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Defining Moments of 2013

31st December 2013 08:54

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British and Irish Lions v Australia 2013

The British and Irish Lions celebrate their success in Australia

Planet Rugby looks back at the moments which - for better or for worse - made 2013 a year to remember.

11 January: Stormers and Springboks wing Bryan Habana confirms that he will join Toulon at the end of Super Rugby. The 2007 World Cup-winner signs a three-year deal with the Top 14 outfit.

15 January: Eric Bechu, the joint coach of Top 14 side Montpellier, died at the age of 53 after a long battle with cancer.

20 January: Although not one of the most exciting games of the season, Leicester and Toulouse's Heineken Cup Pool Two clash was one of the most important. The winners qualified for the quarter-finals while the losers were knocked out. In a match marked by many misses by the French team's kickers, and only one try in the snow, Toulouse lost 9-5 and failed to qualify for the first time in four years.

28 January: Zac Guildford's drinking habits get him into the headlines again. After assaulting someone at a bar and at a party, Guildford announces that he will leave the Crusaders for an "indefinite time" to undertake an intensive treatment programme for his drinking.

3 February: Italy secured a 23-18 victory over France in Rome. In a stunning offensive performance led by an outstanding Luciano Orquera, the Azzurri dominated les Bleus and finally seemed to justify their presence in the Six Nations.

9 February: Bordeaux-Begles claimed one of the biggest upsets of the season when they thrashed league-leaders Toulon 41-0 at their Chaban-Delmas Stadium. On the same day Agen also shocked Toulouse by beating them 22-9 at the Stade Armandie in Agen.

19 February: French reports confirm that Jonathan Sexton has finally signed for Racing Metro in a deal worth in the region of €600,000 a year for two seasons with the option of a third year.

22 February: Super Rugby's newest franchise, the Southern Kings, got their campaign off to a fine start with a 22-10 victory over the Western Force in Port Elizabeth.

14 March: Zac Guildford returns to training with the Crusaders after more than a month of rehabilitation. He declares with great humility that he is an "alcoholic". Guildford's admission and the steps he has taken to battle his addiction were enough to convince the New Zealand Rugby Union not to terminate his contract.

16 March: After beating France in their tournament opener, Italy finished their Six Nations campaign in fine style with a 22-15 victory over Ireland in Rome. The result meant that they shared third spot on the table with Scotland - their best finish in the Six Nations since joining the competition in 2000.

16 March: Wales are crowned Six Nations champions for the second successive year thanks to their 30-3 demolition of tournament favourites England in Cardiff.

19 March: Reds director of rugby Ewen McKenzie announces that he will be leaving his job at the Brisbane-based franchise at the end of the season after three full seasons and a Super Rugby title.

28 March: France's rugby players' union react with disbelief after the French anti-doping agency (AFLD) director of testing Francoise Lasne reveals that rugby had returned the highest proportion of positive doping tests in the country last year. After immediate reactions supporting this claim and others criticising the method used to count, the AFLD eventually admitted it had made some basic mathematical errors.

9 April: Wales wing George North's switch from the Scarlets to Northampton is confirmed. The 20-year-old will join the Premiership side for the 2013/14 season on a three-year deal.

12 April: Stade Franšais scrum-half Jerome Fillol receives a 14-week ban for spitting in the face of Peter Stringer of Bath during an Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-final in Bath on 6 April.

13 April: Munster lock Paul O'Connell kicks Dave Kearney of Leinster in the head during their derby clash at Thomond Park. O'Connell escapes sanction which infuriates the French press and Clermont Auvergne's management as Munster are set to face the Top 14 side in a Heineken Cup semi-final on 27 April. A suspension for O'Connell would have been a huge loss for the Irish province.

27 April: Clermont Auvergne secure a hard-fought 10-6 win over Munster in their Heineken Cup semi-final at Stade de la Mosson in Montpellier.

28 April: Jonny Wilkinson is Toulon's hero as he kicks seven penalties and a drop-goal to steer his side to a 24-12 victory over Saracens at Twickenham. The win secure their place in an all-French Heineken Cup Final against Clermont.

29 April: Leinster's Joe Schmidt is appointed as head coach of Ireland until 2016. The New Zealander takes over from Declan Kidney whose five-year tenure ended after a disappointing Six Nations campaign.

30 April: British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland names a 37-man squad to tour Australia, with Wales openside flanker Sam Warburton confirmed as captain.

16 May: Richie McCaw announces that he is back in training after going on a sabbatical since the end of 2012. He doesn't given an exact date on his return to competition.

17 May: Leinster produced a remarkable display of clinical finishing to beat Stade Franšais 34-13 in the Amlin Challenge Cup final at the RDS in Dublin.

18 May: 36-year-old Ireland and Munster fly-half Ronan O'Gara announces his retirement. He will take up a coaching role with Racing Metro for the 2013/14 season.

18 May: Toulon staged a dramatic fightback to beat French rivals Clermont Auvergne 16-15 in a thrilling Heineken Cup final in Dublin.

19 May: Toulon and former England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson is named ERC European Player of the Year for 2013.

