How many times have Duane Vermeulen, Francois Louw and Willem Alberts played together for the Springboks in tests and how close are they to the South African record? Peter Martin, England.
The unit started together for the 15th time in the final Springbok Test of the year, against France in Paris last month.
Their first Test as a trio was against New Zealand in Dunedin in September 2012 and the only matches they have missed since then were the three games in the Quadrangular tournament (involving Scotland, Samoa and Italy) in June of this year. As a unit they have won eleven of their games. The four defeats were in Rugby Championship matches against New Zealand (twice in 2012 and twice this year).
They now hold the Springbok back-row record. Ruben Kruger, André Venter and Gary Teichmann established the previous mark with 14 starts in combination in 1996 and 1997. Venter and Teichmann also combined 14 times with Rassie Erasmus between 1997 and 1999.
John Griffiths is a widely respected rugby historian and is the author of several sports books, a regular contributor to the Daily Telegraph and co-author of the IRB International Rugby Yearbook. He has provided insight for Scrum.com since 1999.