Win The Strangest Rugby Quiz Book

Quizzes are all the rage and, with the Rugby World Cup looming, publishers Portico have brought out The Strangest Rugby Quiz Book. As the name suggests, the book looks at many of the more curious occasions from rugby history, grouping questions into categories such as nicknames, political connections and Shakespearean characters. There are 25 topics in all.

Devised by rugby historian John Griffiths, the questions range from – in cricket parlance – gentle full tosses to killer inswinging yorkers, so there is something for everyone. The fullness of the answers, which fill half of the book, allows much opportunity for learning.

To give you a flavour of the book, we’ve reproduced the ‘Bloopers’ category below. There are ten questions, followed by the answers, and below that you have the chance to win one of six copies we’re giving away in a competition.

1980 South Africa v Lions

Trouble ahead: Bill Beaumont leads out the Lions for the 1980 third Test – see question below (Getty)

1. WHOSE lapse of concentration in Port Elizabeth during the third Test of the Lions-Springboks Test series in 1980 cost the British & Irish team the match and with it the rubber?

2. WHAT happened next when French wing Patrick Estève went over the try-line after a slick threequarter move against England at Twickenham in 1985?

3. WHO was the maverick Australian wing whose blunder when playing against the Lions in the final Test of the 1989 series presented Ieuan Evans with the try that sealed the series for the British & Irish team?

4. NAME the Bath player whose premature celebration of a try blew his side’s chances of winning a crucial European Champions Cup pool match at home to Toulouse in October 2018.

5. Referees haven’t been exempt from bloopers at the highest level. WHO mistakenly awarded Gareth Edwards a dropped goal in Dublin in 1968 and nearly sparked a riot?

6. WHAT was perceived as a blunder by Welsh captain Terry Davies in the Wales-South Africa Test at Cardiff in 1960?

7. HOW did England captain Lawrence Dallaglio err in the closing minutes of England’s Grand Slam bid against Wales at Wembley in April 1999?

8. WHICH captain’s aberration cost his side a draw in a tight 2015 World Cup pool match and effectively put paid to their chances of qualifying for the knockout stages?

9. HOW did English referee Ken Pattinson cause a stir when Andy Irvine kicked a long-range penalty for Scotland against France at Murrayfield in 1976?

10. WHOSE lack of awareness at a tense moment late in England’s 1981 visit to Cardiff gifted Wales a match-winning penalty?

Wales v England, 1981

So close: here’s big Bill again, shaking hands with JPR after the last-gasp loss to Wales in 1981 (Getty)


1. Clive Woodward was a gifted centre in England’s 1980 Grand Slam team, but it was his moment of madness playing as a wing that cost the Lions dear in Port Elizabeth. Ten minutes from time in a match they needed to win to keep the series alive, the Lions were leading 10-6 when fly-half Naas Botha nudged the ball into the Lions 25 on Woodward’s side of the field.

Instead of picking it up and kicking for the safety of touch 30 yards upfield, Woodward nonchalantly side-footed the ball into touch, then compounded his carelessness by turning his back and retiring to his goal-line to prepare for the ensuing lineout.

Springboks Gerrie Germishuys and Theuns Stofberg were quick to realise the golden opportunity and took the throw-in before the Lions could regroup. From an exchange of quick passes, Germishuys scored the try which Botha converted from near touch to win the match, and with it the series.

2. The French wing crossed the line but delayed touching down in an effort to score nearer the posts. Meanwhile England’s Richard Harding dashed back and dislodged the ball from Estève’s grasp, saving the day for his team to escape with a 9-9 draw.

3. The Wizard of Oz, David Campese, was famed for the bold approach he brought to rugby in his playing day. At Sydney in 1989, however, his wild pass to his full-back (Greg Martin) near the Australian goal-line was gobbled up by that hungry scavenger Ieuan Evans. The shock try turned the game into a 19-18 Lions win, which sealed the series for the tourists.

Ieuan Evans and Gavin Hastings

Victors: Ieuan Evans, left, and Gavin Hastings celebrate the Lions’ series-clinching win in Sydney (Getty)

4. Late in the game, Bath were trailing 22-20 when Freddie Burns crossed near the posts. He was blowing a celebratory kiss to supporters when the Toulouse wing, Maxime Médard, dashed across to flip the ball out of the showboating full-back’s hands. Burns was replaced immediately and Bath went on to lose.

