Cricket and tennis stars, SH tours by the Home Unions and early tourists in France
July 4, 2011
New Zealand's Eric Tindill - uniquely for a dual Test player - later refereed and umpired Test rugby and cricket. © Getty Images
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 Test rugby players who excelled at cricket and tennis, Home Unions in the southern hemisphere and early tourists in France while also offering an update England's overseas-born players.
I looked through the previous items about cross code players and did not see Jeff Wilson Cricket/Rugby/Age grade Basketball. Brian McKechnie Rugby/Cricket (who faced the under-arm ball) or Martin Donnelly who played Rugby/Cricket to Test level. Nick, New Zealand
The cross-code focus was on those who had excelled at the alternative forms of football to rugby - soccer, Gaelic, gridiron and Aussie Rules.
Extending the skill-base to cricket at Test level (for the Five Nations and Tri-Nations) produces a long list of famous names (though neither McKechnie nor Wilson actually won Test cricket honours for New Zealand).
The following Five Nations/Tri-Nations rugby players were dual (rugby/cricket) Test players:
* Otto Nothling played rugby in the 1920s when New South Wales was the only Australian state playing rugby union. Their international matches (as the "Waratahs") between 1921 and 1928 against SA, NZ and the Five Nations were subsequently raised to full Test status by the Australian Rugby Union. In Test cricket Nothling is remembered as the man who displaced Don Bradman from the 1928-29 Australian team during their Test series against England.
The New Zealanders do not regard their rugby matches against NSW in the 1920s as warranting Test status, otherwise two further Test cricketers would be included in the list of dual Test honours: George Dickinson, who played centre against the 1922 Waratahs as a teenager, and M L "Curly" Page who appeared at scrum-half once against NSW in 1928.
Herbert Castens played Test rugby for South Africa (as captain) against the 1891 Lions and was captain for their first cricket tour to England in 1894. The tourists' games, however, did not carry first-class status and no Tests were played. Alan Walker, who played in five rugby Tests for the Wallabies between 1947 and 1950, toured South Africa with the 1949-50 Australian Test cricketers but didn't manage a Test match appearance.
Two famous Home Unions rugby players - John Daniell (England) and Wilf Wooller (Wales) were later England Test cricket selectors, while New Zealand's Eric Tindill - uniquely for a dual Test player - later refereed/umpired Test rugby/cricket.
I know that J P R Williams was a noted tennis player in his youth, but has any international rugby player won a senior Wimbledon title? Anon, Wales
Two men have played Test rugby and won a Wimbledon senior title. The first was Dr Frank Stoker. He won five Ireland rugby caps between 1886 and 1891 and won the Men's Doubles titles at Wimbledon in 1890 and 1893. Another Irish rugby international, James C Parke, was a regular British Davis Cup player between 1908 and 1920 and won the Mixed Doubles title at Wimbledon in 1914.
Sir Carl Aarvold, an England and Lions international between the wars, was the President of the Lawn Tennis Association between 1962 and 1981. Jean Gachassin, the famous French utility back of the 1960s, has been President of the French Lawn Tennis Federation since 2009.
None of the Four Home Unions (or Lions) will undertake Tests in the southern hemisphere in May, June, July or August. When was the last time that happened during a British/Irish summer? Graham, England
In the 50 years since 1961 only two years have been barren summers for Home Unions Tests in the southern hemisphere: 1965 and 1973.
England visited New Zealand in September of 1973 (after their projected tour of Argentina had to be cancelled and the visit Down Under was hastily arranged).
All four Home Unions of course will be there for the Rugby World Cup this September.
The Southern Hemisphere sides famously used to undertake months long tours of the UK and France. The results against British/Irish clubs and provinces are fairly well documented. However, do you have their results against the French selections/clubs which they faced? Dan S, England
It's a long list but up to 1968, when South Africa became the first major tour side to undertake a visit to France without visiting Britain/Ireland, the results for the Tri-Nations on tours to France were as follows:
1906 - All Blacks: W 38-8 v FRANCE
(to be continued)
One foreign-born 'Englishman' you forgot in your list is Phil Christophers born in Heidelberg and lived in Germany until he was 16. English dad and German mother. Dick Pearson, England
This brings to 99 the number of players capped by England who were born outside the British/Irish Isles. The updated list reads:
Born in Africa (mostly in SA): Adedayo Adebayo; Stuart Abbott; Nick Abendanon; Geoff Appleford; Clive Ashby; Brian Black; Freddie Brooks; Mike Catt; James Davey; Noel Estcourt; Tim Francis; Hendre Fourie; HD "Trilby" Freakes; Reg Hands; Andrew Harriman; Stan Harris; Murray Hofmeyr; John Hopley; Mike Horak; Andy Hurst; Bob Kennedy; Jan Krige; Nick Labuschagne; Ron Lagden; Frank Mellish; JG "Jumbo" Milton; Cecil Milton; Sid Newman; Ossie Newton-Thompson; Steve Ojomoh; HG "Tuppy" Owen-Smith; Simon Shaw; Harry Small; Matt Stevens; WB Thomson; Victor Ubogu; Clive van Ryneveld; Fraser Waters; Steve White-Cooper; Rupert Williamson; DS "Tug" Wilson
Born NZ: Alan Adams; Ian Botting; Martin Donnelly; Ernest Fookes; Ricki Flutey; Perry Freshwater; Shontayne Hape; Dylan Hartley; Alex Palmer; Ernest Parsons; Henry Paul; Mark van Gisbergen
Born Tonga: Lesley Vainikolo
Born Australia: LG "Bruno" Brown; Lyndhurst Giblin; David Paice; Garnet Portus; Frank Scott; BH "Jika" Travers; Gregory Wade; Larry Webb; S M J "Sammy" Woods
Born India: John Batten; James Bush; Charles Cleveland; William Collins; Stanley Considine; Harold Day; Arthur Fagan; Evan Hardy; Robert Henderson; Philip Jacob; Nick Jeavons; D'Oyly Lyon; Maurice McCanlis; Norman McLeod; Frank Malir; Richard Sharp; SR "Steve" Smith; Arthur Young
Born Pakistan: Chris Butcher
Born Ceylon: William Leake
Born Malaysia: Tony Underwood
Born Hong Kong: Ron Gerrard; Jamie Salmon
Born China: Jeff Reynolds
Born USA: Alex Corbisiero ; Eddie Myers
Born Canada: Pat Sykes
Born W Indies: Delon Armitage; Steffon Armitage
Born Belgium: John Raphael
Born Germany: Paul Ackford; Phil Christophers
Born Russia: Alex Obolensky
Born Argentina: Barry Holmes
Born Malta: David A Cooke
Born Canary Islands: Douglas Baker
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"Some people have it from day one and Brian did." Tom Hamilton talks to the two players who made their Ireland debuts alongside Brian O'Driscoll back in June 1999
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column