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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
Playing in a RWC and Cricket World Cup the same year, the Super Series, tourists in France and HK7s
John Griffiths
July 20, 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 a Namibian player who played in a rugby and cricket World Cup the same year, the Super Series, tourists in France and club sides at the Hong Kong Sevens.

Wasn't there a Namibian guy who played in both the rugby and cricket world cups in 2003? Ross Smith, Australia

Yes there was. He was Dr Rudi van Vuuren who appeared as a replacement outside-half for Namibia in their game at Launceston, Tasmania, against Romania in the 2003 RWC.

Earlier the same year he had played for Namibia in the Cricket World Cup taking 5-43 in their pool match against England.

Do you have any details relating to the Super Series before it became Super 12 in the professional era in 1996? Graham, England

The tournament began in 1986 when Canterbury, Auckland and Wellington from New Zealand, Queensland and New South Wales from Australia, and Fiji featured in an early-season competition known as the South Pacific Championship.

The tournament ran on similar lines to the subsequent Super 12s and Super 14s except that there was no knockout stage after the round-robin of league games. The teams played home/away in alternate seasons (like the Six Nations Championship in Europe) and the side with most tournament points was declared champion.

The same six sides contested each of the first six championships. The winners were:

1986 - Canterbury
1987 - Canterbury
1988 - Auckland
1989 - Auckland
1990 - Auckland

Auckland featured many of the outstanding World Cup-winning 1987 All Blacks, including Sean Fitzpatrick and Grant Fox.The tournament was suspended in 1991 but was re-launched as the Super Six (with the same sides and adhering to the same format) in 1992 when, for the first time, New Zealand's stranglehold was broken by Queensland.

In 1993 the format was expanded to embrace sides from South Africa taking the number of teams involved to ten. The teams in the Super Tens were divided into two pools of five with the winners from each pool contesting a grand final.

The pool details and grand finals results were as follows (pool winners in bold):

1993
Pool A: Auckland, Natal, Western Samoa, Queensland and Otago
Pool B: Transvaal, New South Wales, N Transvaal, North Harbour and Waikato
FINAL: Transvaal 20-17 Auckland played in Johannesburg

1994
Pool A: Queensland, North Harbour, Otago, Transvaal and E Province
Pool B: Natal, New South Wales, Western Samoa, Auckland and Waikato
FINAL: Queensland 21-10 Natal played in Durban

1995
Pool A: Transvaal, New South Wales, W Province, Otago and North Harbour
Pool B: Queensland, Free State, Auckland, Canterbury and Tonga
FINAL: Queensland 30-16 Transvaal played in Johannesburg

The professional Super 12 began in 1996.

…. And do you have the details of the teams that lined up for the Grand Finals? Graham, England

May 22, 1993 - Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Transvaal 20 (1G 1PG 2T) Auckland 17 (2G 1PG)

Transvaal: T van Rensburg; P Hendriks, J Mulder, B Fourie, C Dirks; H le Roux, J Roux; B Swart, U Schmidt, J le Roux, K Wiese, H Strydom, J McDonald, D Lotter, F Pienaar (captain) Scorers: Tries Schmidt (2), Pienaar Conversion Van Rensburg Penalty Goal Van Rensburg

Auckland: S Howarth; V Tuigamala, L Stensness, E Clarke, T Wright; G Fox, T Nu'ualita; C Dowd, S Fitzpatrick (captain), O Brown, R Fromont, R Brooke, B Jackson, M Jones, M Carter Scorers: Tries Stensness, Tuigamala Conversions Fox (2) Penalty Goal Fox

Referee - F Burger (South Africa)


May 14, 1994 - King's Park, Durban
Natal 10 (1G 1PG) Queensland 21 (1G 2PG 1DG 1T)

Natal: A Joubert; C van der Westhuizen, J Thomson, P Muller (rep A Marinos), J Small; H Honiball, R du Preez; G Kebble, J Allan, A Garvey, J Slade, S Atherton, W Bartmann (captain), G Teichmann, A Blakeway Scorers: Try Van der Westhuizen Conversion Joubert Penalty Goal Joubert

Queensland: M Pini; D Smith, J Little (rep P Carozza), T Horan (rep A Herbert), B Lea; M Lynagh, P Slattery (captain); C Lillicrap, M Foley, A Skeggs, R McCall, G Morgan, I Tabua (rep J Eales), S Scott-Young, D Wilson Scorers: Tries Scott-Young, Lea Conversion Lynagh Penalty Goals Lynagh (2) Dropped Goal Lynagh

Referee - G Wahlstrom (New Zealand)


