Defining Moments of 2010

Date published: January 1 2011

We look back at the moments which – for better or for worse – made 2010 a year to remember.

We look back at the moments which – for better or for worse – made 2010 a year to remember.

2 Jan: After four unbeaten months, Premiership leaders Saracens lose for the second consecutive weekend as Leicester travel to Vicarage Road and win 22-17. It's not a good omen for Brendan Venter's team. Venter lands himself in hot water for criticising the referee…it's just the start of his troubles with the authorities.

6 Feb: Wales' Six Nations cause at Twickenham is fatally undermined when Alun Wyn Jones is sin binned for deliberately tripping Dylan Hartley. England score 17 points in his absence to win 30-17.

13 Feb: Shane Williams' scores a dramatic last-gasp try as Wales fight back to overturn a 12-point deficit and beat Scotland 31-24 at the Millennium stadium.

14 Feb: Welsh delight turns sour when loose forward Andy Powell is charged with drink driving after drives a golf buggy down the M4 highway. He is subsequently booted out of the Wales squad and is later slapped with a 15-month driving ban. In July Cardiff Blues release a statement saying Powell has “lost his way” and the loose forward heads East to join Wales defence coach Shaun Edwards at Wasps.

19 Feb: World rugby's newest team, the Melbourne Rebels, sign media-friendly English fly-half Danny Cipriani to a two-year contract.

20 March: A last-minute Dan Parks penalty ruins Ireland's farewell to Croke Park and secures Scotland's only Six Nations victory in a thrilling 23-20 win. The year does not get much better for the Irish…

20 March: France secure the Grand Slam with a hard-fought 12-10 victory over England. After nearly two years of constant change and talk of a return to French flair, France's success is based on a watertight defence and a stable squad. Unfortunately the lessons are not learnt for later in the year.

22 March: Former All Blacks prop Carl Hayman turns down a contract offer from the NZRU and signs a lucrative deal with French club Toulon. He is joined by Wallaby veteran George Smith, amongst others.

18 May: Saracens boss Brendan Venter is given a 14-week touchline ban following an altercation with Leicester fans at Welford Road. He makes the fatal mistake of eating the biscuits served at the disciplinary hearing – the RFU are not impressed.

29 May: Leicester Tigers win a record ninth English domestic title, beating Saracens 33-27 in the final at Twickenham. Brendan Venter is forced to watch the game from home in the fallout of 'Biscuit Gate'.

29 May: Leinster lose their first home Magners League match since September 2008 as the Ospreys score two telling first half tries to win the inaugural Grand Final at the Royal Dublin Society in Dublin. It's turns out to be topsy-turvy year for Scott Johnson's men who fail to get past the Heineken Cup quarter finals and are caught up in endless off-field controversies including the Lee Byrne 16th man Heineken Cup fiasco, a four-point Magners League penalty and ticket sanctions.

9/10/11 April: Four French clubs make the Heineken Cup quarter-finals. Clermont are the big losers as fly-half Brock James chokes and misses with five kicks and goal and with three drop goals to allow defending champions Leinster to sneak home with a one-point win in Dublin.

23 April: After beating the Crusaders and the Bulls, the giant-slaying Reds beat the Stormers 16-13 in the Super 14. While the Stormers pick themselves up and make it to the final, the Reds run out of steam and miss the play-offs.

26 April: Despite winning their place in the Top 14 on the field, Montauban are kicked out of professional rugby in France for financial mismanagement and are relegated to the Fédérale 1.

1/2 May: The Heineken Cup semi-finals are both Franco-Irish affairs and both prove to be one-sided as the packs from Biarritz and Toulouse dominate their visitors from Munster and Leinster respectively.

22 May: Forced out of their traditional home at Loftus Versfeld due to the soccer World Cup, the Bulls take their Super 14 Semi-final against the Crusaders to Orlando Stadium in Soweto and triumph 39-24, winning over many of the locals in the process.

22 May: An all-French Heineken Cup Final sees Toulouse grab an unprecedented fourth European title at the Stade de France in Paris.

23 May: Despite a try-scoring performance from Man of the Match Sonny Bill Williams, Cardiff Blues upset Toulon at the Stade Vélodrome in Marseille to claim the Amlin Challenge Cup, winning 28-21.

29 May: In an historic day for South African nation building, the Bulls return to Soweto and beat the Stormers in the Super 14 Final.

29 May: Clermont finally break their duck in the Top 14 Final, claiming the French title at the tenth time of asking. Les Jaunards beat defending champions Perpignan 19-6 to bring to an end one of the sorriest losing runs in professional sport.

30 May: Samoa produce a ruthless performance to overcome Australia 41-14 in the final of the Edinburgh Sevens, claiming their fourth Cup title of the season and rubber-stamping a first IRB Sevens World Series crown.

June: Lewis Moody takes over as England captain for the tour to Australia and New Zealand.

5 June: For the first time, the Springboks pick overseas based players as they take on Wales at the Millennium Stadium. The Boks come from behind at half time to sneak a 34-31 win but the headlines are made off the field when coach Peter de Villiers says those Boks plying their trade in the North are too slow.

12 June: Jamie Heaslip is sent off in New Plymouth as the All Blacks romp to a 66-28 win over Ireland.

12 June: In the 'Clash of the Hemispheres' defending Tri-Nations champions South Africa crush Six Nations champions France 42-17 at Newlands to cap horrible weekend for touring teams in the South.

19 June: After being run ragged in the first Test, England demolish the Wallabies scrum to win 21-20 in Sydney, their first success on Australian soil in seven years.

19 June: Scotland record their first series win in the southern Hemisphere when they beat Argentina for the second straight week, winning 13-9 in Mar del Plata.

22 June: New Zealand remain the only side to lift the Junior World Championship trophy after producing a dominant display to beat Australia 62-17 at the Estadio El Coloso del Parque in Rosario.

23 June: All Blacks winger Hosea Gear scores three tries as the New Zealand Maori cap