Nations XV 13 – 32 Overseas Unions Twickenham Stadium, London
Referee: D I H Burnett (Ireland)
Try: Ringland (2)

Con: Blanco
Penalty Goal: Kiernan
Try: Gerber (2)
du Plessis
Con: Botha
Penalty Goal: Botha (2)




The first Rugby World Cup - Australia and New Zealand.

But it showed in stark focus the widening gulf between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres which would soon herald the end of the amateur game. The winner, New Zealand, was awarded the Webb Ellis Cup for the first time.

Argentina, Fiji, Italy, Japan, Romania, Tonga, USA and Zimbabwe become members of the IRFB.

First women’s international matches for England and Wales.

The USA National Women’s Team was founded in 1987.

Courage League began for the 1987/88 season.  12 clubs played each other in just one League fixture per year, with no set date for fixtures: Bath, Bristol, Coventry, Gloucester, Harlequins, Leicester, Moseley, Nottingham, Orrell, Sale, Wasps, Waterloo
Relegation and Promotion: Two clubs up, two down.
Relegated: Coventry and Sale
Promoted: Rosslyn Park and Liverpool St Helens
Champions: Leicester


Women invited to an RFU reception for the first time (November 5th Dinner for Australia RU Team)


Click to browse dinner invite
(5Mb pdf)
(Provided by John Devonport)

At the England v. Ireland match at Twickenham in 1988 when Chris Oti, England's black winger making his Twickenham debut, scored three tries. Some of the crowd started singing 'Swing Low' to celebrate. From then on the Twickenham crowd sang the song whenever a try was scored.

Demolition of the old North Stand at Twickenham.

Romania beat Wales at the Arms Park 9 - 15.

Cote d’Ivoire, Spain and Samoa become members of the IRFB.

March 5th - It was not only Scottish pride that was dented after they lost 9-6 to England at Murrayfield, the almost priceless Calcutta Cup itself came in for some rough treatment as Scotland's John Jeffrey and England's Dean Richards (a policeman in the real world) kicked the 110-year-old trophy down Edinburgh's Princes Street. The outrage could not have been more had it been the Queen Mother instead of the cup, with some calling for life bans. As it was, Jeffrey was banned for six months and Richards for one match. "When we took it away it wasn't damaged and when we brought it back it was," a groggy Jeffrey admitted. "I have to say we were responsible."

Damage to Calcutta cup


Ian McGeechan's Lions win 2 - 1 in Australia.

Will Carling's England team gave notice of their rising stock with a clinical 11-0 victory over France at Twickenham, their first home win against the French for a decade. Andy Robinson, who went on to become England coach, scored the only try of the match and his only one in an international. It was the first of seven successive wins for England over the French.

Uruguay becomes a member of the IRFB.




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