England v Barbarians: rugby union – live! | rugby union

A nice touch: The Barbarians form a No 10, with nine or 10 players in a straight line and the rest standing in a circle next to them, to pay tribute to the late Phil Bennett.

Watch out for the Australian Will Skeltona fearsome presence in the Barbarians’ second row, and of course Charles Ollivon, the France back-row … the teams are striding out on to the pitch now, all hand-in-hand with young mascots.

A dressing room camera shot shows the Barbarians team all pacing around like caged tigers as they prepare to take the field. They look up for this.

Another England player to look out for is Tommy Freeman, the full-back, who had a fine season for Northampton.

From Eddie Jones’s perspective it’s safe to assume he’s telling his players to show no mercy to a Barbarians side who have, by their own admission, done more socializing than training to prepare for this match. But will the BaaBaas throw the shackles off and play some rugby? Let’s hope so.

The England coach Eddie Jones has a chat with Amazon, firstly about the late change to his team: “He [Dombrandt] got a bit of a whack on his knee in training on Friday … he’ll need to have a scan on Monday and that’s all we know.

“Everything’s a step, you want to be stepping in the right direction … it’s a nice opportunity for our players to show their skills … there’ll be a big gap between this game and their normal club game. It’ll be good to see who can adapt to it.

“Danny Care is pretty happy and he’s been great in camp, he’s come back with a really good attitude, and he’s in good physical condition, so we’ll see where the game takes him.

“They [the Barbarians] may or may not throw the ball around, they may or may not kick the ball a lot, we’ll just have to adjust.”

Shaun Edwards (the Barbarians defense coach) reveals Galthié’s approach to the week with the Barbarians: “Fabien said: “When we’re training, we’re training … and when we’re not training, we’re not training.”

“We had two pretty decent [training] sessions, one in Monaco and one in London, and then a team run in Hyde Park yesterday. It was different, I will say that.

“We’ve prepared a bit like it’s a Test match… when we’ve trained, we’ve trained really hard.”

Fabien Galthié is asked about his Barbarians experience: “So eccentric, so funny … it’s the Barbarians with a French accent.”

Will we see French flair today? “It depends on George Kruis, he’s the boss of the French players.”

He’s joking of course. It’s all about the banter today.


The headline with regard to team news is that Alex Dombrandt was meant to start for England at No 8 but has been ruled out by a late knee injury. Callum Chick of Newcastle comes into the starting lineup, having not been in the 22 initially.

England: Freeman, Cokanasiga, Marchant, Atkinson, May, Smith, Randall, Rodd, Walker, Collier, Ewels, J. Hill, Curry, Underhill, Chick. Replacements: Singleton, Goodrick-Clarke, Schickerling, Lawes, Willis, Care, Bailey, Nowell.

Barbarians: Spring, Penaud, Vakatawa, Botia, Niniashvili, Hastoy, Couilloud, Gros, Bourgarit, Gigashvili, Kruis, Skelton, Cretin, Ollivon, Tanga. Replacements: Priso, Tolofua, Falatea, Lavault, Le Garrec, Carbonel, Macalou, Vili.

The scrum-half Danny Care has a chat in a pre-recorded interview: “I felt like the new kid again [being back in camp at Pennyhill Park] …I’ve loved every single second. It is intense, you work hard, but that’s what it takes to play for England.

“I’ve had to work really hard to battle through and get back in the mix… to be back in camp has been a surreal experience but one I’ve really, really loved.”

Wisely, Amazon Prime have just replayed that Barbarians try against the All Blacks, all started by Phil Bennett, who died a few days ago. It’s jaw-dropping every time you see it. And there are some nice words from David Flatman and Bryan Habana about the great man.

Live on Amazon Prime, Will Skelton is asked what it’s been like being involved with the Barbarians this week: “It’s been pretty shit, eh? … No I’m kidding, it’s been unbelievable, but we’ve had a few beers this week, and hopefully we can back it up today.

“We’re going to look to have some fun with the ball, but make sure we’re playing in the right areas.

“’Kruiso’ [George Kruis, who is retiring after this match] is one of my good mates, I’ve played a lot of footie with him … he’s been telling us, today is all about me … No, I’m kidding … to play with Kruiso in his last match , hopefully we can make it a memorable memory.”


The domestic rugby season concluded yesterday, and in dramatic fashion too, with Freddie Burns’ last-minute drop goal edging Leicester past Saracens at Twickenham. The notion of giving the players a rest is obviously ridiculous, however, so England begin their summer program against a French-dominated Barbarians in south-west London this afternoon.

The Barbarians concept may be old-fashioned, and today’s match does not have Test status, but there is still plenty to play for: not least for the Harlequins scrum-half Danny Care, poised to play for England for the first time in four years following a clear-the-air coffee with the gaffer Eddie Jones. Jonny May also returns on the wing following a lengthy injury absence, hoping to re-establish himself before next year’s World Cup. It will also be fascinating to see how the likes of Orlando Bailey (Bath) and Patrick Schickerling (Exeter) fare when introduced from the replacements’ bench.

The Barbarians team is peppered with world-class Frenchmen, such as Damien Penaud and Charles Ollivon, while the former England and Saracens lock George Kruis will bring the curtain down on his career, at the age of 32, after two seasons in Japan. Will Skelton, so outstanding for La Rochelle in their Champions Cup final triumph against Leinster, partners Kruis in the second row. This might be fun.

Kick off: 3pm

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