Baa Baas v Wallabies – lambs to the slaughterhouse
Even watching the Wallabies – Barbarians clash from over sixteen thousand kilometres away, you could feel the immense sense of relief from the majority of the fifty thousand strong crowd at Twickenham after referee Romain Poite blew his whistle for full time.
The Wallabies had just inflicted one of the heaviest, and most embarassing, defeats on the Barbarians with an eight tries to one rout.
At a quick glance at the experienced, but ageing, line-up of the Barbarians, there was optimism they would provide Robbie Deans and the Wallabies a stern test.
Put simply, the Barbarians outfit was a disgrace.
Watching O’Connor and co. slice their way through the crumbling Baa Baas defence reminded me of watching Australia pummel Namibia at the 2003 World Cup.
It was painful to watch and the groans from the crowd grew louder with each Wallabies try.
One has to wonder why coach Graham Henry selected five All Blacks players, who were all at the World Cup, for this match. As Sky Sports commentator Stuart Barnes remarked, these five players had achieved the “rugby equivalent of climbing Mount Everest”.
Even a World Cup-winning coach like Henry couldn’t possibly motivate these players to perform after achieving such a monumental feat in New Zealand less than a month ago.
And then there were the other veterans (Perugini, Shaw, White, Rabeni, Bortolami, Stringer) who were simply out-run, out-muscled and out-enthused by a full-strength Wallabies team.
These players all passed their peaks a long time ago and should never have been selected for the Barbarians in 2011.
From the wreckage that was this Barbarians match, only a handful of players (Matfield, Mortlock, Tomkins, Kahui) emerged with their reputations unscathed.
For the Barbarians to be competitive in future fixtures, they must somehow negotiate the top players to be given a one-week release by their professional clubs in Europe.
If not, the Barbarians coach must hand out his invitations wisely, even selecting a few players from the so-called ‘minnow’ nations who don’t play in the top-tier leagues.
Players that immediately spring to mind include Todd Clever (USA), Denis Simplikevich (Russia) and Michael Leitch (Japan). They would relish the opportunity and play their hearts out, guaranteed.
The next Barbarians coach must not only respect the opposition, but the Barbarians itself, and field a side that won’t get ripped to shreds.
For on the weekend there was no passion. No commitment. No resistance.
Indeed they were like lambs sent to the slaughterhouse.
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