Defining Moments of 2012

Date published: December 30 2012

We look back at the moments which – for better or for worse – made 2012 a year to remember.

We look back at the moments which – for better or for worse – made 2012 a year to remember.

26 January: Toulon owner Mourad Boudjellal receives a 130-day suspension following his outburst against French referees after his team's Top 14 clash with Clermont on 8 January.

27 January: Blue Bulls rugby supremo Heyneke Meyeris appointed as the new Springbok head coach, taking over from Peter de Villiers who coached South Africa from 2008 to 2011.

31 January: England caretaker coach Stuart Lancaster appoints Harlequins flanker Chris Robshaw to captain England in their opening two Six Nations matches.

11 February: Charlie Hodgson's second try in two games helps England battle past Italy, winning 19-15 in Rome.

8 March: The Argentina Rugby Union (UAR) announce that New Zealand's World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry will return to international rugby as an adviser to the Pumas in their first season of the Rugby Championship.

11 March: Aironi record a shock result over Munster in the PRO12, defeating the Irish side 21-17 at Stadio Zaffanella.

17 March: The Irish scrum is destroyed at Twickenham as England rescue their Six Nations campaign with a 30-9 victory.

17 March: Wales beat France 16-9 in a tight battle at the Millennium Stadium to clinch the Grand Slam. In a generally below-par tournament, Wales also claim victories over Ireland (23-21), Scotland (27-13), England (19-12) and Italy (24-3).

18 March: Leicester book their place in the 2012/13 Heineken Cup after beating Northampton 26-14 in the LV= Cup Final at Sixways Stadium.

6 April: Italian side Aironi to pull out of Pro12 after their licence is revoked by the Italian Federation.

29 April: In-form Cheetahs pivot Johan Goosen is ruled out for four months and misses the rest of the Super Rugby season due to injury.

30 April: Former England fly-half Danny Cipriani leaves the Melbourne Rebels with immediate effect after both parties agreed to terminate his contract. He later joins Sale Sharks.

5 May: Newcastle face the prospect of relegation from the Premiership despite their crunch basement battle against fellow strugglers Wasps ending with a hard-earned 14-10 victory. The Falcons finished bottom by a point following a 22-game regular league season that saw them win just six matches.

12 May: The Rebels produce one of the upsets of the Super Rugby season, beating the Crusaders 28-19 in Melbourne.

13 May: New Zealand clinch the IRB Sevens World Series crown for the 10th time in 13 seasons by finishing third at the season-ending London Sevens at Twickenham. The season's top scorer and Kiwi playmaker Tomasi Cama takes home the Player-of-the-Year award.

18 May: Veteran France scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili kicks all of his side's points as Biarritz beat French rivals Toulon 21-18 to be crowned Amlin Challenge Cup champions in a dour, try-less final.

19 May: Leinster become only the second team to win successive Heineken Cup titles after beating Ulster 42-14 in an historic all-Irish Final at Twickenham. Full-back Rob Kearney is named ERC Player of the Year.

26 May: Having finished top of the standings at the end of the regular season, Harlequinsclaim their first-ever top-flight title after beating Leicester in a nail-biting Premiership Final at Twickenham.

27 May: The Ospreys pip Leinster at the death to claim a dramatic 31-30 win in the PRO12 Final at the RDS Stadium in Dublin. Wing Shane Williams scores the winning try two minutes from time to end his stellar career in Wales in fine style.

2 June: The last round of Super Rugby fixtures are played before the tournament breaks for nearly a month during the June internationals.

4 June: South Africa coach Heyneke Meyer names experienced centre Jean de Villiers as his captain for the upcoming three-Test series against England.

5 June: Scotland produce one of the defensive performances of the season, upsetting the Wallabies 9-6 in wet and windy conditions in Newcastle on the Australian East coast. The Scots go on to complete an unbeaten southern hemisphere tour thanks to wins over Samoa and Fiji.

7 June: The Italian Rugby Federation announce the new team that will replace Aironi in the PRO12 will be named 'Zebre.' They fail to win a match in any competition in 2012.

9 June: After two try-less Top 14 semi-finals, the pattern is repeated in the final at the Stade de France where Toulouse are crowned champions after battling to a hard-fought 18-12 victory over Toulon. Ex-All Black Luke McAlister kicks all off Toulouse's points. It's their nineteenth title.

13 June: The International Rugby Board announces a new, simplified scrum engagement sequence to be implemented the following season in each hemisphere.

16 June: JP Pietersen is named man-of-the-match as South Africa seal the series against England with a closely fought 36-27 victory in Johannesburg.

16 June: A below-strength Argentina side upsets France 23-20 in the first Test in Cordoba as Felipe Contepomi – who had announced he won't play in the Rugby Championship – kicks 13 points and leads the young team.

22 June: South Africa become IRB Junior World Championship winners and end New Zealand's four-year reign with a 22-16 win at Newlands in Cape Town.

22 June: Lions coach John Mitchell is suspended by the Super Rugby franchise, pending further investigation. The suspension comes after several players laid complaints about Mitchell to Golden Lions Rugby Union president Kevin de Klerk.

23 June: New Zealand beat Ireland by a record 60-0 margin to complete a series whitewash in the third Test match in Hamilton.

23 June: England recover from their series loss to the Boks by earning a 14-all draw in the last Test match which was played in Port Elizabeth.

23 June: Australia complete a series whitewash over Wales as the Wallabies punish indiscipline by the Grand Slam winners to edge a narrow third Test in Sydney.

23 June: The French bounce back in the second Test in Argentina, running in six tries to crush los Pumas 49-10 for a record victory. Fred Michalak is the star of the show.

29 June: After a long legal battle London Welsh win their appeal over their