IRB Centenary matches, Irish try-scorers against New Zealand and snow-blighted seasons
January 18, 2010
Former Cambridge fly-half Mike Gibson is the only Irishman to have scored a try against New Zealand for a mainland club © Getty Images
Most points for Ireland against Wales, the Fagan Brothers and four wins in a year over the All Blacks
Henry Anderson Serge Blanco David Gallaher Danie Gerber Arthur Guillemard Gavin Hastings John Kirwan Michael Lynagh Basil MacLear Philippe Sella Rory Underwood
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 queries on the IRB Centenary matches, Ireland v England in 1880 and Irish try-scorers in matches against New Zealand.
I have been unable to source anywhere the teams in the British/Irish Lions v The Rest and Five Nations v Overseas XV matches which took place in April 1986. Can you help?
Only players from the eight Unions then affiliated to the Board were involved.
British Lions 7 (1PG IT) The Rest 15 (2G 1PG) - April 16, 1986, Cardiff Arms Park
British Lions: A G Hastings (Scotland); T M Ringland (Ireland), B J Mullin (Ireland), J A Devereux (Wales), R Underwood (England); J Y Rutherford (Scotland), R N Jones Wales); J Whitefoot (Wales), C T Deans (Scotland) (captain), D C Fitzgerald (Ireland), W A Dooley (England), D G Lenihan (Ireland), J Jeffrey (Scotland), J R Beattie (Scotland), N J Carr (Ireland) Replacements I A M Paxton (Scotland) for Dooley; M Dacey (Wales) for Rutherford
Scorers Try: Beattie Penalty Goal: Hastings
The Rest: S Blanco (France); P Estève (France), A G Slack (Australia) (captain), M P Lynagh (Australia), J J Kirwan (New Zealand); W R Smith (New Zealand), N C Farr-Jones (Australia); E E Rodriguez (Australia), T A Lawton (Australia), G A Knight (New Zealand), S A G Cutler (Australia), S W P Burger (South Africa), M W Shaw (New Zealand), M G Mexted (New Zealand), S P Poidevin (Australia)
Scorers Tries: Farr-Jones, Poidevin Conversions: Lynagh (2) Penalty Goal: Lynagh
Referee R C Francis (New Zealand)
Five Nations 13 (1G 1PG IT) Overseas Unions 32 (1G 2PG 5T) - April 19, 1986, Twickenham
Five Nations: S Blanco (France); T M Ringland (Ireland), P Sella (France), M J Kiernan (Ireland), R Underwood (England); M Dacey (Wales), R J Hill (England); J Whitefoot Wales), S E Brain (England), I G Milne (Scotland), J Condom (France), D G Lenihan (Ireland) (captain), J Jeffrey (Scotland), I A M Paxton (Scotland), L Rodriguez (France)
Scorers Tries: Ringland (2) Conversion: Blanco Penalty Goal: Kiernan
Overseas Unions: R G Gould (Australia); J J Kirwan (New Zealand), D M Gerber (South Africa), W T Taylor (New Zealand), C J du Plessis (South Africa); H E Botha (South Africa), D S Loveridge (New Zealand); E E Rodriguez (Australia), A G Dalton (New Zealand) (captain), P R van der Merwe (South Africa), SAG Cutler (Australia), A M Haden (New Zealand), S P Poidevin (Australia), S N Tuynman (Australia), M W Shaw (New Zealand)
Scorers Tries: Gerber (2), Kirwan, du Plessis, Rodriguez, Shaw Conversion: Botha Penalty Goals: Botha (2)
Referee D I H Burnett (Ireland)
Following on from your story on hat tricks of tries scored against the All Blacks, has any player ever scored a hat trick of tries against South Africa? I know this has never been accomplished in a Test match but what about in other matches? Andrew de Klerk, South Africa
The 1880 Ireland v England match has always been shown as having been played on 30 January. It must have been postponed because the contemporary match reports I've read say it was played on February 2? Cris Freddi, England
The 1880 match took place during his presidency and he gives its date as January 30 (which was a Friday) in Marshall's work. Subsequent official RFU publications (and many unofficial works) have persisted in reproducing this date. Your excellent research has now put the record straight as The Times, Irish Times and Manchester Guardian all confirm that the game was played on (Monday) February 2, the date that is now shown on Scrum.com's Statsguru database. On reflection it would have been odd for the match to have been staged on a Friday in those far off days as Mondays were the usual days for internationals in the 1870s.
In the last hundred years many Irish rugby players have played for English clubs. Have any scored a try against the All Blacks playing for an English, Welsh or Scottish based team?
The only try against New Zealand scored by an Irish Test player for a mainland club was by the Cambridge University out-half, Mike Gibson, against Wilson Whineray's tourists in 1963. Gibson played so well that day (and in the Varsity Match barely a month later) that the Irish selectors fast-tracked him into the side that faced England at Twickenham a few months later. Two Irishmen - Fergus Slattery, at Cardiff in 1973, and Philip Matthews, at Twickenham in 1989 - scored tries for the Barbarians in matches against the All Blacks.
What was the rule change that enabled teams to form the rugby league style defence that is strung across the field?Peter Hughes, Wales
About five years ago the IRB, anxious to preserve players' health and safety, outlawed boots on bodies at the ruck. The upshot has been that teams commit fewer players to the breakdown for fear of conceding penalties. Defence coaches have consequently advocated that the spare four or five forwards not involved at the breakdown remain uncommitted and act as defenders by fanning out rugby league style across the field.
Which previous seasons were most disrupted by snow? Anon
Two Five Nations matches in 1946-47 were postponed owing to heavy snow: the Wales v Ireland game at Swansea was put back three weeks to March 29 and the England v France game at Twickenham was postponed from February 22 and eventually played on April 19. Old-timers in 1947 claimed it was the most disrupted winter for rugby since 1878, when pitches were reputedly unplayable for nine weeks.
Surprisingly, there were no Five Nations postponements during the infamous winter of 1962-63, though in January and early February the Wales v England game at Cardiff and Scotland v Wales international (on the Murrayfield electric blanket) were virtually the only matches of the day.
The snow arrived early in 1981-82. Nearly ten centimetres unexpectedly fell on Twickenham on the eve of the Centenary Varsity match in December, only Herculean work by the RFU grounds team ensuring that the match went ahead. A month later, heavy overnight snow caused the cancellation of the Barbarians v Australia match at Cardiff scheduled for January 9, and the following week, while Scotland v England went ahead at Murrayfield in freezing temperatures, snow caused the Ireland v Wales match in Dublin to be postponed. There were also isolated weather interruptions in 1985 (when three Five Nations matches had to be re-scheduled) and 1987 (when two were).