Ask John
The First-ever RWC match, NZ's Lowest Test Scores and missed kicks
ESPNscrum Staff
August 29, 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 the first ever Rugby World Cup match, South seas wins against Five/Tri-Nations opposition, New Zealand's lowest Test scores, players going to to four or more World Cups and Test goal kicks.

I'm looking for information about the first World Cup game between New-Zealand and Italy in 1987. How can I get the names of the players who scored tries during this game and the time they did it? I am trying to find out if Michael Jones scored the first try ever of a Rugby World Cup or if there was a penalty try before. Olivier, France

The first-ever try in RWC was a penalty try in the New-Zealand v Italy tournament opener in May 1987. Referee Bob Fordham (Australia) awarded it to New Zealand after 14 minutes when Italy's captain Marzio Innocenti dived into a scrum as the All Blacks were going for a pushover try.

The first player to score a try was Michael Jones. The flanker, who was making his New Zealand debut, scored from a blind-side move after hooker Sean Fitzpatrick had taken a scrum against the head.

The scoring timeline was as follows:

14 - pen try & Fox converted - 6-0
21 - Fox penalty - 9-0
30 - Jones try & Fox missed - 13-0
37 - Kirk try & Fox missed - 17-0
38 - Collodo dropped goal - 17-3

1 - Collodo penalty - 17-6
3 - Taylor try & Fox converted - 23-6
9 - Green try & Fox missed - 27-6
14 - Green try & Fox converted - 33-6
20 - Fox penalty - 36-6
23 - McDowell try & Fox converted - 42-6
28 - Kirwan try & Fox converted - 48-6
30 - Kirwan try & Fox converted - 54-6
32 - Kirk try & Fox converted - 60-6
35 - Stanley try & Fox missed - 64-6
39 - A J Whetton try & Fox converted - 70-6

Which Pacific Island nation is the most successful against the Five Nations/Tri-Nations? Graham, England

Samoa's recent win against Australia was their fifth in matches for which the Five Nations and Tri-Nations have awarded full caps. Fiji have won four and Tonga two.

The table of wins by the Islanders is as follows:

Island Nation/ Opponents Arg Eng Fra Ire NZ Sco SA Wal
Samoa 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 3
Fiji 2 0 0 0 0 1 0 1
Tonga 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0

Samoa have also drawn once with Scotland while Fiji have drawn once with Australia and once with Wales.

Wales and South Africa will face both Fiji and Samoa in their pool in the forthcoming World Cup. Tonga are in the same pool as New Zealand and France.

In the recent Tri-Nations Test in Port Elizabeth the All Blacks only managed to score one try and a total of 5 points. When was the last time they were held to 5 points or fewer in a Test match? Phillip Wolmarans, South Africa

The last time New Zealand scored five (or fewer) points in a Test was in 1998 in Wellington when the Springboks triumphed 13-3. New Zealand have never scored four points in a Test and have managed only three points on 15 Test occasions.

There have been eight Tests in which NZ failed to score:

1905 - Wales 3-0
1910 - Australia 11-0
1921 - SA 0-0
1928 - SA 17-0
1936 - England 13-0
1954 - France 3-0
1960 - SA 13-0
1964 - Scotland 0-0

They have scored at least one try in every Test match since 2004 when they were beaten 23-18 by Australia in Sydney. The All Blacks' points came from six penalty goals that day.

Scotland's Chris Paterson is about to make his fourth RWC tournament squad. Which other players have been in four (or more) RWC tournament squads? Ian, Scotland

The record is five RWC tournaments by Brian Lima for Samoa - 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003 and 2007.

Ten players who appeared in four RWC previous tournaments come to mind: George Gregan (Australia), Jason Leonard & Mike Catt (England), Al Charron, Rod Snow & Gareth Rees (Canada), Carlo Checchinato & Alessandro Troncon (Italy), Romeo Gontineac (Romania) and Gareth Thomas (Wales).

Os du Randt appeared in RWCs that spanned four tournaments 1995-2007 (missed 2003) while Dai Young (Wales) and Alan Tait (Scotland) each spanned the 1987-1999 tournaments but were playing RL in between and missed out in 1991 and 1995.

I remember seeing footage of Michael Lynagh repeatedly missing kicks at goal in a match against Wales (a match which Australia nevertheless won). Do I remember correctly and, in any event, what is the record for the number of kicks at goal missed in a single game by one player? James Bridges, Wales

The occasion was Australia's 63-6 win against Wales at Brisbane's Ballymore Ground in July 1991. At the time it was Wales's heaviest defeat since the introduction of points scoring in the late 19th century.

Michael Lynagh kicked six conversions, one penalty goal and scored two tries in his 23-point haul - one point short of the then Aussie points record for a Test (set by Lynagh the year before).

Even so, the great Australian points scorer missed eight of his 15 kicks at goal that day. There were six conversion misses and he also failed with two penalty goal attempts. Australia might have won 81-6 otherwise.

Players' goal-kicking rates were not so carefully recorded before the 1990s. Missed goals were not always mentioned in match reports so it is impossible to answer the second half of your question.

Conversion rates by teams, however, are known and the record number of missed conversions in a Test is a dozen by Argentina in their 144-0 win against Paraguay in a South American Championship match in April 2003. The place-kicking duties for the Pumas that day were shared by Germán Bustos and replacement Juan Fernández Miranda.

Among the Five/Tri-Nations both South Africa and Scotland have missed eight conversions in a Test. Scotland beat Wales by twelve tries and four conversions to nil in 1887 (in the days before penalty kicks at goal were permitted). Charles Berry missed four, Alexander Woodrow two, M C "Saxon" McEwan and George Lindsay one each.

When South Africa beat Uruguay 134-3 in East London in 2005 Percy Montgomery was off-target with six conversion attempts and Jaco van der Westhuyzen failed twice.

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