Planet Rugby

Defining Moments of 2012

29th December 2012 15:27

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Nathan Sharpe Australia 2012

Nathan Sharpe: Retired in 2012

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 eligibility for promotion to the Premiership, which sees Newcastle Falcons relegated.

29 June: The Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR) announces plans to build a new 82,000-seater stadium in Evry, 25km south of Paris despite questions over financing.

9 July: Chiefs and All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams confirms he will leave New Zealand at the end of the Super Rugby season to join Japanese side Panasonic Wild Knights before returning to Rugby League.

3 August: Former international referee Joël Jutge is appointed as the IRB's High Performance Match Official Manager, succeeding Paddy O'Brien in the key position.

4 August: The Chiefs win the Super Rugby title for the first time after thrashing the Sharks 37-6 in a one-sided final at Hamilton's Waikato Stadium.

16 August: The South African Rugby Union confirm that the Southern Kings will join the Stormers, Bulls, Sharks and Cheetahs in the 2013 Super Rugby tournament, The Kings' entry comes at the expense of the Lions who finished bottom of the South African Conference in 2012.

18 August: History is made at Newlands in Cape Town when South Africa plays host to newcomers Argentina in an expanded southern hemisphere tournament. The Springboks beat the Pumas 27-6.

25 August: South Africa need a late charge-down try to snatch a 16-all draw against Argentina at Estadio Malvinas Argentinas in Mendoza. This is the Pumas' best result in 15 Tests with the Springboks.

4 September: Warren Gatland is confirmed as the head coach of the British and Irish Lions for their 2013 tour of Australia.

6 September: Toulon head coach Bernard Laporte reveals that Wales prop Gethin Jenkins will not be given an early release to join the British and Irish Lions squad if the French club make the Top 14 Final raising doubts over the Lions prospects of a number of players based in France.

12 September: Premiership Rugby announces it has signed an exclusive UK television rights deal with BT from 2014. The new deal leaves the future of European rugby in doubt as English and French clubs call for the Heineken Cup qualification criteria and format to be revised.

23 September: Reds and Australia fly-half Quade Cooper's future in Rugby Union seems uncertain after he launches a thinly-veiled attack on Wallabies coach Robbie Deans' tactics and the Australian Rugby Union. Cooper refers to the Wallabies' "toxic environment" and voices his displeasure saying he is only allowed to play exciting rugby from February to May under Reds coach Ewen McKenzie.

29 September: South Africa bounce back from consecutive defeats on the road with a comprehensive 31-8 Rugby Championship victory over Australia at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria. This would be their biggest win of the year.

30 September: New Zealand clinch the inaugural Rugby Championship title with a round to spare with a 54-15 win over Argentina in La Plata.

13 October: The New Zealand Rugby Union decide to break with tradition and sell commercial space on the front of the world champions' jersey. The All Blacks' will have the name of US insurance giant AIG splashed across the front of the side's shirt.

20 October: The All Blacks fall inches short in their bid to equal the world record of 17 straight Test wins by a top-tier nation after an 18-18 draw with Australia in Brisbane. Keven Mealamu wins his 100th cap for New Zealand.

27 October: Western Province claim their first Currie Cup title since 2001 with a 25-18 win over the Sharks in Durban.

27 October: Canterbury win a record fifth ITM Cup title on the trot after beating Auckland 31-18 in Christchurch.

1 November: Springbok winger Bryan Habana is named South African Rugby Player of the Year for the third time. Bok lock Eben Etzebeth wins the Young Player of the Year award.

1 November: Wallabies lock Nathan Sharpe receives the 2012 John Eales Medal as Australia's Player of the Year in Sydney.

6 November: Former Racing Métro backs coach Simon Mannix alleges that Fijians at the Parisian club were paid to be unavailable for the 2011 World Cup so they could play in the Top 14 instead. He would later backtrack on these allegations saying his quotes were distorted.

13 November: Lions coach John Mitchell returns to the Johannesburg-based outfit, after being cleared of all misconduct charges.

16 November: Samoa shock Six Nations holders Wales when they secure a 26-19 win at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

24 November: The Springboks finish their end-of-year tour to Eurpoe on a high, with a 16-15 win over England at Twickenham. This means that they are unbeaten on the three-Test trip to the northern hemisphere after beating Ireland and Scotland in their previous matches.

25 November: Andy Robinson resigns as Scotland coach following their shock 21-15 loss to Tonga in Aberdeen.

28 November: Former All Blacks boss John Mitchell joins Premiership outfit, Sale on a full-time basis shortly after terminating his contract with the Lions.

29 November: Bryan Habana's spectacular try for South Africa against New Zealand in the Rugby Championship wins him the International Rugby Players' Association's (IRPA) Try of the Year award.

1 December: England end the All Blacks' 20-Test unbeaten run with a shock 38-21 victory at Twickenham.

3 December: England, Wales and Australia are drawn in the 'Pool of Death' at the 2015 Rugby World Cup draw in London.

3 December: New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter was named Player of the Year in a clean sweep by the world champions at the IRB awards in London.

6 December: SARU announces that South Africa will host Scotland, Italy and Samoa in a four-team tournament in June 2013.

12 December: British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland names Rob Howley, Andy Farrell and Graham Rowntree as his assistants for the tour to Australia.

14 December: All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw is named the Kelvin R Tremain Memorial Player of the Year in New Zealand's annual rugby awards.

15 December: Clermont claim back-to-back Heineken Cup victories over Leinster, with their 28-21 success in Dublin leaving the defending champions facing an uphill battle to make it past the pool stages.

18 December: Springboks and Blue Bulls lock Juandrè Kruger signs with Top 14 side Racing Metro, where he will join Wales centre Jamie Roberts as the flood of foreign talent towards France continues.

20 December: Scott Johnson takes on the role of Scotland's interim head coach for the Six Nations and the 2013 tour of South Africa.

21 December: Wallabies flanker David Pocock extends his contract with the Australian Rugby Union for three more years. The news comes shortly after Quade Cooper signs a new, watered-down deal with the ARU after protracted negotiations.

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