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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
French finals, uncapped Welsh Lions, Manchester Tests and goal-kicking forwards
John Griffiths
June 8, 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 doles out the facts on French Championship finals, uncapped Welsh Lions, Manchester Test matches and goal-kicking forwards.

Can you tell me if any Australian players have been involved in the winning side in the French Championship? Teejay Haar, Australia

None to date, though two have played for losing finalists. Manny Edmonds was Perpignan's fly-half in the 2004 Final when the Catalans lost 38-20 to Stade Français and the uncapped Brock James played for Clermont-Auvergne in last Saturday's 22-13 defeat by Perpignan.

How many French Championship Finals have Clermont-Auvergne lost? Anon

The club represents the town of Clermont-Ferrand. Originally there were two towns, Clermont and Montferrand, but they were merged in the 1630s (though each town still has its own mayor and used to have its own rugby club).

Montferrand was the name of the original first division outfit but when the game went open in the mid-1990s the club was re-named Clermont-Ferrand (1996). It reverted to Montferrand (1997 to 2004) and for the past four seasons has been known as ASM Clermont-Auvergne.

They have now featured in ten French Championship Finals and lost them all:

1936 Narbonne 6-3
1937 Vienne 13-7
1970 La Voulte 3-0
1978 Béziers 31-9
1994 Toulouse 22-16
1999 Toulouse 15-11
2001 Toulouse 34-22
2007 Stade Français 23-18
2008 Toulouse 26-20
2009 Perpignan 22-13

I am aware that Delme Thomas was capped for the Lions before Wales. Has this happened to any other Welshmen? Huw Lodwick, Wales

Eleven players have appeared in a Test for the Lions before winning their caps for Wales:

Percy Bush (Cardiff) - Lions 1904, Wales 1905
Elvet Jones (Llanelli) - Lions 1938, Wales 1939
Jack Jones (Pontypool) - Lions 1908*, Wales 1908
Tuan Jones (Pontypool) - Lions 1908*, Wales 1913
Edgar Morgan (Swansea) - Lions 1908*, Wales 1914
Willie Morgan (Cardiff) - Lions 1908*, Wales 1910
Derek Quinnell (Llanelli) - Lions 1971, Wales 1972
Elgan Rees (Neath) - Lions 1977, Wales 1979
Delme Thomas (Llanelli) - Lions 1966, Wales 1966
Tommy Vile (Newport) - Lions 1904, Wales 1908
Brynmor Williams (Cardiff) - Lions 1977, Wales 1978

The Jones boys on the 1908 tour were brothers from Pontypool. Tuan became a doctor, emigrating to Australia and settling in Melbourne where, more than fifty years after his own Test debut, he was a spectator at the opening match of the 1959 Lions tour.

His brother Jack, like Delme Thomas nearly sixty years later, won his Welsh cap against the touring Wallabies in the December after returning from the tour.

* The 1908 visit was an Anglo-Welsh affair, the Scottish and Irish Unions declining support for a tour to New Zealand and Australia.

How many Tests have been staged in Manchester? Anon

Manchester is the second-oldest venue for English international rugby matches. The first seven England home Tests were staged on the Kennington Oval, home of Surrey CCC, between 1872 and 1879. In 1880, the RFU decided to take the international game "on the road" and Manchester's Whalley Range was the stage for that season's Calcutta Cup match.

Last Saturday's game against Argentina was strictly a "home" match for the Pumas. It was also the tenth England cap match in the city, though the only previous Test at Old Trafford was the 25-8 defeat by New Zealand in November 1997.

England's record in Manchester reads: P 10 W 7 D 1 L 2

v Scotland, 1880 at Whalley Range Won 2G 3T to 1G
v Ireland, 1881 at Whalley Range Won 2G 2T to Nil
v Scotland, 1882 at Whalley Range Lost Nil to 2T
v Ireland, 1883 at Whalley Range Won 1G 3T to 1T
v Ireland, 1885 at Whalley Range Won 2T to 1T
v Scotland, 1887 at Whalley Range Drawn 1T each
v Ireland, 1892 at Whalley Range Won 7-0
v Scotland, 1897 at Fallowfield Won 12-3
v N Zealand, 1997 at Old Trafford Lost 8-25
v Argentina, 2009 at Old Trafford Won 37-15

The first six matches were played before scoring by points was introduced.

Who played number 22 for Wales against France in 1998? Carl Dexter, England

April 5th, 1998, was a dark day for Welsh rugby. In the final match of the season's Five Nations, France won 51-0 at Wembley Stadium, Wales's home from home while the Cardiff Arms Park was refurbished. The result stands as Wales's biggest-ever margin of defeat in the International Championship.

Replacements were numbered differently from today. The back replacements wore 16 (back-three cover), 17 (centres/fly-half cover) and 18 (scrum-half) while the forwards on the bench were numbered 19 (back-row), 20 (second-row), 21 (prop) and 22 (hooker). The Welsh #22 against France in 1998 was Jonathan Humphreys, who came on as a replacement hooker for Garin Jenkins after 55 minutes when the score was 39-0.

I was recently watching John Eales nail a wonderful conversion in a classic Bledisloe Cup Test match, and it raised the question of how many forwards have been the regular kickers for their respective international team? Craig, New Zealand

John Eales holds the record for most points scored by a forward in Tests. He accumulated 173 in his 86 appearances for Australia. His points comprised two tries (one valued at four points and the other at five), 31 conversions and 34 penalty goals.

The successful Welsh sides of the early 1970s often turned to lock Allan Martin (long-range) and flanker John Taylor (to swing the ball in with his left-footed round-the-corner style from the right-hand touchline, usually after Gerald Davies tries in the corner) to kick goals. England lock John Currie landed a few goals as an occasional kicker in the 1950s and Tiny Naudé, the Springbok lock of the 1960s, landed 15 goals in Tests.

Ireland's Stewart McKinney (against Scotland in 1974) and New Zealand's Gary Seear (against France in 1977) were back-row forwards who landed memorable one-off long-range penalty goals, but the only serious challenger to Eales as a regular choice as Test goal-kicker was the French loose forward, Jean Prat.

His 139 points were the world record for a forward before Eales's day. Prat played for France between 1945 and 1955, scoring nine tries (worth three points each), 26 conversions, 15 penalty and five dropped goals. The only other forwards who have scored a century or more points in major Tests have accumulated them through five-point tries.

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