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Historical Rugby Milestones 1990s

Carl Mullen signs rugby ball for small boy


March 17th Scotland win the 5 Nations championship, Grand slam, Triple crown as well as the Calcutta cup against England at Murrayfield. Scotland 13, England 7.

Namibian Rugby Union founded. Namibia becomes a member of the IRFB.


The second Rugby World Cup - United Kingdom, Ireland and France.

16 February - The new North Stand at Twickenham, with 14,800 seats, opened by HRH the Princess Royal. The East Stand is demolished after the Rugby World Cup.

The first ever Women’s Rugby World Cup (unofficial) was held in Cardiff, Great Britain in 1991. Twelve countries participated in the Tournament, held over a week. France, New Zealand, USA and England emerged as the semi-finalists, with USA Eagles beating England 19 - 6 in the final at Cardiff Arms Park (April 14th).

March 2nd - Tries by Rory Underwood and Mike Teague brought home England's first Triple Crown for 11 years. Will Carling's team won 16-7 against Ireland in Dublin to set up a winner-take-all Grand Slam showdown with France a fortnight later which they won 21-19. It was a close thing. Ireland took the lead in the 24th minute and held onto it until nine minutes from the end. Simon Hodgkinson's eight points took him past Dusty Hare's record of 44 in a Five Nations campaign.


Va'aiga Tuigamala scores the first official 5 point try as New Zealand lose in Sydney.

Russia played its first international match 6 June 1992, when it beat the Barbarians 27-23.

South Africa plays first international fixture since 1984 after their Apartheid policies are repealed. They lose to New Zealand 27-24.

Georgia becomes a member of the IRFB.


October: New East Stand with 25,000 seats completed at Twickenham.


Second unofficial WRWC hosted by Scotland, England beat USA 38-23, at Raeburn Place, Edinburgh.

The Rugby Football Union for Women (RFUW) was formed in England with each of the Home Nations governing their own countries.

19 March: HM the Queen officially opens the new East Stand at Twickenham (before England v Wales). Summer: demolition of the old West Stand and start of new West Stand.

1995 - The third Rugby World Cup - South Africa.

Until this point the IRB (International Rugby Board, the governing body of rugby union) had been dominated by worthy English gentlemen who adhered implacably to their cherished amateur principles. But as the demands on top players grew, increased media attention, amount of training required etc. increased pressure on the IRB. The Southern Hemisphere unions in particular, pressurized the IRB to allow player payments.

Along with this was an ever-increasing degree of sham-amateurism. While straight payments may not have been openly accepted, it was obvious that top players in some countries received various benefits and perks from playing the game e.g. through player trust funds, through direct under-the-table cash payments or other roundabout methods.

The IRB finally capitulated to the inevitable and in August 1995 rugby union became fully professional.

The transition was fairly painless in the Southern hemisphere where the Unions maintained most of the control, but in the North, Money men like Sir John Hall, Nigel Wray and Ashley Levett entered the game at Newcastle, Saracens and Richmond, respectively. The latter lasted just four years before deciding there was no money to be made and nearly killed the club in the process.

A few days ago he (Levett) abruptly withdrew his support, forcing Richmond into a series of crisis meetings and eventually into administration…which is another way of describing a lifeline for those thrown in at the deep end. If the application is granted it will give Richmond some time to mount a rescue operation. Levett, who held 80 per cent of the non-redeemable shares, had cut the purse strings with immediate effect. - Tim Glover The Independent

But if the club game was thrown into turmoil, the international scene was no less bloody. England struck a deal with Sky TV for broadcasting rights of their home games and were promptly thrown out of the Five Nations before being reinstated.

The five-year agreement with the satellite station has seen England ejected from the Five Nations tournament for breaking the understanding that - France notwithstanding - the home nations were not permitted to sell Five Nations rights on their own accord. - Derek Douglas the Herald Scotland

They were then ejected again in 1997 only to be let back in once more. The relationship between the clubs and the RFU in England became fractured and bitter.


  • BBC Website
  • Bleacher Report (Danny Coyle)

March 4th - Davy Tweed, aged 35, became the oldest Irish debutant in a Five Nations match when he took the field against France in Dublin. The reception the giant Ballymena lock received was far from warm, however. Tweed, from Antrim, was a well-known hardline unionist who reputedly later said he "played 30 times for my country [Ulster] and once for Ireland".

Philippe Sella (France) plays his last international against England. He was the first rugby player to reach 100 international caps and held the record for the most international caps until overtaken by Jason Leonard in 2003. Career Record: P111, W72, D5, L34. Test Points: 125. Tries: 30

16 December: new West Stand at Twickenham (containing 25,000 seats, dressing rooms, a medical suite and fitness centre) opened by HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, prior to England v Western Samoa.

October 31st - The first ever Heineken Cup match: eventual champions Toulouse travelled to Romania and beat Farul Constanta 54-10.


David Campese (Australia) plays his last international against Wales and was the second player to reach 100 international caps. Career Record: P101, W67, D2, L32. Tries: 64.


Bath RFU and Wigan RLFC playing against each other at both Rugby codes; first at Maine Road, Manchester on 8th May under League rules - result Wigan 82 Bath 6; the game was marked by a double hat-trick of tries from Martin Offiah (who in 1996 played both codes, League for the Broncos at Warrington and Union for Bedford).

