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John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, including The Book of English International Rugby, The Book of International Rugby Records, British Lions, The Five Nations Championship, Rugby's Strangest Matches and Rugby's Greatest Characters. He was a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph for 19 years and is co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has also provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.
Ask John
Wolfhounds and Handel
John Griffiths
January 16, 2013

Welcome to the latest edition of Ask John where renowned rugby historian John Griffiths will answer any rugby-related query you have!

So, if there's something you've always wanted to know about the game we love but didn't know who to ask, or you think you can stump our expert - then get involved by sending us a question.

In this edition, John looks at the Irish Wolfhounds, John Selwyn Moll, most first-class goals from marks, oldest and senior Welsh caps and famous rugby-playing families.

Do you have match records for an Irish Wolfhounds game with Munster in 1974? Pat Coleman, Ireland

The Wolfhounds - Ireland's equivalent of the Barbarians - were invited to select an international-strength party to undertake a tour of the Irish provinces early in the 1974-5 season to mark the IRFU'S Centenary. The Irish Rugby Union's President also chose a fifteen from the tour party to face Ireland in a full-blown cap match to kick-off the celebrations. The international ended in an 18-all draw and was played at Lansdowne Road, Dublin on Saturday September 7, 1974.

The Wolfhounds began their four-match tour at Ballinakill in Waterford the next day against Munster, the reigning Irish provincial champions. Munster opened the scoring with a fourth-minute try by full-back Dick Spring and never surrendered their lead, winning the match 33-28. Eight of the Wolfhounds' XV and two of Munster's winning side (Moss Keane and Terry Moore) had played in the international match the day before.

The Munster match details were as follows:

Munster: R M Spring (Dublin Univ); P Pratt (Garryowen), L A Moloney (Garryowen), J Coleman (Highfield), P J Lavery (London Irish); B J McGann (Cork Const), D M Canniffe (Lansdowne); P O'Callaghan (Dolphin), P C Whelan (Garryowen), O C Waldron (Clontarf), M I Keane (Lansdowne), J Madigan (Bohemians), S M Deering (Garryowen), T A P Moore (Highfield), C C Tucker (Shannon)

Scorers Tries: McGann, Spring, Tucker, Lavery, Coleman, Deering Conversions: McGann (2), Spring Penalty Goals: McGann

Irish Wolfhounds: A R Irvine (Scotland); A Dubertrand (France), R Bertranne (France), R D L'Estrange (Australia), J J Williams (Wales); A Marot (France), R Astre (France); J McLauchlan (Scotland), J-L Ugartemendia (France), J Iracabal (France), G Fay (Australia), A Estève (France), A Neary (England), A G Ripley (England), P I van Deventer (South Africa)

Scorers Tries: Irvine (2), Dubertrand (2), Ripley Conversion: Irvine Penalty Goals: Irvine (2) Referee Mr J R West (Leinster)

The Wolfhounds went on to beat Connacht (46-13), Ulster (21-3) and Leinster (21-16) in the following week.

Looking for information regarding J S Moll who toured the Argentine with Bernard Gadney's team in 1936? Colin Roberts, Wales

John Selwyn Moll was born in 1913 in the Greenwich area and educated at Bedford School, appearing in the First XV as a centre between 1930 and 1932. After school he worked for Lloyd's Bank and was playing for the Bank club when he was invited to join Bernard Gadney's team to tour the Argentine in 1936.

He joined Blackheath in 1938, played for Kent in the County Championship and appeared for the Barbarians in the Mobbs Memorial Match of 1939.

John Moll had been a member of the Bedford School Cadet Corps and joined the Northumberland Hussars (a Territorial unit) before the outbreak of World War Two. When War was finally declared in 1939 he served in the Royal Engineers, transferring to the 2nd/7th Battalion, The Queen's (Royal West Surrey Regiment) in late 1941. He reached the rank of Captain before he was listed as killed in action, aged 29, in an accident near Bury St Edmund's, Suffolk, on July 24, 1942. He was buried at Christ Church in Shamley Green, Surrey (where his parents lived)

Who kicked most goals from a mark before the scoring action was abolished? Matthew Wheeler, England

The scoring action ceased to exist in 1977 when the differential penalty was introduced. The law change reduced the mark to a free-kick. In the early years a kick at goal from a mark could be offered to any player in the side to which the mark had been awarded. Even so, it was an uncommon scoring action.

To the best of knowledge, the most first-class goals from marks were scored by the New Zealander Billy Wallace, who was a member of the Original All Blacks that toured Europe and North America in 1905-06.

The New Zealand utility back is credited with six goals from marks in his first-class career, including two in New Zealand's inaugural Test, against Australia in Sydney in 1903. Wallace is the only player in Test history to land two such goals in a match, though another New Zealander, Don Clarke, holds the distinction of landing two goals from marks in a Test career.

Between 1897 and 1908 Wallace played first-class rugby for Wellington, Otago, the North Island (against the South), and New Zealand. Four of his half-dozen goals from marks were before 1905 when the value of the scoring action was reduced from four to three points. In fact his first scoring action was a goal from a mark on his first-class debut - against Auckland at Wellington in August 1897, his province losing 11-4.

Who is the oldest surviving Welsh rugby union international following the death of the great Dr Jack Matthews? Matthew Wheeler, England

The oldest surviving Welsh international is Handel Greville, the Llanelli scrum-half who stepped in at a late hour to replace skipper Haydn Tanner for the Wales Test against Australia in December 1947, his side winning 6-0.

Greville was born at Drefach (Carmarthenshire) on September 13, 1921 and played an outstanding game in his only appearance for Wales. J B G Thomas of the Cardiff Western Mail described him as "the man of the match", adding "[Greville] exceeded all expectations in deputising for Tanner." But the great Tanner was fit to resume at the base of the Welsh scrummage for the 1947-48 Five Nations the next month and Greville was never capped again.

The senior surviving Welsh internationalist, however, is another Scarlet - Peter Rees. Though he is more than three years Greville's junior in age, Rees played for Wales a couple of months before his club mate. Rees was Wales's left-wing in their winning matches against France and Ireland in March 1947 and is the last survivor of Wales's first post-war Five Nations season.

Like many of their generation, Handel Greville and Peter Rees believed in putting plenty back into the game after retirement from playing. Greville was for many years a hard-working and efficient fixture-secretary for the club before serving as Chairman. Rees also did a stint as chairman and became club President in 1983.

Which families provided fathers and two sons capped for the same Home Union? John Higgs, England

Heredity in rugby was recently mentioned when Nick Youngs' sons Tom and Ben played in the autumn internationals. It was noted that they were the only sons of an England international to appear for their country since the Miltons - father William (in 1874-5) and sons Cecil (1906) and John (1904-07).

Two Irish families share the distinction. George Collopy, who played twice (against Scotland in 1891 and again in 1892), saw two sons (Billy between 1914 and 1924 and Dick from 1923 and 1925) capped. Moreover, the Collopy brothers, like the Youngs, actually played together on the same international team. Harry McKibbin, who played for Ireland in 1938 and 1939, saw his son Chris come on as a replacement against Scotland in 1976 while younger son Alistair was capped between 1977 and 1980.

Derek Quinnell (Wales 1972-80) saw both sons appear together for Wales. Scott played between 1993 and 2002 and Craig from 1995 to 2002.

J H ("Rufus") Bruce-Lockhart (Scotland 1913-20) was the father of Rab (Scotland 1937-39) and Logie (1948-53), while another pair of Scotland's capped brothers, John and Martin Leslie who played in the late 1990s and early 2000s, were the sons of the former New Zealand Test captain, Andy Leslie.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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