Ask John
Who was the last Scot to start a Test for Lions?
John Griffiths
July 17, 2013
Lions prop Tom Smith takes on the Reds' defence, Queensland Reds v British & Irish Lions, Brisbane, June 16, 2001
Prop Tom Smith was the last Scotland international to start a Test for the Lions © PA Photos

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 answers one final batch of Lions-based emails including queries on Tom Richards, Lions captains and the Home Nations' influence on Test line-ups.

What is Tom Richards' official Lions number? Do you also know the number he was for the Wallabies? Stuart, Australia

Tom Richards is Lion #195 and Wallaby #99.

Players criss-cross the globe regularly in search of rugby these days. Tom Richards was the game's first globetrotter.

He was raised in an Australian mining community where a series of manual jobs helped him to develop the physique of a strapping forward. He went to South Africa with his father and brother (Bill, Wallaby #49) to look for work in 1905 and played for Transvaal in the 1906 Currie Cup competition which also doubled as trials for the first Springbok team to tour Britain and Ireland. Only complex qualifying rules prevented the selectors from including him in the subsequent tour party.

By the end of that year he had settled in England's West Country playing for Bristol, and in November he was in the Gloucestershire pack beaten 22-0 by the 'Boks.

He returned to Australia and in 1908 was playing for Queensland when the Aussie selectors chose him for the first Wallaby tour to Britain. He made his Australian Test debut in the match with Wales at Cardiff in December and was a member of the pack that beat Cornwall (representing Great Britain) to pick up the Gold medal at the White City Olympics.

He was back in the Transvaal in 1910 when Ireland's Tom Smyth led the first truly representative Lions team to tour South Africa. Invoking his Bristol club membership, the Lions management invited him to join the party for their match against Transvaal and when injuries put the squeeze on their playing resources the tourists were happy to call on him regularly in the later stages of the visit. In all he featured in 12 games including nine of the tour's last 11 matches.

He went on the Wallabies tour to North America as vice-captain in 1912, played in Europe on an extensive visit in 1913 and, during the Great War, served with the Australian Imperial Services at Gallipoli and later in Northern France where he was badly gassed. He was awarded the Military Cross for his distinguished service but suffered ill-health after the War and died in 1935.

"Rusty" Richards was a skilful loose forward at a time when pack specialisation was in its infancy. His chief attributes were his accurate tackling and mobility, but he was renowned for his sporting spirit and his love for rugby. His sport's greatest tribute is branding the Australia-Lions series in his memory.

When have the Lions been skippered in the final Test of a series by someone other than their tour party leader? Mike O'Callaghan, Ireland

Sam Warburton became the eighth Lions Tour skipper to miss the final match of a major series. And Alun-Wyn Jones, his stand-in, was the first substitute skipper to lead the Lions to a final Test victory since 1904.

In 2005, Brian O'Driscoll lasted barely a few minutes of the series, heavily tackled out of the tour in the first Test. Wales's Gareth Thomas took over as Test skipper and the Lions lost the series 3-0.

Scotland's Mike Campbell-Lamerton lost form in 1966 and withdrew from the Lions' final Test in New Zealand, passing the captaincy to Welsh fly-half David Watkins. The tourists lost 11-24 at Auckland and finished whitewashed for the first time, losing the series 4-0.

Another Scot, Arthur Smith, had to stand down through injury from the final Test in South Africa in 1962. The captaincy passed to English scrum-half Dickie Jeeps, who was making his then-record 13th Test appearance. The 'Boks won 34-14 in Bloemfontein and clinched the series 2-1, with one drawn.

Ireland's Karl Mullen missed the last two Tests of 1950 in New Zealand, at Wellington (L 3-6) and Auckland (L 8-11). The Lions ended the series 3-0 behind after a drawn first Test. Welsh legend Bleddyn Williams led the Lions in their narrow defeats.

Before the War, English threequarter Carl Aarvold deputised for Doug Prentice in the final Test against New Zealand in 1930 when the Lions lost 8-22 in Wellington and the All Blacks took the series 3-1.

The only other instances were successes in Australia more than a century ago. Teddy Morgan of Wales captained the 1904 Lions to a 16-0 win in the last Test at the SCG for the tourists to win the series 3-0 after tour leader, "Darkie" Bedell-Sivright was crocked in the first Test. In 1899, English forward Frank Stout took over from Rev Matthew Mullineux after a first Test defeat to lead the Lions to wins in the second, third and fourth Tests.

The Lions' Jonathan Davies exploits some space, Waratahs v British & Irish Lions, Allianz Stadium, Sydney, June 15, 2013
Welshman Jonathan Davies clocked up the most minutes on the Lions' recent tour of Australia © Getty Images

Who played for the most minutes on the Lions tour? Who featured in most matches and who started most often? And who were ever-present in the Test series? Matthew Hall, England

Welsh centre Jonathan Davies was the only Lion to clock up more than 500 minutes of playing time on tour. He was on the field for a total of 503 minutes.

There were five others - all Welsh - who served for more than 400 minutes: Alun-Wyn Jones (448); Dan Lydiate (439); George North (435); Leigh Halfpenny (418) and Toby Faletau (414).

Dan Cole and Richard Hibbard appeared in most matches, featuring in nine of the ten tour games. Cole came off the bench six times (making three starts) and Hibbard five times (with four starts). Jonathan Davies started most often with six run-ons in his seven appearances.

There were three ever-presents for the Lions in the series. Leigh Halfpenny, George North and Jonathan Davies each lasted the entire 240 minutes.

What is the highest contribution of capped players made by a Home Union to a run-on Lions Test XV and when was the last time a Scot started a Lions test? Peter Reid, Scotland

There have been four occasions when the Lions have called ten or more capped players from one Home Union into a starting Test fifteen.

England hold the record, supplying eleven capped players to the second and third Test sides against New Zealand in 1993. New Zealand had won the first Test 20-18 (thanks to a late penalty goal) and the Lions refashioned their pack for the second Test, bringing in Brian Moore, Jason Leonard and Martin Johnson but introducing Scott Gibbs at Will Carling's expense behind the scrum. England provided seven of the pack that levelled the series with a 20-7 win Wellington. The Lions were unchanged for the final Test in Auckland where they went down 13-30.

Wales provided ten capped players for the recent Test in Sydney against Australia and, as then reigning Grand Slam champions, also supplied ten members of the Lions Test XV that beat Australia 19-6 at Brisbane in 1950. The Welsh full-back Lewis Jones, who had arrived as a replacement for George Norton, went through the card of scoring actions that day and finished with 16 points.

That 1950 tour incidentally was the only time in Lions history that no capped Englishman featured in a Test line-up. They had none in the second Test at Christchurch and fourth at Auckland against New Zealand, nor in Brisbane and Sydney during the two-Test series with Australia.

The last Scotland internationalist to start a Lions Test was loose-head prop Tom Smith at Sydney against Australia in 2001.

What is the most players used by the Lions in a Test series? D Currie, England

Thirty were used in the recent series with Australia, a record high for a series-winning Lions group. There were also thirty used in the 2009 series lost in South Africa.

The alltime record, however, is 32, set when Sir Clive Woodward managed the 2005 Lions in a three-Test series against New Zealand. (Seven others played Test rugby for the Lions that year. They made their sole appearances in the curtain-raiser against Argentina at Cardiff.)

For the record, the least number of players called on by the Lions for a three- or four-Test series is 17 - in South Africa in 1903 and again in 1974.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd

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