January Rugby Calendar

January 1 – France National Team Born

The foundation for the French national rugby team was laid on this day in rugby history when the Equipe de France faced the All Blacks on a cold and rainy at the Stade Colombes in Paris in 1906.

January 1: USA Fall To Blackheath RFC

The 1924 US Olympic rugby team was hastily pulled together with a mix of veterans, many who had not played regularly since 1920, and raw rookies.  The team lost to the Blackheath Rugby Club at Teddington on this day in rugby history in 1924.

January 2 – All Black Thorne Born

Former All Black and New Zealand Rugby Union player, Reuben David Thorne, was born on this day in rugby history in 1975.  The flanker was All Blacks captain for two successful years although his tenure ended on a down note.

January 3 – First Sending Off

The New Zealand tour of United Kingdom, Ireland, France and Canada in 1924/25 was most remembered as the march of the ‘invincibles’ with the visitors winning all 32 tour matches.  And on this day in rugby history, New Zealand defeated England in a match that featured the first sending off in a test match in rugby history.

January 4 – England’s First Win Over New Zealand

After dropping the first two encounters, England defeated the New Zealand All Blacks for the first time on this day in rugby history in 1936.  Alexander Obolensky, the son of a Russian prince, scored 2 tries while earning his first cap for England.

January 7 – Toulouse Wins Inaugural Heineken Cup

Toulouse won the inaugural Heineken Cup with their 21- 18 extra time win over Cardiff RFC at Cardiff Arms Park on this day in rugby history in 1996. Christophe Deylaud kicked the winning penalty in the final seconds of the period.

January 7 – Rugby’s First Penalty Goal

Wales won their first Triple Crown in 1893.  The opening match of the campaign was against England at Cardiff Arms Park and came down to the final moments.  Wales’ Billy Bancroft made the deciding kick, the first penalty goal in rugby history, to win 12-11 on this day in rugby history.

January 8 – ‘Butch’ James Born

Andrew David ‘Butch’ James was an influential member of the South Africa Springboks 2007 Rugby World Cup winning side and it was on this day in rugby history in 1979 that the fly-half was born.

January 9 – England vs Australia Rivalry Begins

England and Australia took to the pitch for the first time on this day in rugby history in 1909 at Blackheath’s Rectory Field in England.  The Wallabies won the match 9-3.

January 10 – Versatile Hodges Leads Wales Past England

Joseph Jehoida Hodges was one of the most versatile players in Wales history and it was on this day in rugby history in 1903 that he helped lead Wales to a 21-5 win over rivals England.

January 14 – 800th Heineken Cup Match

The Heineken Cup is the top European rugby club competition and it was on this day in rugby history in 2007 that the 800th match was played.  The match was a Pool 3 match between Stade Francais and Ospreys with the two sides finished 22-22 at Liberty Stadium.

January 15 – First Live Rugby Radio Broadcast

Rugby is common on television (OK not so much so in the U.S.) but that has not always been the case and it was on this day in rugby history in 1927 that the first live radio broadcast took place.

January 15 – First England Match at Twickenham

Twickenham is called the home of English rugby and it was on this day in rugby history in 1910 that the England national team played their first test match at the stadium facing off against Wales.

January 16 – England’s Back Born

Despite is small stature, Neil Back was an influential part of England 2003 Rugby World Cup winning side and played with three British and Irish Lions tours and it was on this day in 1969 that the flanker was born.

January 17 – Wales Start Centenary Celebrations

After playing their first match in 1881 against England, Wales started their centenary celebration with a 21-19 win over England on this day in rugby history in Cardiff.  The match was the opener for both teams in the Five Nations.

January 18 – Munster ‘Miracle Match’

The second of the so-called Munster ‘Miracle Matches,’ Munster defeated the Sale Sharks 31-9 in the final pool game of the 2005/06 Heineken Cup on the way to their first title on this day in rugby history in 2006.

January 19 – Columbia University Rugby Club

The northeast U.S. has always been a hotbed for rugby and it was on this day in rugby history in 1961 that Columbia University Rugby Football Club was first recognized as a university club and held their initial recruitment meeting.

January 20 – Rugby League Expelled from Russia

The arguments between fans of rugby league and rugby union can be endless but the Russian Ministry of Sports ended all talk on this day in rugby history in 2010 when they expelled the Rugby League from the State Register of Sports of Russia.

January 21 – Brian O’Driscoll Born

Brian O’Driscoll is considered by many to be one of the best rugby centers of all time and it was on this day in rugby history in 1979 that the Irishman was born in Dublin.  He has been nominated for the IRB World Player of the Year three times.

January 22 – Five Nations Kicks Off

The foundation for the Five Nations was laid on this day in rugby history in 1910 when Scotland and France met for the first time.  Scotland easily won the match 27-0 at Inverleith.

January 23 – Scott ‘Car-Crash’ Gibbs Born

A regular on the Wales national team and member of two British and Irish Lions tours, Scott ‘Car-Crash’ Gibbs was born on this day in rugby history in 1971.  The talented center played both union and rugby league during his career.

January 24 – Jonah Lomu Tackles Kidney Disorder

Jonah Lomu, considered the first true global rugby superstar, was forced to take an unexpected break from the game on this day in rugby history in 1997 due to a rare but serious kidney disorder nephrotic syndrome.

January 25 – Brive Win Heineken Cup

Brive ran away with the Heineken Cup title after a 28-9 win over Leicester at Cardiff Arms Park on this day in rugby history in 1997.  The 1996/07 tournament was the second edition of the European club competition and the first that included teams from England and Scotland.

January 26 – Meeting at the Pall Mall

Rugby experienced the game’s first growth spurt at the end of the 19th century and with the increase in the number of teams and players came with it different sets of rules for different regions in England so on this day in rugby history in 1871 21 club representatives meet at the Pall Mall restaurant in London to discuss and agree on a unified set of rules.

January 27 – The Greatest Rugby Match Ever Played

The ‘greatest match ever played’ played between the Barbarians and New Zealand All Blacks meeting in the Final Challenge Match of 1973 was played on this day in rugby history.  The Barbarians scored one of the most memorable tries in rugby history and went on to win 23 -11.

January 27 – Setanta Transfer Rights To FOX Soccer

Rugby has always been in short supply on TV in the U.S. and the options took a hit on this day in rugby history in 2010 when Setanta announced they were transferring their rights to rugby events to FOX Soccer Channel.

January 28 – Meyer Resigns at Leicester

With two-and-a-half years remaining on his contract, Heyneke Meyer retired from Leicester Tigers on this day in rugby history in 2009.  The 41-year-old left with the club’s permission a month earlier to help care for his wife’s parents, who were both seriously ill, in South Africa.

January 29 – Australia & New Zealand Named RWC Host

After a successful co-hosting at the inaugural 1987 Rugby World Cup, the IRB announced on this day in rugby history in 1998 that Australia and New Zealand would share that responsibility again in 2003.

January 30 – Ulster Win Heineken Cup

Ulster, with a team composed of many part-time players, defeated Colomiers 21-6 at Lansdowne Road on this day in rugby history in 1999 to win the Heineken Cup.  They became the first Irish club to win Europe’s top club competition.

January 31 – Japan Plays First International Match

Japan starting playing rugby in 1874 but it was on this day in rugby history in 1932 that the Japanese national team played their first international rugby match.  The Cherry Blossoms beat Canada 9-8.  The game was also the first international match for Canada.

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