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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
Heineken Cup-winning Welshmen, Oxford caps who missed their Blue and All Blacks versus All Blacks
John Griffiths
December 21, 2009

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 answers questions on Welsh players who have won Europe's top prize, Oxford caps who failed to win a blue, Joe Rokocoko's recent Barbarians appearance and two recent deaths.

How many Welshmen have won the Heineken Cup and who are they? Alun David, Wales
Although no Welsh club/region has yet lifted the Heineken Cup, there are eight Welshmen who possess a coveted winner's medal:

Allan Bateman, 2000, Northampton
Ieuan Evans, 1998, Bath
Rob Howley, 2004, Wasps
Andy Newman, 2000, Northampton
Tony Rees, 1997, Brive
Gareth Thomas, 2005, Toulouse
Nathan Thomas, 1998, Bath
Richard Webster, 1998, Bath

Newman and Rees are the only uncapped players in the list. Rees, the first Welshman to gain a Heineken winner's medal, made his appearance as a 67th-minute replacement.

Can you tell me how many rugby internationals won a cap before they gained their blue at Oxford? One was Donald M White who played centre for Scotland in about 1963. Are there many others? I discount the likes of more recent Australasian players playing in the Varsity match at the end of their careers. George Cockburn England
Donald White won four caps as a teenage centre for Scotland in their bid for honours in the 1963 Five Nations Championship. His last international appearance was in the Calcutta Cup match at Twickenham when Richard Sharp dummied his way through the Scottish defence for a famous try in England's 10-8 victory. England thus pipped Scotland to the title.

White had gone up to Oxford in October 1962 with a glowing reputation in schoolboy rugby from Glenalmond, but despite promising performances for Oxford in his first term at St John's he narrowly failed to gain his Blue in the Varsity Match of December 1962.

He does not in fact belong to the list of players capped before winning Blues at Oxbridge, for White never won an Oxford Blue. Although he toured Africa with the Combined Oxford & Cambridge side in 1963, injuries ruled him out of contention for a Blue during his subsequent years in residence. Donald White was the 35th player in the cohort of Oxford internationalists who in their playing days failed to win a Blue.

Oxford caps who have failed to gain a blue:

L E Barrington-Ward, Worcester, England
T Batson, Lincoln, England
C A Bolton, New, England
C W Boyle, University, England
H Brougham, Brasenose, England
C E Chapman, Worcester, England
E C Cheston, Merton , England
W J Cullen, Pembroke, Ireland
G Darbishire, Balliol, Wales
A Davenport, Balliol, England
J A Davies, Jesus, Wales
M J Davies*, Trinity, Wales
J C Dawson*, Queen's, Scotland
E W Dillon, University, England
J M Dugdale, Brasenose, England
W F Evans, Jesus, Wales
F Evershed, University, England
H Freeman, Oriel, England
N Gibbs, Worcester, England
A S Gibson, Trinity, England
C O P Gibson, Christ Church, England
T M Hart, Brasenose, Scotland
H M Ingledew, Merton, Wales
C P Lewis, Jesus, Wales
J C Marshall, Brasenose, Scotland
E Peake, Oriel, Wales
G V Portus, New, England
B W Redwood **, Worcester, England
T A Rees, Jesus, Wales
J L Reid, Brasenose, Ireland
D E A Roberts , University, Wales
D G Schulze, Merton , Scotland
E K Scott*, Lincoln, England
D M White, St John's, Scotland
E T Young, Magdalen, Scotland


* indicates player appeared in the unofficial war-time series of Oxford-Cambridge matches.
** indicates player was capped after White but was in residence at Oxford before him.

W E Collins (England 1874-76) is sometimes listed as an Oxford international who never won a Blue, but he does not appear to have been in residence at the University. Cambridge have had a similar number of international players who missed out on a Blue, with Malcolm Young arguably the most interesting example of this kind between Donald White's era and today. Young, who won ten caps for England at scrum-half between 1977 and 1979, had earlier won a Cambridge soccer Blue.

