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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
Super Rugby caps, the Barbarians' centenary and England's oldest living international
John Griffiths
March 1, 2010

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 Super Rugby caps, the Barbarians' centenary and England's oldest living international.

Who has made most appearances in the Super 12/14 competition? Graham, London

Before this season's Super 14 kicked-off in February, the leading cap-winners were as follows:

George Gregan 136 (1996-2007, Brumbies)
Caleb Ralph 135 (1997, Chiefs [3]; 1998, Blues [6]; 1999-2008, Crusaders [126]
Reuben Thorne 129 (1997-2008, Crusaders)

Caleb Ralph's record includes a run of 103 successive games for the Crusaders between 1999 and 2006. Of the current players the leading cap-holders before the season started were George Smith on 121, Nathan Sharpe on 120 and Stirling Mortlock on 118.

Are you able to provide details of the different Barbarians starting XVs for the matches that they played in their 1990/91 centenary season? Tim Skepper, England

The Barbarians played nine matches in their Centenary season in 1990-91. In addition to their then traditional domestic fixtures (against Cardiff, Swansea and Newport in Wales and East Midlands and Leicester in England), there were special games against an England XV, Wales (who honoured the fixture by awarding caps to their players), Argentina and Bradford & Bingley (the club was founded in Bradford in April in 1890).

The club was also a guest at both the Lisbon and Hong Kong Sevens that season. Details of their results and a register of players for the season follow. (Starting line-ups can be reconstituted from the register).

Barbarians Results 1990-91

June 2-3 1990 - Lisbon Sevens: Barbarians 28, Agronomica 6; Barbarians 48, Benfica 4; Barbarians 32, Wolverines 6; Barbarians 28, Cascais 10; Barbarians 28, Gloucester 18; Barbarians 12, Cambridge U 30
September 29 - Lost to England at Twickenham 16-18
October 2 - Beat Bradford & Bingley at Bradford 52-7
October 6 - Beat Wales at Cardiff Arms Park 31-24
October 30 - Lost to Newport at Rodney Parade, Newport 6-43
November 17 - Beat Argentina at Cardiff Arms Park 34-22
December 27 - Beat Leicester at Welford Road, Leicester 26-21
March 6 1991 - Beat East Midlands at Franklins Gardens, Northampton 46-34
March 23-24 - Hong Kong Sevens: Barbarians 18, Germany 6; Barbarians 34, Korea 0; Barbarians 16, Australia 6; Barbarians 14, Fiji 22 (in semi-final)
March 30 - Beat Cardiff at Cardiff Arms Park 42-25
April 1 - Lost to Swansea at St Helen's Ground 31-33

Barbarians Register of Players 1990-91

Key: LS - Lisbon Sevens; E - England; BB - Bradford & Bingley; W- Wales; N - Newport; A - Argentina; L - Leicester; EM - East Midlands; HK - Hong Kong Sevens; SW1 - Cardiff; SW2 - Swansea; (R) - Replacement

Fullbacks: K J Murphy (Cork Const & Ireland) [E, EM], P W Dods (Gala & Scotland) [BB], D I Campese (Randwick & Australia) [W, E on wing], G H Davies (Wasps & England) [N], S D Hodgkinson (Nottingham & England) [A], J-B Lafond (Racing Club de France & France) [E on wing, L, SW2, W on wing], A G Hastings (Watsonians & Scotland) [SW1]

Three-quarters: J Fallon (Richmond) [LS], W L Renwick (London Scottish) [LS], M H Titley (Swansea & Wales) [LS, BB], S E Thresher (Harlequins) [LS], J T Stanley (Ponsonby & New Zealand) [E, W], D Charvet (Racing Club de France & France) [E], M E Harrison (Wakefield & England) [BB], G Champion (Devon & Cornwall Police) [BB], R A Bidgood (Newport & Wales) [BB], J C Guscott (Bath & England) [W, L HK], P Saint André (Montferrand & France) [W], S T Hackney (Nottingham) [N], V J G Cunningham (St Mary's College & Ireland) [N], S Davies (Llanelli) [N], I Tukalo [Selkirk & Scotland) [N], I C Evans (Llanelli & Wales) [A], M G Ring (Cardiff & Wales)[A, EM], C R Innes (Marist & New Zealand) [A], K D Crossan (Instonians & Ireland) [A], A E Emyr (Swansea & Wales) [L], F Mesnel (Racing Club de France & France) [L], N J Heslop (Orrell & England) [L], A T Harriman (Harlequins & England) [EM, HK], W Reichwald (Sheffield) [EM], E Davis (Harlequins) [EM], T Underwood (Leicester) [HK, SW1], W D C Carling (Harlequins & England) [HK], I Hunter (Northampton) [HK, SW1], S Hastings (Watsonians & Scotland) [SWI], D M Curtis (London Irish & Ireland) [SW1], M Wyatt (Velox Vancouver & Canada) [SWI(R), SW2 at fly-half], M R Hall (Cardiff & Wales) [SW2], D W Evans (Cardiff & Wales) [SW2, EM at fly-half], K Higgins (Old Blues & USA) [SW2], A J Donovan (Cardiff & Wales) [SW2]