25 May: Leicester thrash Northampton 37-17 to win the Premiership title for the third time in five years.

26 May: Northampton hooker and captain Dylan Hartley is ruled out of the British and Irish Lions tour to Australia due to an 11-week suspension. This after he was red-carded in the Premiership Final against Leicester for swearing at referee Wayne Barnes and calling him a cheat.

27 May: Vern Cotter is confirmed as the next head coach of Scotland. The Scottish Rugby Union announce that the 51-year-old would begin his role in June 2014, when his contract at Clermont Auvergne expires.

1 June: Castres spring a huge surprise by beating Toulon 19-14 in the Top 14 Final at the Stade de France in Paris. Castres' half-backs Rory Kockott and Remi Tales combined perfectly and score all their team's points.

11 June: Wallabies coach Robbie Deans announces his 31-man squad for the three-Test series against the British and Irish Lions. The biggest surprise is the exclusion of Reds fly-half Quade Cooper.

12 June: New Sharks CEO John Smit announces coach John Plumtree will be relieved of his duties when his contract expires in October. However, two weeks later the Durban-based franchise confirm that Plumtree has left his head coaching with immediate effect.

15 June: Japan make history by beating Six Nations champions Wales 23-8 for their first ever victory over a major rugby nation in nearly 80 years of international competition.

15 June: British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland calls up former Wales wing Shane Williams for the Lions clash in their final warm-up game against Brumbies in Canberra.

18 June: The Brumbies beat the British and Irish Lions 14-12 in Canberra and become the first provincial team to beat the famous tourists since Northern Transvaal in 1997.

20 June: All Blacks wing Rene Ranger confirms that he is quitting his international career in favour of a lucrative contract with Montpellier.

22 June: The British and Irish Lions beat Australia 23-21 in a thrilling first Test in Brisbane. Despite the victory, they suffer a major blow when veteran lock Paul O'Connell breaks his arm in the clash.

23 June: England complete a 20-point turnaround in the second half to beat Wales in the first ever all-northern hemisphere IRB Junior World Championship Final. England secured a 23-15 victory in Vannes.

29 June: A late try from Adam Ashley-Cooper gives Australia a series-levelling 16-15 victory over the British and Irish Lions in Melbourne. The Lions suffer another setback when captain and openside flanker Sam Warburton suffers a hamstring injury which rules him out of the rest of the tour.

30 June: New Zealand lift the Rugby World Cup Sevens 2013 title in the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow after beating England 33-0 in the final. New Zealand's Tim Mikkelson is also announced as the 2013 IRB Sevens Player of the Year for 2013.

2 July: Leicester Tigers boss Richard Cockerill is suspended for nine matches by the Rugby Football Union after he was found guilty of using obscene, inappropriate and/or unprofessional language and behaviour towards fourth official Stuart Terheege during the Premiership final against Northampton.

3 July: There is a huge outcry, especially in Ireland, when British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland drops veteran centre Brian O'Driscoll for the third Test against Australia in Sydney. It is the first time in his 14-year career that O'Driscoll has been dropped.

6 July: The British and Irish Lions secure their first series win in 16 years when they thrash Australia 41-16 in the series deciding third Test in Sydney.

8 July: SANZAR announce that the Rugby Championship will be the tournament which will unveil the debut of the new 'crouch, bind, set' scrum engagement trial. The new trial laws is aimed at enhancing player welfare and boosting scrum stability.

9 July: Robbie Deans is relieved of his duties as Wallabies coach after their 2-1 series defeat to the British and Irish Lions. He is replaced by former Reds boss Ewen McKenzie

17 July: All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw returns from his sabbatical when he is named amongst the replacements for the Crusaders' Super Rugby play-off against the Reds in Christchurch on 20 July.

18 July: New Zealand are crowned the 2012/13 HSBC Sevens World Series champions, after beating Australia 47-12 in the final of the 2013 London Sevens.

27 July: The Chiefs and the Brumbies reach the Super Rugby Final after beating the Crusaders and Bulls in their respective semi-finals. The Chiefs pip the Crusaders 20-19 in Hamilton and the Brumbies claim a 26-23 victory over the Bulls in Pretoria.

3 August: The Chiefs are crowned Super Rugby champions for the second successive year after they secure a 27-22 victory over the Brumbies in Hamilton

17 August: Richie McCaw becomes the first All Black forward to score 100 Test points when he scores a try in their 47-29 victory over Australia in their Rugby Championship opener in Sydney.

17 August: South Africa record the biggest ever winning margin in either the Rugby Championship or Tri-Nations when they beat Argentina 73-13 in Soweto.

24 August: Tony Woodcock becomes the fourth All Black to play 100 Tests in New Zealand's 27-16 victory over Australia in Wellington.

24 August: South Africa record their first away win in the Rugby Championship when they beat Argentina 22-17 in Mendoza.

3 September: Leinster and Ireland outside centre Brian O'Driscoll reiterates that he will be hanging up his boots at the end of the 2013/14 season.

7 September: Dan Carter becomes the first player to pass 1400 Test points when he adds 10 points in New Zealand's 28-13 victory over Argentina in Hamilton.