Joe Rokocoko played against the All Blacks for the Barbarians. Has any other player ever played for and against the All Blacks in the same season? Caleb Borchers United States
The experience of playing both for and against the All Blacks is surprisingly common, there being 112 instances between 1884 and 1939. Many of those did so in the same season, though relatively few have achieved the feat in the past 70 years.

The first players to appear for and against the team were Ned Davey and Edward Millton in 1884, the first season that New Zealand placed a national side in the field. They played for A Wellington XV against New Zealand in May of that year before sailing with the national side to Australia in the first-ever rugby tour undertaken by New Zealand.

The first All Black to achieve the feat by playing against New Zealand in the northern hemisphere was Bunny Abbott of the 1905-06 Originals. He turned out for British Columbia in their match against the New Zealanders (played at San Francisco) on February 13th, 1906. In recent times Sitiveni Sivivatu played a Test against the All Blacks in 2004, for the Pacific Islanders, winning his first All Black cap in 2005 against Fiji. Joe Rokocoko is the fourth All Black to play for the Barbarians against New Zealand.

Players who played for the Barbarians against New Zealand in the same season as winning an All Black cap:

1964 Ian Clarke
2004 Justin Marshall and Xavier Rush
2009 Joe Rokocoko

Could Munster's Lifeimi Mafi play for Ireland in the same way Flutey has qualified for England? Duncan Gleadhill, Ireland
According to the IRB regulations, a player who has played for the senior fifteen-a-side National Representative Team or the next senior fifteen-a-side National Representative Team ('A') or the senior National Representative Sevens Team of a Union is not eligible to play for the corresponding teams of another Union.

Lifeimi Mafi represented New Zealand in eight major Sevens tournaments between 2003 and 2005 while he was a Manawatu (and later Taranaki) player before joining Munster soon afterwards. He is therefore ineligible to play senior international rugby for anyone except New Zealand.

The tributes to Wales's Horace Phillips, who died earlier this month, stated that his only cap was in a Grand Slam-clinching side? Have any other Welshmen won their sole caps in matches which sealed a Grand Slam? Anon
Horace Phillips died in Mumbles on December 11, aged 81. His only cap was against France on his home club ground at St Helen's in Swansea in 1952. Wales won a dour match 9-5 to take the Grand Slam for the fifth time.

Wales originally selected en bloc the side that had beaten Ireland to clinch the Triple Crown for that Grand Slam game, but a calf-muscle injury forced Cliff Morgan to withdraw in the week before the match. In a back-line reshuffle, the selectors moved Alun Thomas from centre to fly-half, Lewis Jones transferred from left wing to centre and Horace Phillips filled the vacancy on the wing.

Only two other Welshmen won their sole caps in Grand Slam clinchers. In 1911, when Wales beat Ireland 16-0 at Cardiff, forward Billy Evans of Brynmawr was called in when Pontypool's Rees Thomas withdrew from the side owing to bereavement. And in 1976, Cardiff's Mike Knill came on as a front-row replacement for Pontypool's Graham Price in the 19-13 Grand Slam win against France at Cardiff.

Obituaries for John Moroney, the former Ireland wing, mentioned that he set a scoring record against France in 1969. Whose record did he eclipse? Anon
John Moroney died in Waterford Hospital on December 11, aged 64. He won six successive caps for Ireland in 1968 and 1969 and wasn't on a losing side until his final game.

He made headlines in Ireland's opening Five Nations match of 1969 when he scored 14 points comprising a three-point try, conversion and three penalty goals in a 17-9 defeat of France to set a new individual record for most points in a Test for Ireland. It was their first win against the French for ten years.

The previous Irish record had been set by George Stephenson playing against Wales at Lansdowne Road in 1927. His tally of 13 points had been equalled by Barney Mullan in Ireland's 22-0 win against England, also in Dublin, in 1947.

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