Ask John
Leading skippers and top points scorers
John Griffiths
December 19, 2012
New Zealand's Dan Carter celebrates a try, New Zealand v Wales, Carisbrook, Dunedin, New Zealand, June 19, 2010
Dan Carter scored 194 points for New Zealand in 2010 © 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 Test captaincy queries, most Test points in a calendar year, Toulouse's first double season and players who made England Test appearances with a father and son.

What was Toulouse's first-class record in the 1995-96 season when they won the double of H Cup & French Championship? Tom, England

Toulouse were unexpectedly beaten by Nîmes 23-22 on the opening Saturday of that 1995-6 season in early September. The first-class fixtures in France started relatively late that year owing to the 1995 Rugby World Cup in South Africa - the last RWC tournament to be staged in June - and several of Toulouse's returning stars were rested for the club's opening match.

The Nîmes fly-half Hervé Labat landed a late conversion of a try by winger Pierre Fra to pip a side that went on to do the double - win the French Championship and capture the inaugural Heineken Cup title.

But all told, Toulouse's record that year - Top 20 plus HC - was P 26 W 20 D 1 L 5. Their five defeats were in pool one games of the ten-team round-robin in their draw of the Top 20 of the French Championship. They were unbeaten at home but lost away 19-13 to Grenoble, 21-20 to Narbonne, 23-22 to Nîmes, 19-13 to Toulon and 23-11 to Perpignan.

Four of their wins were in the knockout stages of the Top 20 (ultimately winning the French Championship Final 20-13 against Brive to register their third successive French title) and another four wins were in the inaugural Heineken Cup (including the 21-18 success in the Final against Cardiff at Cardiff Arms Park).

I know Brian O'Driscoll (84) and John Smit (83) head the list for Test captaincies but which players have the most Test wins as captain to their name? Matthew Wheeler, England

The leading captains - Brian O'Driscoll (83 captaincies with Ireland and one in Tests for the Lions) and John Smit (83 Test captaincies for the Springboks) - also feature in the list of top winners which is headed, perhaps unsurprisingly, by New Zealand's Richie McCaw.

The skippers with most Test wins
Wins Player Team
69 Richie McCaw New Zealand
54 John Smit South Africa
52 Brian O'Driscoll Ireland
44 Will Carling England
41 John Eales Australia
39 Sean Fitzpatrick New Zealand
37 Martin Johnson England
34 George Gregan Australia

Further to the recent question about wingers as international captains, are there examples of notable props captaining international sides apart from the late Wilson Whineray? Edward Davies, Wales

Leading props as Test captains
Test Captain Team
30 Wilson Whineray New Zealand
25 David Sole Scotland
22 Massimo Cuttitta Italy
19 "Ian" McLauchlan Scotland
18 Ambrogio Bona Italy
16 Pita Fatialofa Samoa
15 Phil Vickery England
13 Deacon Manu Fiji
13 John Smit South Africa

John Smit, who led South Africa in 83 Tests did so 70 times starting as a hooker and 13 as prop. The former Wallaby captain, John Thornett, led Australia 16 times in Tests. He was first capped as a flanker, moved to the second-row to lead the side in five of his Tests before ending his Test career as skipper eleven times as a prop.

There are several props with a dozen Test captaincies to their names, including Wales's Dai Young. (John Lloyd, Gethin Jenkins and Duncan Jones are the only other props who have led Wales in Tests since World War Two).

The leading Irish prop captain was Ray McLoughlin with a run of eight Tests as skipper in 1965 and 1966. The only other post-war props who have led the Irish are Simon Best, Nick Popplewell and Reggie Corrigan who each led twice as stand-ins.

For France, Robert Paparemborde led five Test sides in Jean-Pierre Rives's absence in 1980 and 1981.

What is the record for most Test points in a calendar year? James King, England

The first player to break the 180-point barrier in Tests in a calendar year was Neil Jenkins for Wales in 1994 when the Principality became the first Home Union that had to undertake a preliminary round of matches in order to qualify for Rugby World Cup finals (beating both Portugal and Spain to progress to the 1995 event in South Africa).

All told, the 180-point mark has been passed ten times with New Zealand's Dan Carter featuring three times on the list:

Leading props as Test captains
Points Year Player
263 1999 Neil Jenkins (Wales)
233 2003 Jonny Wilkinson (England)
219 2007 Percey Montgomerie (South Africa)
203 2008 Dan Carter (New Zealand)
196 1995 Gavin Hastings (Scotland)
194 2010 Dan Carter (New Zealand)
189 1996 Matt Burke (Australia)
186 2006 Dan Carter (New Zealand)
185 2010 Morne Steyn (South Africa)
181 1994 Neil Jenkins (Wales)

The best return by a Frenchman was 160 by Frédéric Michalak in 2003 and the best Irish haul was recorded the same year: 144 by David Humphreys.

Further to the father/two sons feature in a recent question, has any player appeared in Tests for England with two generations of the same close family - ie father and son? Paul Adams, England

The following have played in Tests for England with father and son Andy (2007) and Owen Farrell (2012): Toby Flood, Tom Palmer, Lee Mears, David Strettle and Matt Stevens.

James Haskell was first capped in 2007 and has recently played with Owen Farrell, but never overlapped on the field for England with the new Lions assistant coach.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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