7 September: South Africa record their first win at Suncorp Stadium and the first in Brisbane since 1971 when they beat Australia 38-12 in Brisbane. The victory marks the biggest ever winning margin by the Springboks over the Wallabies in Australia.

10 September: The futures of the Heineken Cup and Amlin Challenge Cup are thrown into doubt when Premiership Rugby release a statement detailing how the English and French leagues planned to form a new breakaway competition from next season.

12 September: France's National Rugby League president Paul Goze reiterates that French sides will not participate in the Heineken Cup in 2014.

14 September: Brumbies back-row Ben Mowen - playing in just his seventh Test - becomes Australia's 80th Test captain during their 14-13 victory over Argentina in Perth.

15 September: Premiership Rugby chief Mark McCafferty reveals that English clubs are no longer interested in negotiating with European Rugby Cup Ltd. McCafferty makes it clear that English and French clubs are not willing to be part of a tournament that is not run by the clubs themselves.

22 September: The battle to shape the European club rugby landscape intensifies with the English and French clubs announcing that their proposed alternative to the Heineken Cup will be called the Rugby Champions Cup.

23 September: The French Rugby Federation (FFR) indicates it will oppose Anglo-French plans to establish a breakaway competition as a replacement for the Heineken Cup.

5 October: The All Blacks beat the Springboks 38-27 in Johannesburg, in what is widely regarded as the best game of 2014. The result secures New Zealand the Rugby Championship title for the second successive year.

5 October: Argentina centre Felipe Contepomi retires after los Pumas' 54-17 loss to the Wallabies in Rosario.

5 October: Toulon president Mourad Boudjellal says his club will not compete in the Rugby Champions Cup in protest to the LNR's proposed new laws on foreign players.

11 October: Dr Jon Patricios, an expert at the forefront of rugby's concussion debate claims the benchmark player assessments are being manipulated.

24 October: The Highlanders announce that former fly-half, and Otago ITM Cup coach, Tony Brown, has signed for the Dunedin-based franchise as an assistant coach.

26 October: Canterbury win their sixth successive ITM Cup title when they beat Wellington 29-13 in the final in Wellington.

26 October: The Sharks claim the 2013 Currie Cup title in Cape Town thanks to a 33-19 victory over defending champions Western Province.

16 November: Martin Castrogiovanni and Sergio Parisse become the third and fourth Italian players to earn 100 caps in the Azzurri's 37-31 victory over Fiji in Cremona. Fiji receive five yellow cards which breaks the record for the number of sin-binnings by one team in an international match.

16 November: Dan Carter becomes the fifth All Black to earn 100 test caps in New Zealand's 30-22 victory against England at Twickenham.

16 November: Gethin Jenkins becomes the fourth player to play 100 Tests for Wales in their 40-6 triumph over Argentina in Cardiff.

24 November: New Zealand make history as a late converted try saw them beat Ireland 24-22 at the Aviva Stadium, ending the year with 14 Test wins from 14 - the first country to achieve the feat in the professional era.

27 November: All Blacks hooker Andrew Hore announces his retirement. The 35-year-old won 85 caps for New Zealand after making his debut in 2002.

28 November: France's top clubs vote to return to the Heineken Cup, leaving the English clubs isolated and the proposed Rugby Champions Cup in tatters.

30 November: Australia full-back Israel Folau equals Lote Tuqiri's record of scoring ten tries in a calendar year for the Wallabies. Folau's record equalling feat is achieved when he scores a try in Australia's 30-26 win over Wales in Cardiff.

3 December: New Zealand number eight Kieran Read is named the IRB Player of the Year 2013. Read would also win the Kel Tremain Memorial trophy, as New Zealand's Player of the Year, the inaugural rugby Players' Player of the Year Award and he was also voted player of the year by the game's international fan base.

3 December: Wales' top referee Nigel Owens is honoured by the Welsh Rugby Union for officiating 100 Celtic League matches.

3 December: Representatives from the 12 Premiership clubs confirm they won't take part in next season's Heineken Cup. The dozen representatives met in London after the dramatic decision by the Top 14 sides to pull out of the proposed Anglo-French breakaway Rugby Champions Cup

7 December: Toulon wing Bryan Habana is forced off the field with a hamstring injury in a Heineken Cup match against Exeter. The injury will keep him on the sidelines until the new year.

8 December: South Africa's Sevens team fight back from a 14-0 deficit to beat New Zealad 17-14 in the final of round three of the HSBC Sevens World Series played in Port Elizabeth. They dedicate their victory to their country's former president Nelson Mandela, who passed away three days earlier.

10 December: The Taranaki Rugby Football Union joins the Chiefs as part of a seven-year licence issued by New Zealand Rugby to run the organisation.

11 December: RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie believes English participation in European competition can be salvaged for next season and says the RFU is working on arranging a deal between their European counterparts and the breakaway English clubs.

12 December: London Irish announce that a majority shareholding has been acquired by a consortium of London-based Irish businessmen.

19 December: Code-hopper Sonny Bill Williams will return to New Zealand rugby, after confirming a two-year deal with the NZRU and the Chiefs franchise.

Compiled by David Skippers and Franšois Valentin