WAYNE BARNES will break the record for most Aviva Premiership matches refereed when he takes charge of the Worcester-London Irish match on Friday night.
Barnes, 38, is tied with Chris White on 190 matches in the all-time list, the latter having set the mark between 1997 and 2011.
Phil Winstanley, rugby director of Premiership Rugby, said: “In the last 15 years Wayne has arguably become the number one referee in world rugby and we’re fortunate to have him plying his trade in the Aviva Premiership each week.”
Everyone loves to know about records and the sixth edition of World Rugby Records has more than you can shake a stick at. It’s divided into five parts: countries, British & Irish Lions, Rugby World Cup, international rugby, and world rankings and awards.
It’s a book of inclusivity because lower-tier nations such as Portugal and Ivory Coast feature alongside the likes of England and New Zealand. And while there are plenty of facts and stats that will be familiar to the reader, there are others that definitely tick the ‘obscure’ box!
We’ve selected a few records to whet your appetite, updating them where appropriate to incorporate the latest matches…
England flanker James Haskell has received the most yellow cards in Six Nations history. His five yellows have been picked up against Italy, Ireland (twice), France and Wales, so a spell in the sin-bin against Scotland would complete the full set!
Haskell is not part of Eddie Jones’s squad right now but captain John Barclay is very much part of Scotland’s plans. He is joint second in the championship’s yellow-card list with three, and the only one of 11 players on that number who will play in the upcoming tournament.
New Zealand’s win percentage of just under 79% from 566 matches knocks the spots off everybody else. But technically two countries have better records – step forward Gibraltar and Macau.
Both countries have flawless if fleeting scorecards: Gibraltar have beaten Montenegro 55-7 and Finland 22-17 in the past 14 months, the only two Internationals they’ve played; and Macau’s solitary outing brought a 46-7 victory over Cambodia in 2005.
Malawi also had a 100% record after winning their first three matches but a defeat by Swaziland in October broke the sequence.
David Campese is arguably rugby’s greatest-ever wing but with 64 tries he lies only third in the all-time try list, behind Japan’s Daisuke Ohata (69) and Springbok Bryan Habana (67).
Campo does edge them in one regard, however: his 24 tries in 39 away matches – which excludes those on neutral soil, so his tries at the 1987 World Cup in Australia don’t count – is a record in Test rugby.
Habana and Shane Williams are only one behind with 23 away tries apiece, while Ohata scored just 15 tries in away fixtures.
England’s 80-23 rout of Italy in 2001 is the biggest winning margin in the history of the Five/Six Nations, being four points bigger than similar routs of the Azzurri by Wales (2016) and Ireland (2017).
England’s ten tries that day at Twickenham matched the ten that Wales put past France in Swansea in 1910, but is that a record? Not really, because way back in 1887 Scotland scored 12 tries against the Welsh at Raeburn Place in Edinburgh.
In those days you only scored by converting the try and Scotland officially won that match by four goals to nil. But under the modern scoring system that equates to a 68-0 thrashing – which puts England’s 2001 exploits in the shade!
Jamie George had to wait until his 20th England cap for a first start, the Saracens hooker breaking his unwanted duck when getting the No 2 shirt against Samoa in November.
Hookers are well used to it, with the top three in the list of most caps won off the bench all playing in that position. All Black Keven Mealamu is out on his own with 55 sub appearances, to go with his 77 starts; Sean Cronin has started just nine Tests for Ireland but come off the bench 47 times, while new Leicester signing Tatafu Polota-Nau also has 47 caps as a replacement, to supplement 35 Wallaby starts.
Below is a list of the 13 players to have won 40 or more caps as a replacement, courtesy of renowned rugby statistician Stuart Farmer…
NAME COUNTRY STARTS REPS
Keven Mealamu NZ 77 55
Sean Cronin IRE 9 47
Tatafu Polota-Nau AUS 35 47
Wyatt Crockett NZ 25 46
Piri Weepu NZ 25 46
Eoin Reddan IRE 26 45
James Slipper AUS 42 44
Ollie le Roux SA 11 43
Ruan Pienaar SA 45 43
Danny Care ENG 34 42
Valentin Calafeteanu ROM 51 41
Ronan O’Gara IRE 87 41
Ben Franks NZ 7 40
Incidentally, of the 16,902 players who had played international rugby when this book went to press, 4,638 of them only won a single cap – that’s more than 27%. There are a lot of one-cap wonders out there!
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