Half-backs: R H Q B (Richard) Moon (Rosslyn Park [LS, L(R)], C J Stephens (Llanelli) [LS], M P Lynagh (University, Brisbane & Australia) [E], N C Farr-Jones (Sydney University & Australia) [E, W], C M Chalmers (Melrose & Scotland) [BB, A, SW1], E F Gomez (Banco Nacion & Argentina) [BB], S Barnes (Bath & England) [W], B A Smith (Leicester & Australia & Ireland) [N], R N Jones (Swansea & Wales) [N, A], C R Andrew (Wasps & England) [L], R J Hill (Bath & England) [L], R H StJ B (Rupert) Moon (Llanelli) [EM, HK], R Saunders (London Irish & Ireland) [SW1], A Hueber (Lourdes & France) [SW2]

Forwards: D W Egerton (Bath & England) [LS], R E Paxton (Kelso & Scotland) [LS], T Hyde (Rosslyn Park) [LS], C E Hillman (Bridgend, South Wales Police) [LS, BB, SW2], R W Loe (Fraser Tech & New Zealand) [E, W], I J Watkins (Cardiff & Wales) [E], A P Burnell (London Scottish & Scotland) [E, EM, SW1], I D Jones (Kamo & New Zealand) [E, W, A], S A G Cutler (Gordon & Australia) [E, W], K Janik (Toulouse & France) [E], P T Davies (Llanelli & Wales) [E, A], E J Rush (Otahuhu) [E, W], N A Back (Leicester) [E(R), HK, SW1], D V Southern (Orrell) [BB], M S Linnett (Moseley & England) [BB], N C Redman (Bath & England) [BB], W A Anderson (Dungannon & Ireland) [BB, N], S Hodgson (Sale) [BB], G R Marshall (Selkirk & Scotland) [BB], I Smith (Leicester) [BB], J M Wells (Leicester) [BB(R)], P A G Rendall (Wasps & England) [W], S J Smith (Ballymena & Ireland) [W], M C Teague (Gloucester & England) [W], D Erbani (Agen & France) [W], I M Buckett (Swansea) [N, L], R G R Dawe (Bath & England) [N], R Lee (Bath) [N], M J Galwey (Shannon) [N], H Taylor (Newbridge) [N], O L Williams (Bridgend) [N], R E Webster (Swansea & Wales) [N, A], L Hullena (Petone) [A], T J Kingston (Dolphin & Ireland) [A], P Knight (Pontypridd & Wales) [A], C A Gray (Nottingham & Scotland) [A, L], G W Rees (Nottingham & England) [A], D Fox (Llanelli) [L], G S Pearce (Northampton & England) [L], P Arnold (Swansea & Wales) [L, EM], R J Pool-Jones (Cambridge University) [L, SW1, SW2(R)], D B White (London Scottish & Scotland) [L, SW2], R A Robinson (Bath & England) [L], J J Fitzgerald (Young Munster & Ireland) [EM], J O'Riordan (Cork Constitution) [EM], R Kimmins (Orrell) [EM], A J Carter (Newport & Wales) [EM], P T J O'Hara (Sunday's Well & Ireland) [EM], B B Clarke (Saracens) [EM], M G Skinner (Harlequins & England) [HK], C M A Sheasby (Cambridge University & Harlequins) [HK, SW1], D M B Sole (Edinburgh Academicals & Scotland) [SW1], A Simmons (Wasps) [SW1], S Dear (Rosslyn Park) [SW1, SW2], D F Cronin (Bath & Scotland) [SW1], M Griffiths (Cardiff & Wales) [SW2], P Edwards (Cardiff) [SW2], S T O'Leary (Wasps) [SW2], G M George (Newport) [SW2], L Cabannes (Racing Club de France & France) [SW2], K Waters (Newbridge) [SW2(R)]

It will be noted that Ben Clarke, Rupert Moon, Hemi Taylor, Neil Back, Mick Galwey and Chris Sheasby (among others) were Barbarians before winning full caps for their countries.

