Interesting Rugby Facts
What does the number 50 mean to England Rugby with just 50 days until England kick-off the Rugby World Cup
2015 against Fiji at Twickenham on 18 September?
We take an interesting look at the significance of the number 50 to England Rugby.
1. First to 50
These days, it is quite common for players to reach the 50-cap milestone but that has not always been the case.
The first man to achieve the feat was England’s record try-scorer Rory Underwood. The wing made his Test debut in a 12–9 victory over Ireland at Twickenham in February 1984 and, seven years later, made his 50th appearance against Scotland (9–6) in the Rugby World Cup semi-final at Murrayfield. Underwood went on to win a total of 85 caps for England and also represented the British & Irish Lions in six Tests.
Just 40 players have received over 50 caps for England, including current Rugby World Cup training squad members Dan Cole (50), Danny Care (50), James Haskell (58) and Nick Easter (51).
2. 50 at the top
Two men have been Head Coach for 50 games or more – Geoff Cooke (50) and Sir Clive Woodward (83).
Cooke led England to two successive Grand Slames (1991, 1992) before resigning ahead of the Rugby World Cup in 1995. Woodward led England to Rugby World Cup glory in 2003 to add to a Grand Slam in the same year.
He was the most successful coach in terms of the number of matches England won during his tenure (59), but he is not the most successful in terms of winning percentage (71.08%). Jack Rowell (72.41%) and Cooke (71.43%) both have very slightly higher winning percentages.
3. 50 for the leader
Will Carling is England’s youngest-ever, longest serving and most successful Captain. He is the only man to have skippered his country on over 50 occasions, having led his team in 59 tests between 1988 and 1996, winning 44 times and capturing three Grand Slams.
The next longest stints are Martin Johnson (39) and current Captain Chris Robshaw (36). In total 128 players have had the honour of leading England.
4. 50 at HQ
Just one man has been capped more than 50 times at Twickenham – Jason Leonard. The prop appeared in 55 home matches and went on to be England’s most capped player of all time with 114. Leonard is followed by Martin Johnson (44) and Lawrence Dallaglio and Jonny Wilkinson (both 42). 50 as an amateur
5. Most capped amateur to achieve 50 plus
The most-capped Englishman to have played exclusively as an amateur is Peter Winterbottom. The flanker made 58 Test appearances for his country between 1982 and 1993.
6. 50 tries
No England player has ever managed to cross the whitewash more than 50 times.
Wing Rory Underwood came closest with 49, followed by 2003 Rugby World Cup winners Ben Cohen and Will Greenwood, who both bagged 31 each.
7. 50 points up
The first time England scored 50 points was in beating Japan 60-7 at the 1987 Rugby World Cup. Another 50-point score – this time a 50-10 victory over Wales in March 2002 – kick-started England’s longest winning sequence in Test rugby (14).
The streak included wins over the All Blacks, Wallabies and Springboks on consecutive weekends at Twickenham in November later that year and a famous 15–13 victory over New Zealand in Wellington in June 2003. It finally came to an end when England were beaten 17–16 by France in August in a Rugby World Cup warm-up match in Marseille.
The run saw England amass 493 points, scoring 40 or more points in half of the matches.
8. The 50th player to represent England
This honour went to Foster Cunliffe who made his debut against Scotland on 23 February 1874 at The Oval. It was his one and only match in the white of England, resulting in a 1-0 win under a much different scoring system. Cunliffe was educated at Rugby School and served in the Royal Artillery.
A total of 1,300 players separated Cunliffe from current England player Billy Twelvetrees who became the 1,350th international when he made his debut against Scotland on 2 February 2013
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