This weekend the Barbarians, who take on Fiji at Twickenham, will be out to make sure that they produce a performance that reminds us all why they are here.
Recently the invitational side haven’t beaten anyone of real significance since May last year when they beat Ireland 29 – 28 at Kingsholm, leading some critics to question their relevance.
So far in 2013 they have been comprehensively thumped 40 – 12 by an understrength England outfit at Twickenham and mauled 59 – 8 by the British & Irish Lions in Hong Kong in a game that had many people, including Sir Clive Woodward scratching their heads. There was no obvious reason for this game to take place, let alone in Hong Kong of all places (other than the money it brought in for sponsors). As Woodward wrote at the time in his column, this game wasn’t taken seriously by the Baa Baa’s and a game against France or Argentina would have been much more worthwhile. Leaving the question, what use does the rugby world have for the Baa Baa’s?
The powers that be have reacted to this and for the game against Fiji they have picked an extremely strong side. It’s packed with a mix of power and flair from the southern hemisphere following an autumn series where the nations south of the equator have confirmed their positions at the top of the rugby tree. Before we go any further, here’s the team to face Fiji this weekend:
Santiago Cordero (ARG, 2), Frank Halai (NZ, 1), Gavin Williams (SAM, 16), Jean de Villiers (captain) (SA, 96), Charles Piutau (NZ, 10), Patrick Lambie (SA, 32), TJ Perenara (Uncapped); Tendai Mtawarira (SA, 53), Bismarck du Plessis (SA, 57), Matias Diaz (ARG, 3), Manuel Carriza (ARG, 40) Dominic Bird (NZ, 1), Steven Luatua (NZ, 11), Schalk Burger (SA, 68), Duane Vermeulen (SA, 16).
Replacements: Keven Mealamu (NZ, 110), Guillermo Ruan (Uncapped), Coenie Oosthuizen (SA, 14), Luke Whitelock (NZ, 1), Martin Landajo (ARG, 27), Tom Taylor (NZ, 1), Willie le Roux (SA, 12).
That is a team not to be messed with (By recent standards).
I know this post seems like a bit of a Baa Baa’s bashing, but I’m actually a big fan of the idea as long as it’s taken relatively seriously. The team is notorious for it’s drinking culture and the tongue in cheek idea of them spending as much time in the bar as they do on the training field during match week. However, with a man like Steve Hansen at the helm I can’t see the players having an easy ride.
I think for an occasion such as Fiji’s centenary year, a game against a team made up of some of the best players in the game is a fantastic way to celebrate.
I just hope that all players do themselves justice and play a brand of rugby that entertains, like the good old days! (Before my time).