Ask John
Cricket and tennis stars, SH tours by the Home Unions and early tourists in France
John Griffiths
July 4, 2011
Former All Black Eric 'Snowy' Tindill, also a New Zealand Test cricketer, at his Wellington home , March 16, 2005
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:

Name Test Rugby Test Cricket
W H Milton England South Africa
A N Hornby England England
G F Vernon England England
A E Stoddart England England
G MacGregor Scotland England
A R Richards South Africa South Africa
S M J Woods England England & Australia
F Mitchell England England & South Africa
J H Anderson South Africa South Africa
P S T Jones South Africa South Africa
A W Powell South Africa South Africa
J H Sinclair South Africa South Africa
R O Schwarz England South Africa
R H Spooner England England
R H M Hands England South Africa
O E Nothling Austraila* Australia
J M Taylor Austraila* Australia
H G Owen-Smith England South Africa
M J L Turnbull Wales England
T A Harris South Africa South Africa
E W T Tindill New Zealand New Zealand
M P Donnelly England New Zealand
C B van Ryneveld England South Africa
M K Elgie Scotland South Africa
M J K Smith England England

* 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
1907 - Springboks: W 55-6 v Paris Clubs
1913 - Springboks: W 38-5 v FRANCE
1925 - All Blacks: W 37-8 v French Selection; W 30-6 v FRANCE
1928 - Waratahs: L 10-19 v SW France; W 11-3 v Midi Selection; W 11-8 v FRANCE
1948 - Wallabies: L 6-13 v FRANCE; W 8-7 v SW France; W 11-9 v France B; W 16-5 v Toulon; W 30-12 v Ile de France
1952 - Springboks: W 9-3 v SE France; W 20-12 v SW France; W 9-6 v France B; W 25-3 v FRANCE
1954 - All Blacks: L 8-11 v SW France; L 0-3 v FRANCE
1958 - Wallabies: W 17-0 v Riviera Provincial XV; L 3-8 v France B; W 17-14 v SW France; L 0-19 v FRANCE
1961 - Springboks: W 29-3 v SW France; W 26-10 v France B; W 36-9 v Basque Coast Selection; D 0-0 v FRANCE
1964 - All Blacks: W 17-8 v France B; W 23-0 v SW France; W 12-3 v FRANCE; W 8-5 v SE France
1967 - Wallabies: W 12-5 v Languedoc/Roussillon Selection; D 8-8 v France B; L 9-11 v SW France; L 14-20 v FRANCE
1967 - All Blacks: W 16-3 v SE France; W 32-19 v France B; W 18-14 v SW France; W 21-15 v FRANCE
1968 - Springboks: W 24-3 v Littoral/Provence Selection; W 3-0 v SE France; W 26-9 v Auvergne/Limousin Selection; W 12-9 v FRANCE L 3-11 v SW France; W 16-11 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

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