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John Griffiths | Columnist Index
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
Colin Simpson, Rob Andrew's post-playing record and Test rugby Trojans
John Griffiths
November 21, 2011

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 Griffiths looks at Colin Simpson, Rob Andrew's administrative record, Test 'mosts' in the past decade and Super Rugby and Heineken Cup winners.

Which rugby club did Colin Simpson (England v Wales, 16 Jan 1965) play for? Nigel Drury, South Africa

Colin Simpson was a wing/full-back who first impressed as a strapping runner for Ipswich School in the Rosslyn Park Schools Sevens tournaments of the early 1960s. After joining the Army from school, he made his debut in the Inter-Services tournament against the RAF at Twickenham in April 1963 whilst a cadet at Sandhurst.

He scored the only try of the match, the Army winning 8-6 to take the Services Championship title. The first post-war cadet to play for the Army in the Services Triangular Tournament, he was described in one report as standing 6 ft 6½ ins and weighing 14st … and those were the statistics that appeared against his name in the match programme when he appeared on the wing as one of the Barbarians' uncapped players against Wilson Whineray's All Blacks at Cardiff in February 1964.

Later the same year (while still at Sandhurst) he turned out in the Baa-Baas' side that played a special floodlit match against Cardiff in October. His late penalty made victory certain (12-8) for the touring side and an invitation to turn out for the Harlequins club came soon after.

He left his mark on several of the club's games leading up to Christmas. He scored two tries playing on the wing at Cheltenham (October 31), landed a touchline conversion in the 17-0 win against Oxford University (November 21) and crossed for a try in the 13-11 win against Cardiff (December 12). He also kicked a couple of penalty goals playing for the Combined Services against the French Armed Forces at Twickenham in late December.

Meanwhile he had attracted the attention of the England selectors and played on the wing for the Colours (the junior side) in the first trial at Weston-super-Mare (losing 5-6), for the Probables (losing 13-16) at Fylde, and for The Rest, scoring a late try, in the Final trial at Twickenham on January 2nd, 1965 (the match ending drawn, 9-9).

He was named a few days later to play left-wing in the England side that faced Wales at Cardiff. All four of England's threequarters in that match were new caps but Simpson, whose measurements the programme had now shrunk to a more believable 6 ft 1½ ins, was dropped after a 14-3 defeat. His place on the left wing went to Peter Cook for the Irish and French matches that season and was filled (famously) by Andy Hancock against Scotland in England's last match of the season.

What have been Rob Andrew's achievements as director of rugby at Newcastle Falcons and since leading the RFU's elite rugby department?Mark Simpson, England

He relinquished his day-job as a director with Debenham-Thorpe DTZ to join Sir John Hall's Newcastle Sporting Club as rugby development director on September 21st 1995. He was the first paid administrator/player of the game's professional era.

Newcastle's record during Andrew's oversight of 326 competitive games was:

1995-96 - Div Two: 8th
1996-97 - Div Two: 2nd (Promoted)
1997-98 - Prem: 1st (Champions at first attempt)
1998-99 - Prem: 8th (RFU Cup finalists (L 19-29 v Wasps))
1999-00 - Prem: 9th
2000-01 - Prem: 6th (Winners RFU Cup (W30-27 v Harlequins))
2001-02 - Prem: 6th
2002-03 - Prem: 10th
2003-04 - Prem: 9th (Winners RFU Cup (W37-33 v Sale))
2004-05 - Prem: 7th
2005-06 - Prem: 7th

He took up his appointment as RFU's elite rugby director on September 1st 2006.

England's record during Rob Andrew's RFU oversight reads:

2006-07 - Six Nations: 3rd
2007-08 - Six Nations: 2nd (RWC Finalists (L 6-15 v SA))
2008-09 - Six Nations: 2nd
2009-10 - Six Nations: 3rd
2010-11 - Six Nations: 1st (First Championship title for eight seasons)
2011-12 - Knocked-out by France RWC quarter-finals

England's Test playing record since Andrew took up his post is: P 66 W 34 D 1 L 31

Who has played the most international (Test) rugby over the past ten years? Barry, Ireland

New Zealand and Australia have featured in the most Tests in the ten years since the end of November 2001. The Six Nations and Tri-Nations, not surprisingly, head the list of matches played:

Team Played Won Drawn Lost
New Zealand 129 109 1 19
Australia 129 77 2 50
South Africa 126 79 1 46
Wales 126 55 3 68
France 123 78 2 43
Ireland 118 73 1 44
England 118 69 1 48
Italy 110 32 1 77
Scotland 107 43 1 63

Thirteen players have appeared in ninety or more Tests in the past decade:

R J R O'Gara (Ireland/Lions) - 103
V Matfield (SA) - 103
R H McCaw (NZ) - 101
B G O'Driscoll (Ireland/Lions) - 100
J M Muliaina (NZ) - 100
N C Sharpe (Australia) - 100
G B Smith (Australia) - 96
S M Jones (Wales/Lions) - 95
C D Paterson (Scotland) - 94
M J Giteau (Australia) - 92
K F Mealamu (NZ) - 92
J J Hayes (Ireland/Lions) - 91
J W Smit (SA) - 91

Who was the first Springbok rugby player to score a five-point try?Gary Niemand, United States

The value of the try was upgraded to five points during the southern hemisphere season of 1992, the year in which the first Springbok matches of the post-apartheid era took place.

South Africa's return was on 15th August, 1992, against New Zealand, losing 27-24 at Ellis Park, Johannesburg. The honour of scoring their first try of the new era - and the first valued at five points - went to their veteran centre, Danie Gerber. He crossed after 65 minutes to launch a Springbok comeback that included two further converted tries (another by Gerber and one by Pieter Müller).

Is there anyone else apart from Doug Howlett and Rod Kafer who has won both a Super Rugby title and a Heineken Cup title in his playing career? Kate Lorimer, Australia

Not yet. Rod Kafer won the Super 12 with ACT Brumbies in 2001 before getting his hands on the Heineken Cup with Leicester in 2002 - the only player to achieve the feat in a year.

Doug Howlett won the Super 12 with the Auckland Blues in 2003 and was in the Munster side that lifted the Heineken Cup in 2008.

Scott Hamilton nearly became the third member of this group when he played for Leicester in the 2009 Heineken Cup Final. He had been a member of the Crusaders team that won the 2008 Super 14 Final against the Waratahs before joining the Tigers on a two-year contract at the beginning of the 2008-09 season. He scored a try in Leicester's semi-final win against Cardiff Blues but his side were beaten 19-16 by Leinster in the Murrayfield Final.

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