April 8, 1995 - Ellis Park, Johannesburg
Transvaal 16 (1G 3DG) Queensland 30 (2G 1PG 1DG 2T)

Transvaal: G Johnson; J van der Walt, C Scholtz (rep J Mulder), H le Roux, P Hendriks; J de Beer, J Roux; B Swart, Chris Rossouw, I Hattingh, K Wiese, H Strydom, G Combrinck, Charles Rossouw, R Straeuli (captain) Scorers: Try Roux Conversion De Beer Dropped Goals De Beer (3)

Queensland: M Pini; D Smith, J Little, D Herbert, P Carozza; P Kahl, P Slattery (captain) (rep B Johnstone); D Crowley (temp rep M Ryan), M Foley (temp rep D Barrett), A Blades, R McCall, J Eales, I Tabua, T Coker (rep M Connors), D Wilson Scorers: Tries Connors, Johnstone, Little, Smith Conversions Eales (2) Penalty Goal Eales Dropped Goal Kahl

Referee - P O'Brien (New Zealand)

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

The details up to 1968, when South Africa became the first major tour side to undertake a visit to France without visiting Britain/Ireland, were given in the last column a fortnight ago. The results for the Tri-Nations on tours to France between 1968 and 1990 were as follows:

1971 Wallabies W 28-12 v French Selection; L 9-16 v French Selection; L 6-7 v French Selection; W 12-3 v French Selection; W 20-9 v French Selection; W 13-11 v FRANCE; L 13-25 v French Selection; L 9- 18 v FRANCE
1973 All Blacks W 12-3 v French Selection; W 23-8 v France B; W 6-3 v French Selection; L 6-13 v FRANCE
1974 Springboks W 10-7 v French Selection; W 25-12 v French Selection; W 16-3 v French Selection; W 36-4 v Second Division XV; W 29-10 v French Selection; W 13-4 v FRANCE; L 4-7 v French Selection; W 10-8 v FRANCE; W 27-19 v French Selection;
1976 Wallabies W 17-15 v French Selection; L 13-15 v French Selection; L 6-10 v French Selection; W 15-9 v French Selection; L 7-16 v French Selection; L 15-18 v FRANCE; W 12-6 v French Selection; L 6-34 v FRANCE; L 7-25 v French Selection
1977 All Blacks W 45-3 v French Selection; W 12-10 v French Selection; W 12-6 v French Selection; W 34-12 v French Selection; W 38-22 v French Selection; L 13-18 v FRANCE; W 30-3 v French Selection; W 15- 3 v FRANCE
1981 All Blacks W 15-13 v French Selection; W 18-10 v French Selection; L 16-18 v French Selection; W 28-18 v French Barbarians; D 6-6 v French Selection; W 13-9 v FRANCE; W 17-13 v French Selection; W 18-6 v FRANCE
1983 Wallabies W 18-16 v French Selection; D 15-15 v French Police; W 27-7 v French Selection; L 9-15 v French Selection; L 6-36 v French Selection; D 15-15 v FRANCE; W 16-10 v French Army; L 6-15 v FRANCE; W 23-21 v French Barbarians
1986 All Blacks W 42-12 v French Selection; W 23-19 v French Selection; W 25-6 v French Selection; W 59-6 v French Selection; W 21-9 v French Selection; W 19-7 v FRANCE; W 26-12 v French Barbarians; L 3-16 v FRANCE
1989 Wallabies W 30-22 v French Selection; L 10-19 v French Selection; W 22-10 v French Selection; L 7-9 v French Selection; L 10-19 v French Selection; W 32-15 v FRANCE; L 19-21 v French Selection; L 19- 25 v FRANCE
1990 All Blacks L 15-19 v French Selection; W 22-6 v French Selection; W 27-24 v French Selection; W 23-13 v French Barbarians; L 12-18 v French Selection; W 24-3 v FRANCE; W 22-15 v France A; W 30-12 v FRANCE

(to be concluded)

As a kid I remember my father telling my about how New Zealand used to send the team that won the national provincial sevens to the Hong Kong Sevens each year. When was the last time a club or provincial team was sent to play in Hong Kong and did any of these teams win overall? Nick, New Zealand

The Hong Kong Sevens began in 1976. The tournament has been won by non-international sides twice: in 1976 (when Cantabrians from New Zealand were the victors) and in 1981 when the Barbarians carried off the title.

The tournament has been the premier event of the annual IRB International Sevens series since 2000 and was the venue for the 1997 Rugby Sevens World Cup.

The last time an invitation (ie non-international) side played was in 1994 when the Hong Kong President's VII reached the quarter-finals of the main Cup competition.

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