The defining moments of 2009

Date published: December 31 2009

As December 31 draws closer, we have a look back at the moments that made 2009 a year to remember for some but one to forget for others.

As December 31 draws closer, we have a look back at the moments that made 2009 a year to remember for some but one to forget for others.

It's sad to say, but for all the highs of some brilliant games, rugby made the headlines for the wrong reasons far too often in 2009 – and for once it had nothing to do with what Danny Cipriani wore to dinner!

But we hate to linger on the forgettable stuff, there was loads to cheer about this year – especially if you were South African or Irish – so join us as we take a walk down memory lane.

January 31: Dan Carter puts in a brilliant performance for Perpignan as they draw 13-all with Stade Français at the Stade de France, but the fly-half ruptures his Achilles tendon in the dying moments of the game, ending his playing stint with the French club. The most expensive transfer in rugby history, Carter played just five games for the Catalans.

February 26: England and Bath prop Matt Stevens is banned from rugby for two years for failing a drugs test. Stevens later admits to suffering from a cocaine addiction.

March 8: Wales overcame Argentina in the World Cup Sevens Final in Dubai to cap a day of massive upsets and capture the Melrose Cup.

March 21: Wales fly-half Stephen Jones comes desperately close to denying Ireland their first Grand Slam in 61 years with late penalty at the Millennium Stadium. He misses and Ireland celebrate Six Nations glory as they win 17-15.

April 6: Brumbies lock Shawn Mackay dies in a Durban hospital eight days after being struck by a vehicle while on a night out with team-mates

April 11: The pace-setting Sharks lose 31-6 to the lowly Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. The Cheetahs' first win of the year is the beginning of the end for the Sharks as their Super 14 season crumbles and they miss the play-offs.

April 12: Harlequins winger Tom Williams fakes a blood injury to allow recognised kicker Nick Evans to come on and attempt a potentially winning drop-goal in dying minutes of their 5-6 loss to Leinster in the Heineken Cup quarter-final at the Stoop. By the end of the week an investigation is launched that will rock rugby's foundations.

April 30: Ospreys beat Dragons 27-18 but fail to pick up a bonus point, meaning Munster are confirmed as the new Magners League champions with two rounds to go.

May 3: Cardiff Blues are knocked out of the Heineken Cup in a ridiculous 'penalty shoot out' after their semi-final with Leicester ends 26-all. The sight of flanker Martyn Williams having to kick at goal to save his team has purists up in arms.

May 10: A group of Bath players go on a end-of-season party in London. Their antics become the centre of the 'Bath drugs scandal'

May 16: Number eight Jordan Crane scores the only try of the game as Leicester are crowned English champions for the eighth time, beating London Irish 10-9 in the Final at Twickenham.

May 23: Rocky Elsom stars in his last game for Leinster, who finally put the 'chokers' tag behind them and are crowned European Champions for the first time, beating Leicester Tigers 19-16 in Heineken Cup Final at Murrayfield .

May 30: The Bulls hammer the Chiefs 61-17 in Super 14 Final. Fourie du Preez and Bryan Habana score two tries each as the Pretoria side claim their second title.

June 1: South Africa are crowned 2009 IRB Sevens World Series champions despite losing 20-19 to Fiji in the Edinburgh Sevens Final. Paul Treu's side finish a dominant season a full 30 points clear of the Islanders in the standings.

June 6: Full-back Jerome Porical stars as Perpignan win the Top 14 Final, their first title in over 50 years. But as much attention goes the way of title-less Clermont, who lose their tenth final!

June 13: Argentina's pack put on a powerful display as the Pumas record an historic 24-22 win over England in Salta.

June 13: France stun the All Blacks 27-22 in Dunedin to claim only their fourth win on New Zealand soil in 22 attempts and their first since 1994.

June 24: Willem De Waal kicks a last-minute penalty to snatch a draw for the Emerging Boks against the touring Lions. The tourists lose momentum.

June 27, 15h01: Assistant referee Bryce Lawrence spots Schalk Burger's fingers wandering over Luke Fitzgerald's face during the Second Test at Loftus Versfeld. French referee Christophe Berdoes 'only' produces a yellow card and a scandal erupts.

June 27, 16h23: Jaque Fourie somehow avoids the touch line to sneak into the corner, scoring a crucial try to put the Springboks back in contention.

June 27, 16h30: For the second time in five days, the Lions succumb to a kick in the 80th minute. In the final act of the game, Morné Steyn kicks a 50m penalty to win the Test and the series for South Africa.

August 3: Ex-Bath players Michael Lipman, Andrew Higgins and Alex Crockett are each banned from the game for nine months after being found guilty of failing to take drugs tests. A bans come a month after lock Justin Harrison was suspended for eight months after he admitted taking cocaine during their infamous night out in London.

August 15: Two yellow cards in the dying minutes cost the Griquas dearly as loose forward Pedrie Wannenburg scores in the final minute to hand the Blue Bulls a 25-24 win in Kimberley. Two months later the Griquas miss out on a Currie Cup semi-final berth on points difference.

August 16: In the wake of “Bloodgate”, Harlequins Director of Rugby Dean Richards is banned for three years for orchestrated cheating. Richards claims that faking blood injuries is widespread in rugby.

September 9: Stade Français sack coach Ewen McKenzie after a dismal start to the season.

September 12: Frans Steyn kicks two penalties from his own half in Hamilton as South Africa beat New Zealand for third consecutive time to secure the Tri-Nations.

October 9: The International Olympic Commitee rubber stamps Sevens rugby's inclusion in the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro

October 22: Southland shock defending champions Canterbury 9-3 in Christchurch to take home the Ranfurly Shield for the first time in 50 years. The city of Invercargill welcomes the Log O' Wood in true party style.

October 31: New Zealand complete a clean sweep in the 2009 Bledisloe Cup with a 32-19 win over Australia in Tokyo.

October 31: The Blue Bulls' Springboks return just in time to save their side's ailing Currie Cup campaign and cap a stellar year with a victory 36-24 over the Cheetahs in the final at a packed Loftus Versfeld.

November 7: Canterbury survive a late fightback from Wellington to defend their Air New Zealand Cup crown with a thrilling 28-20 win in Christchurch.

November 13: France bully South Africa in Toulouse to rumble their way to a