Ask John
Cruden and East Africa
John Griffiths
September 26, 2012
New Zealand's Aaron Cruden offloads in a tackle, New Zealand v Ireland, Waikato Stadium, Hamilton, New Zealand, June 23, 2012
Aaron Cruden is yet to be on the losing side at Test level © 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 looks at Aaron Cruden's winning Test career, the most drawn Test appearances, MJK Smith's last rugby match, New Zealand dropped-goals and East Africa's matches against tourists.

Aaron Cruden has now won his first 14 Test matches. What is the record for most Test wins from debut before not winning a game? Nick, New Zealand

Aaron Cruden is one of only four players with a 100% career record among those with ten or more Test caps (as at September 26 2012). The four are:

The unbeaten few
Player Country 100% Career Span
Corey Flynn New Zealand 15/15 2003-11
Aaron Cruden New Zealand 14/14 2010-12
Bill Davis New Zealand 11/11 1967-70
Hannes Brewis South Africa 10/10 1949-53

Among those who had a run of 14 wins before drawing or losing their first Test are Ruben Kruger of South Africa and Cruden's compatriots Isaia Toeava and Sione Lauaki. Nick Evans (NZ 2004-07), Flynn (NZ 2003-11) and Conrad Smith (NZ 2004-08) each won their first fifteen Tests for the All Blacks. Gurthro Steenkamp also won his first 15 Tests for South Africa (2004-08).

Ahead of them are "Rassie" Erasmus of South Africa, whose Test career began with 16 straight wins (1997-98), while England's Trevor Woodman enjoyed a run of 17 Test wins (1999-2004) before experiencing his first setback.

Who has appeared in most drawn Tests? Chris Jones, England

The top twelve to date are as follows:

The players with the most draws
Player Country Draws Career Span
W J McBride Ireland/ Lions 13 1962-75
C M H Gibson Ireland/ Lions 11 1964-79
M Crauste France 9 1957-66
T J Kiernan Ireland/Lions 8 1960-73
G O Edwards Wales/Lions 8 1967-78
J F Slattery Ireland/Lions 8 1970-84
R E G Jeeps England/Lions 7 1955-62
M P Weston England/Lions 7 1960-68
D P Rogers England/Lions 7 1961-69
R J McLoughlin Ireland/Lions 7 1962-75
B Dauga France 7 1964-72
K W Kennedy Ireland/Lions 7 1965-75

M J K Smith is the last man to play Test Rugby and Test cricket for England. Did his rugby career end before his cricket Test career began? Peter Smith, England

MJK (Mike) Smith was Oxford's full-back in the 1954 Varsity Match and played fly-half (as Onllwyn Brace's partner) in their 9-5 victory the following year.

His performances that December day sealed his selection for England's opening match of the 1956 Five Nations Championship the month later when he played with Dickie Jeeps in an 8-3 defeat by Wales at Twickenham.

That was his sole England cap at rugby union, but many felt he was a better player after making his international debut. A long-striding fly-half, he was a regular for Leicestershire in the then-thriving English county championship competition.

After Oxford he played club rugby for Hinckley until mid-January 1961, his last match being a 6-0 away defeat by Burton.

He had become a Test cricketer in 1958 (against New Zealand) and at the time he gave up rugby was captain and assistant secretary to the Warwickshire County Cricket club. He later captained England in a distinguished career in the summer game.

Shortly after giving up rugby he maintained his interest in the sport as a journalist, reporting rugby for the Sunday Telegraph when it launched in February 1961.

Has any New Zealander dropped goals with both feet in the same Test? Paul Edgar, New Zealand

This is one New Zealand kicking record that Daniel Carter does not dominate.

Surprisingly only three All Blacks have dropped a pair of goals in a Test: Doug Bruce (against Ireland in 1978), Frano Botica (against France in 1986) and Andrew Mehrtens (against Australia in 1995).

Bruce landed his two goals with his left foot. Mehrtens kicked his pair with the right boot and Botica also landed both of his goals with the same foot

The East African Rugby Team is to be revived after a 30-year hiatus. I know that East Africa played the '55 & '62 Lions teams and the Welsh in '64. Did either side award caps for these matches? Did East Africa play any other official Tests? Paul Johns, New Zealand

There were four matches played by east Africa against international sides between 1955 and 1964. None of them was classified as a cap-match.

The four games were as follows:

East Africa's record
Year Opponents Result Venue
1955 Lions Lions 39-12 Nairobi
1961 Springboks Springboks 39-0 Nairobi
1962 Lions Lions 50-0 Nairobi
1964 Wales Wales 26-8 Nairobi

The East African sides drew on British ex-pats, among them a wing named Eric Weaver who was a Welshman serving with the RAF. He had been on Swindon Town's books as a professional soccer player before joining the Forces and gave Wales a few headaches in their 1964 game.

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