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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
Ashton's try, Henry's record and the Calder brothers
John Griffiths
November 22, 2010
England wing Chris Ashton races away to score, England v Australia, Twickenham, London, England, November 13, 2010
England's Chris Ashton races away to score against the Wallabies at Twickenham earlier this month © Getty Images
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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 Chris Ashton's try for England against Australia, Graham Henry's coaching record, the Calder brothers, James Body and England's recent record at Twickenham.

Where does the distance covered a) by the team and b) by an individual in England/Chris Ashton's recent try against Australia rank as far as Twickenham Test tries are concerned? S Timms, England

England have been playing Tests at Twickenham for one hundred years. The longest team try there at this level was the one initiated by Pierre Berbizier and Serge Blanco from their own dead-ball-line when Philippe Saint-André scored for France against England at Twickenham in the 1991 Grand Slam showdown. England's try against Australia earlier this month was from their goal-line.

Chris Ashton received the ball inside his own 22 before setting off on his long run. Against Scotland in 1965 Andy Hancock, down the other wing but from the same end of the ground, set off from roughly the same position inside his own 25 (pitches were marked out in Imperial units in those days).

Graham Henry is close to winning his 100th Test as a coach of a Tier One nation. Can you give a rundown of the coaches with the most tests coached and most Tests won as coach at this level? Caleb Borchers, United States

New Zealand's defeat of Ireland at the Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, on November 20 was Graham Henry's 98th win as a Test coach. He began his career with Wales in 1998 and led them through 20 Test wins - a record for a Welsh head coach - before resigning in 2002. He was also the head coach for the 2001 Lions in Australia (when Lynn Howells acted as stand-in coach for Wales on their simultaneous two-Test tour to Japan).

Henry's record to date reads:
Wales - P34, W20, D1, L13
British & Irish Lions - P3, W1, D0, L2
New Zealand - P90, W77, D1, L28
Overall - P127, W98, D1, L28

Sir Clive Woodward has the next best record in terms of Test wins. He began his long tenure with England in the autumn internationals of 1997, carried the side through the 1999 and successful 2003 World Cup campaigns and resigned after the summer tour in 2004. In 2005 he returned as head coach for the Lions Test with Argentina and series against New Zealand.

His record read:
England - P83, W59, D2, L22
British & Irish Lions - P4, W0, D1, L3
Overall - P87, W59, D3, L25

Sir Ian McGeechan pipped Woodward by one Test in terms of overall matches as a head coach. His winning record, though possessing neat arithmetic symmetry, was inferior.

His record reads:
Scotland - P76, W37, D2, L37
British & Irish Lions - P12, W6, D0, L6
Overall - P88, W43, D2, L43

In your list of three or more brothers who have played rugby for their country you made no mention of the Calders. We all recall Jim & Finlay but I was sure a third brother toured Australia with Scotland? Kerry Phillips, Wales

Spot on - there was a third Calder brother and he did go out on tour with Scotland as a replacement to Australia in 1982. All of the brothers - Fin and Jim were flankers with John a Number Eight - made that visit, but John never managed to make the Test side and never won his full cap for Scotland, hence his absence from the list given in the earlier column.

John played in the provincial matches against Victoria, NSW Country and ACT on the 1982 tour and was on the winning side each time. The three brothers never actually appeared in the same side on tour.

I know that reference books show my grandfather (James Body - England 1872-73) as dying in Manitoba, but this is not true - he died in Kent and I have the cuttings of his death from the local Kent paper to confirm this. His call-up letter incidentally is held in the RFU world rugby museum at Twickenham. The Body family, England

Thanks for pointing this out.

James Alfred Body was born in Tenterden in 1846, educated at Tonbridge School and together with several other former pupils of the school was responsible in 1868 for the founding of the Gipsies RFC, which for a dozen or so years was described as one London's top club sides. The club disbanded in 1880.

He won two caps for England against Scotland, playing as a forward in his country's first-ever Test win (at The Oval in 1872) and in the drawn game in Glasgow the year later. A forward, he was described by a contemporary as "a pocket Hercules - energetic and always on the ball."

His obituary in the Rugby Football Annual remembered him as "an old-time amateur who held that no amateur should receive payment for expenses." It is there that reference is made to his long residence in Manitoba and when the late Ross McWhirter compiled the biographies of England's international players for the RFU's Centenary publication in 1970-71 his death was noted as taking place in September 1929 in Canada.

I recall Twickenham as something of an England fortress in the early years of the millennium. How has the record there changed in the past decade? Stephen John, England

In the second half of Sir Clive Woodward's tenure as head coach England won every Test played at the ground between the defeat by New Zealand in the 1999 World Cup and the loss to Ireland in the 2004 Six Nations Championship.

Matters declined steadily since then though the recent performances against Australia (and to a lesser extent Samoa) have shown encouraging signs that perhaps Twickenham is about to regain its fortress feel for home spectators.

England's Test record at Twickenham 2000-2010:
2000-2003 - P20, W20, D0, L0, Winning percentage 100%
2004-2007 - P22, W13, D0, L9, 59%
2008-2010 - P17, W9, D0, L8, 53%

Martin Johnson recently emphasised the value of continuity. How has the size of the group pf players called on for Tests changed during his time as head coach? Mark, England

The figures for the past 18 months support his statement. The details of England's last fifteen full Test engagements (split into three distinct sets of five matches) suggest that he is converging on a settled squad as he prepares for World Cup year:

2010 Summer tour/autumn internationals (up to and including Samoa last Saturday) - Five matches

Backs used … D Armitage, Ashton, Banahan (first used as an experimental outside-centre against Samoa on Saturday), Care, Cueto, Flood, Foden, Hape, Hodgson, Tait, Tindall, Wilkinson, Youngs (13)

Forwards used … Attwood, Chuter, Cole, Croft, Easter, Fourie, Hartley, Haskell, Lawes, Moody, Palmer, Payne, Shaw, Sheridan, Thompson, Wilson (16)

So 29 different players used in the five games up to and including the Samoa match

2010 Six Nations internationals - Five matches

Backs used … D Armitage, Ashton, Care, Cueto, Flood, Flutey, Foden, Hipkiss, Hodgson, Monye, Tait, Tindall, Wilkinson, Youngs (14)

Forwards used … S Armitage, Borthwick, Cole, Deacon, Easter, Hartley, Haskell, Lawes, Mears, Moody, Mullan, Palmer, Payne, Shaw, Thompson, Wilson, Worsley (17)

So 31 different players used in the five games

2009 Summer/autumn internationals - Five matches

Backs used … D Armitage, Banahan, Care, Cueto, Erinle, Geraghty,Goode, Hipkiss, Hodgson, May, Monye,Tait, Vesty, Wilkinson (14) Forwards used … S Armitage, Bell, Borthwick,Chuter, Crane, Croft, Deacon, Doran-Jones, Easter, Hartley, Haskell, Kay, Lawes, Moody, Payne, Robshaw, Thompson, White, Wilson, Worsley (20)

So 34 different players used in the five games

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