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Record breaking England and an old man of his sport

Steven Lynch December 10, 2012
Alex Obolensky scored two tries in 1936 © Getty Images
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I'm still recovering from England's amazing rugby win over New Zealand last week. Have they ever beaten them by a bigger score? asked Charlie Mortimer
I think a lot of people are still recovering! England have never scored as many as 38 points in a match against the All Blacks before - their previous-best was 31, in another victory at Twickenham, in 2002 (New Zealand scored 28 points that day). The margin of victory - 17 points - was also an England record: they won 13-0 in 1936, in the Twickenham match made famous by the Russian prince Alex Obolensky's two tries. That remains the only time New Zealand have finished pointless against England (although this 2012 match was the first time they had failed to score in the first half of any international for 14 years). Just to put things in perspective, though, England have now faced the All Blacks in 35 international matches, and won only seven (there was also a draw in 1997).

I was amazed to read that Tiger Woods had won 16 of the lucrative World Golf Championship events, but no-one else had managed more than three. Is that right? asked James Copley
The World Golf Championship (WGC) started in 1999 with three events - the Match Play, the Invitational, and the Championship - and was expanded in 2009 with the addition of the Champions tournament in China. So far there have been 45 WGC events (excluding the World Cup, which was briefly considered one) and Tiger Woods has indeed collected the substantial winner's cheque in 16 of them, although he hasn't actually won one since the Invitational in August 2009. Five other golfers have so far won two WGC events - Darren Clarke, Ernie Els, Hunter Mahan, Phil Mickelson and Ian Poulter - but the Australian Geoff Ogilvy has won three: the Match Play in 2006 and 2009, and the Championship in 2008.

Matt Skelton just failed to win the British heavyweight title last week at the age of 45. Who is the oldest man to hold it? asked Peter Clarke
My first thought was that it would be Henry Cooper, who was almost 37 when he controversially lost the British heavyweight title to Joe Bugner in March 1971. But actually Matt Skelton - the "Bedford Banger" - already held the record: he was a month short of his 39th birthday when he won his last title fight, against John McDermott in December 2005. He's also the oldest man to win it for the first time, at 37 in 2004. Danny Williams was, like Cooper, a couple of months short of his 37th birthday when he lost his title to Dereck Chisora in May 2010.

Alberto Contador returned from suspension to win the Vuelta in 2012 © PA Photos
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How many cyclists have won all thee major tours - France, Italy and Spain? asked Iain Jones
Just five men have done this distinguished treble, none of them in the same year. Jacques Anquetil completed his full house by winning the Vuelta a Espana (Tour of Spain) in 1963, and it has been achieved since only by Felice Gimondi, Eddy Merckx, Bernard Hinault and Alberto Contador. The Spaniard Contador won the Tour de France in 2007 and 2009, and in Spain and Italy in 2008 (he won the Vuelta again in 2012). This achievement is sometimes called cycling's Triple Crown, although confusingly this name is more usually applied to the treble of winning the Tour de France, Giro d'Italia and world championship road race in the same year, something that has been achieved only by Eddy Merckx in 1974 and Ireland's Stephen Roche in 1987.

Which footballer played most often for England without ever finishing on the losing side? asked Chris Collins
This singular record is held by the former Arsenal midfielder David Rocastle, who never tasted defeat in 14 appearances for England between his debut against Denmark in 1988 and his last match, against Brazil, in 1992. England won seven and drew seven of those games. "Rocky" Rocastle, who won two league titles with Arsenal and also played for Leeds, Manchester City and Chelsea, sadly died of cancer in 2001, aged only 33.

Which country has been in the Davis Cup final most often without ever winning it - is it Italy? asked Jeremy Langley
Italy have lost the Davis Cup final on six occasions - most recently in 1998 - but they have actually won it once, winning 4-1 in Chile in 1976. The country making the most appearances in the final without ever winning is Argentina, who have made it to the crunch on four occasions but lost each time - to the United States in 1981, Russia in 2006, and Spain in 2008 (when they couldn't make home advantage count) and 2011. The United States have lost in the final most often - on 29 occasions - but that includes several times in the Challenge Round era (prior to 1973 the champions only played on match, against the winners of the global qualifying competition). Eight countries apart from Argentina have reached the final but never won: Romania and India three times, and Belgium, Chile, Japan, Mexico, Slovakia and Switzerland once each.

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