If there was one team in the world, men’s or women’s, that could top the drama of last weekend’s heart-stopping set of Autumn Nations Series fixtures and November internationals, it is the Barbarians.
And the good news is that they are in action this coming Saturday in the second doubleheader of its kind at Twickenham Stadium. Just as was the way back in June 2019, the Barbarian men’s and women’s teams will play on the same day, back-to-back.
Renowned for their adventurous, carefree brand of rugby, the Barbarians have been wowing fans for the past 131 years in the men’s game and four in the women’s.
And the fact that both teams draw on players with differing levels of experience from a multitude of countries only adds to the appeal.
But what else will make this an occasion to remember for those there at Twickenham in person, or watching elsewhere, on BBC TV for the men’s game, or online for the women’s, via World Rugby’s live streaming service?
More international rugby
First and foremost, it’s one of the few remaining opportunities we’ll get to see international rugby before the year is out. And after last weekend’s events, surely no-one wants the season to end!
While this is not classed as a test in name as it is a Samoa XV that will take to the Twickenham turf rather than the full national team, it will feel like it in every other way for the European-based Samoan players involved.
The Barbarians’ fixture is the only match to be played from Samoa’s cancelled end-of-year tour of Europe due to COVID-19 restrictions, and those pulling on the blue jersey won’t be holding anything back. Samoa were set to play Georgia, Uruguay, Spain but they fell by the wayside.
So far on their European tour, they have lost 46-3 to France and 29-19 to Wales but their most recent outing, against England U20 Women, was a 38-5 win and they will be desperate to build on the momentum.
Look out for the crazy-legged runs of Sinoti Sinoti, a player so good they named him twice!
A firm fans’ favourite while at Newcastle Falcons in the English Premiership, it will surprise many people watching on Saturday that he only has nine caps to his name.
Joe Tekori doesn’t quite have the same legendary status of five-time Rugby World Cup participant and World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee, Brian Lima, few people do. But the immensely powerful forward isn’t far off and this Saturday gives him another opportunity to represent the country that he has served at three Rugby World Cups.
Fond farewells for Irish duo
Retiring Ireland stars Ciara Griffin and Lindsay Peat will play against international opposition one last time at Twickenham Stadium for the famed invitational side that only comes together once in a while. Both enjoyed winning swansongs with Ireland, Griffin scoring twice in the narrow 15-12 victory against Japan last weekend,
Griffin and Peat will be joined by former Ireland teammates Sene Naoupu, Anna Caplice and Jenny Murphy, while the Barbarians men’s team has two Irishmen in their southern hemisphere-dominated line-up, former British and Irish Lions full-back Rob Kearney and Leinster’s uncapped second-row, Jack Dunne.
Now that his Super Rugby adventure with Western Force is over, Kearney, 35, announced this week that the Barbarians encounter would be the last time he takes to the pitch. Kearney won 98 caps for Ireland and the British and Irish Lions and will be remembered as one of the best full-backs of his age for his fearlessness under the high ball and his ability to counter-attack from deep.
Meanwhile, former England duo, Katy Daley-Mclean and Rocky Clark will get to experience the adrenaline buzz of the big occasion once again, despite having called it a day with the Red Roses.