5. Bristol’s Mike Titcomb, one of the best British referees of the 1960s and early ‘70s, was badly tricked by parallax and the celebratory gamesmanship of several Welsh players into awarding Gareth Edwards an equalizing dropped goal that clearly missed the posts.

The crowd was incensed and the usually good-natured Irish supporters rushed the pitch, causing a long delay. Fortunately, the Irish players accepted the decision with good grace superficially, which helped calm the crowd, but privately they must have been seething at the referee’s honest mistake.

At length, justice was seen to be done. In the tenth minute of added time, Mick Doyle went over for the try that broke the deadlock, Ireland winning 9-6. But it was a day that Mike Titcomb, who needed a police escort after the final whistle, never forgot.

Freddie Burns, Bath v Toulouse

Watch out! Maxime Médard, left, is about to ruin Freddie Burns’s day in the 2018 Bath-Toulouse game

6. Terry Davies was heavily criticised for electing to face a gale-force wind and driving rain in the first half after winning the toss. The upshot was that his forwards were a spent force by half-time, having defended bravely against a juggernaut Springbok pack.

South Africa, who won 3-0, had exploited the elements early on to score the decisive points with a penalty downwind and from in front of the posts before the ball had become a sodden, muddy mass that was too heavy to kick and impossible to handle.

7. Leading 31-25 late in the match, Lawrence Dallaglio’s side was awarded a penalty in a kickable position. A successful shot would have given them an impregnable nine-point cushion, but instead of asking Jonny Wilkinson to go for the posts, the popular English skipper opted for a kick into the corner.

Lawrence Dallaglio, England v Wales 1999

Wembley warrior: Lawrence Dallaglio carries v Wales in 1999, a match that gave him a difficult decision

The Welsh exit strategy was perfectly executed and play reached English territory, where Scott Gibbs embarked on a clattering run that culminated in a try that Neil Jenkins converted for a totally unpredictable 32-31 victory. England were denied the Grand Slam, and the last title in Five Nations history was gifted to Scotland, who had won in Paris the day before.

8. Chris Robshaw had to plead guilty to a similar offence to Lawrence Dallaglio’s when he shunned a 78th-minute chance to give Owen Farrell a penalty kick at goal that (if successful) would have drawn England’s 2015 World Cup pool match with Wales at Twickenham.

Andy Irvine

Thwarted: Andy Irvine, kicking for goal in Lions colours

The captain directed his kicker to aim for the corner, hoping the winning try would follow from the subsequent lineout. Wales held out to win, and England’s defeat by Australia a week later sent them tumbling out of their own World Cup before the pool stage was complete.

9. At a windswept Murrayfield, Andy Irvine, with Ian McLauchlan’s steadying hand on the ball, whacked it high and true through the posts from a penalty near halfway. So, 6-0 to Scotland thought the Scottish team and 55,000 of their ecstatic spectators, but to their consternation Mr Pattinson disallowed the kick, ruling that as McLauchlan was in front of the ball he was offside.

He was wrong. A player holding the ball for a place kick does not have to be behind it. It was a howler that cost Mr Pattinson his Test career, for although he apologised to the Scots after the match, he was never again invited to control an International. France won the match 13-6.

10. England were leading 19-18 with the match approaching injury time when Wales were awarded a scrum. Once again it was Clive Woodward’s temporary lack of concentration that proved costly when he drifted offside in front of his posts (after a dummy pass by Wales scrum-half Brynmor Williams) and Steve Fenwick kicked Wales to a 21-19 win.

Still, every cloud has a silver lining, and mistakes often provide the best learning opportunities. When Woodward became head coach of the England side, the TCUP mantra he drilled into his players – Think Carefully Under Pressure – underpinned the success of the 2003 World Cup-winning side.



The Strangest Rugby Quiz Book is published by Portico, RRP £6.99. To buy a copy, click here.

We have six copies to give away in a competition. For a chance to win one, just answer the question below and fill in your details. The competition closes on Friday 6 September.

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Terms and conditions

The competition closes at noon on Friday 6 September 2019.Six winners will be selected at random, each winning a copy of The Strangest Rugby Quiz Book.

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