Wigan: Radlinski; J Robinson, Tuigamala, Connolly, Offiah; Paul, Edwards; Cowie, Hall, O'Connor, Houghton, Cassidy, Farrell. Substitutes used: Smyth, Murdock, Quinnell, Johnson.

Bath: Lumsden; Sleightholme, De Glanville, Waters, Adebayo; Catt, Callard; Yates, Sanders, Haag, Vander, Ojomoh, A Robinson. Substitutes used: Butland, Redman, McCarthy, Pearce.

Referee: R Smith (Castleford).

Then two weeks later the return match under Union rules was held at Twickenham - result Bath 44 Wigan 19

Wigan also playing in, and won, the RFU’s Middlesex Sevens competition, beating Wasps 38-15 in the final.

24 January: the new Museum of Rugby open to the public at Twickenham. (Officially opened by The Right Hon Virginia Bottomley MP JP in March).

The Tri-Nations Tournament involving Australia, New Zealand and South Africa begins, played on a home and away basis. New Zealand win all four matches and become the inaugural champions.

1997 - The last surviving member of the USA 1924 gold medal winning team Norman Cleaveland passes away aged 96.

Mr. Cleaveland was a lifetime member of the Santa Fe Rugby Football Club. One of his desires at the end of his life was to see rugby back in the Olympic.

The Cook Cup established when Australia and England contracted to play each other bi-annually for 10 years, on a home and away basis.

The Allied Dunbar Premiership was started for the 1997/8 season:
12 clubs. Sin bins introduced 1 November 1997 denoted by a white triangle.
Relegation and Promotion: No automatic Relegation. Top two clubs from Premiership Two were automatically promoted. Playoffs see bottom two in Premiership One take on 3rd and 4th in Premiership Two over two legs, making a 14-team Premiership for 98/99.
Promoted: Bedford, West Hartlepool, and London Scottish
Play-offs: London Irish retain their Premiership One status, Bristol relegated,
Champions: Newcastle Falcons.

RFU Administration staff move into new offices opposite Twickenham Stadium

March 1st - With 20 minutes left England were leading France 20-6, after a first half in which they played "sublime rugby", but then France's determination to keep possession and run the ball paid off with 17 unanswered points. Brive centre Christophe Lamaison was the inspiration with a try, two conversions, two penalties and a drop goal as France won 23-20.

In 1997 nouveau riche Newcastle won the English title, but many saw this as a a disaster for the Test game:

No club has contributed more to the hopeless plight in which the Rugby Football Union now finds itself than Newcastle under Sir John Hall. If it were just England suffering it would be bad enough, but there are other casualties of this civil war. The Scottish, Irish and Welsh squads have all been grievously weakened by the unavailability of players contracted to English clubs. The argument that the mass withdrawals from the summer tours are the result of unavoidable injury is manifestly not the case. Many of them have been turning out for their clubs for weeks. The truth is, quite simply, that the players are unavailable because of the demands, either physical or contractual, placed upon them by their clubs and, as a result, international rugby is being grossly devalued. - Chris Rea The Independent 


The first official Women's Rugby World Cup, in Amsterdam, Netherlands was won by New Zealand who beat USA 46 - 12. Teams taking part were: Australia , Canada , England , France , Germany , Ireland , Italia , Kazakhstan , Netherlands , New Zealand , Russian Federation , Scotland , Spain , Sweden , USA , Wales.

The Hopetoun Cup was established as a perpetual trophy between Australia and Scotland.

England's worst defeat in history, beaten 76 - 0 by Australia in the so called tour from hell.

The International Rugby Football Board drops the ‘F’ to become the IRB.


Scotland are the last winners of the Five Nations Championship.

Forth Rugby World Cup - Wales.

The form of rugby officially designated as Rugby Union is now played in more than 100 countries around the world including Australia, New Zealand, Japan, England, Scotland, Wales, France, Italy, Fiji, and South Africa. The sport's international governing body is the International Rugby Football Board (IRFB). In the United States there are more than 1400 rugby clubs and more than 100,000 players, governed by USA Rugby.

October 31 - France beat the All Blacks 43-31 in the Rugby World Cup semi-final. The French had trailed by 14 points early in the second-half before Philippe Bernat-Salles, Richard Dourthe and Christophe Dominici added to an earlier score by fly-half Christophe Lamaison. Lamaison finished with 28 points and Dominici was unplayable in the second-half. Les Bleus took to the field at the close for a lap of honour when they were applauded off by every neutral in the 73,000 crowd.

The Lansdowne Cup was established as a perpetual trophy between Australia and Ireland. 

March 6th - Graham Henry's Welsh side began a ten-match winning run with a surprise 34-33 win against France, their first Paris triumph since 1975. The hero of the hour was Neil Jenkins with 19 points, despite missing with five kicks. "This was the biggest rugby occasion I've been involved in," Henry grinned. "To see their faces after the game was just a mint." Jean-Claude Skrela, the France coach, admitted the best side had won. "Our players did not have enough fear of the Welsh," he said. "However much our coaches said to them that Wales were our strongest opponents, I do not think our players truly believed us."

March 10th - Northampton are forced to back down in their stand-off with the RFU. The club had been refusing to allow any of its players take part in England's summer southern hemisphere tour, but faced with England coach Clive Woodward's response of leaving out all Northampton players from the Five Nations, they caved in.



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