My grandfather played in a match between RAF Locking and Bath (at The Rec) in 1941 or 1942 and we believe that the RAF team contained two Welsh internationals. The names we have for these players are W.H. Davies and I. Davies. Do you have any information on these two players (clubs, number of caps)? Apparently RAF Locking won that particular match in front of a full house. Adam Joy, England

RAF XVs (and Army XVs and New Zealand Forces sides) were regular visitors to Bath during the wartime seasons and invariably attracted large crowds.

In 1941-42, Bath hosted RAF sides six times as follows;

1941
October 25 Bath 26, RAF XV 14
1942
January 10 Bath 24, RAF XV 5
February 7 Bath 30, RAF XV 6
March 14 Bath 30, RAF XV 6
March 21 Bath 13, RAF XV 11
April 11 Bath 5, RAF XV 6

There were eleven matches at Bath the following season:

1942
November 7 Bath 27, RAF XV 3
November 21 Bath 3, RAF XV 0
November 28 Bath 3, RAF XV 6
December 12 Bath 0, RAF XV 8
December 26 Bath 25, RAF XV 0
1943
January 23 Bath13, RAF XV 10
February 20 Bath 40, RAF XV 0
February 27 Bath 3, RAF XV 12
April 3 Bath 50, RAF XV 10
April 10 Bath 18, RAF XV 6
April 17 Bath 14, RAF XV 5

The Welsh international players in the game referred to in your question were probably Willie (W T H) Davies and Idwal (D I) Davies who were both sergeants in the RAF during the middle stages of World War II.

Willie Davies made his name in first-class rugby as a teenager partnering his cousin, Haydn Tanner, for Swansea in 1935 when they became the first club side to defeat a touring All Blacks side (11-3). Davies made his Welsh debut as an emergency centre in 1936 against Ireland, when Wales won 3-0 to secure the International Championship title. All told he won six caps for Wales between 1936 and 1939, mostly at fly-half. In his last match, against Ireland in Belfast in 1939, he scored all of his side's points (a try and drop-goal) in the 7-0 win that gave a Wales a share of the 1939 Championship spoils.

In August 1939 he joined Bradford Northern rugby league and after the war had a very successful league career.

Idwal Davies won his only Welsh cap whilst playing for Swansea and London Welsh in January 1939. A centre, he joined Leeds rugby league later the same month. His son, Brian Davies, played in the centre for Wales three times in 1962-1963.

Willie and Idwal were both schoolmasters. During the war, the rule preventing league players from returning to union was lifted for those on active service.

I was hoping you could tell me who the oldest living England international is. I've looked into it a bit myself, and it seems to me that Harry Walker is, but I was wondering if you knew better? Jane Shaw, England

Several enquiries have been received along these lines in recent months. E B Pope is thought to be the senior surviving England player.

Brian Pope was England's scrum-half in the 1931 Five Nations tournament, winning three caps as a teenager against Wales, Scotland and France. Now in his 99th year, he was born on June 29, 1911. Harry Walker was born in 1915.

Who has played most Tests without scoring any points? Chris, England

Among the nations ranked in the IRB's top 18, Italy prop Salvatore Perugini, who played his 69th Test on Saturday against Scotland, still hasn't troubled the scorers in an international match. No player has appeared in more Tests among the highest-performing nations without registering a score.

Italy have completed ten seasons in the Six Nations International Championship. How does their record compare with France's first ten seasons in the old Five Nations Championship? Anon

France joined in 1910 and Italy in 2000. Their comparative finishing records for their first ten seasons were as follows:

France

1910 - Last, no wins
1911 - Fourth, one win (v Scotland)
1912 - Last, no wins
1913 - Last, no wins
1914 - Void, no wins but did not play Scotland
1920 - Last, one win (v Ireland)
1921 - Joint second, two wins (v Scotland and Ireland)
1922 - Fourth, two draws (v Scotland and England)
1923 - Joint last, one win (v Ireland)
1924 - Joint last, one win (v Scotland)

Italy

2000 - Last, one win (v Scotland)
2001 - Last, no wins
2002 - Last, no wins
2003 - Fifth, one win (v Wales)
2004 - Fifth, one win (v Scotland)
2005 - Last, no wins
2006 - Last, one draw (v Wales)
2007 - Fourth, two wins (v Scotland and Wales)
2008 - Last, one win (v Scotland)
2009 - Last, no wins

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