Barbarians hark back to less serious times, says David Flatman
Sunday sees the curtain fall on the rugby season in England as an Eddie Jones XV takes on the globetrotters of oval ball in the Barbarians.
The side are put together with little preparation and aim to please the masses, and former England international David Flatman says this year will be no different.
“The pure sports fan in all of us wants there to be a ban on kicking and enforced offloading in every contact regardless of who has won the collision,” he told City A.M.
“I’ve played in these games and they’re great but they’re also a headache – there’s so many lads there who could humiliate you.
“England will try and demonstrate at least a version of how they want to play against Australia next month.”
With a three-Test tour on the horizon, Jones will no doubt have an eye on Down Under. But against a side of over 300 international caps, managed by Six Nations winning coach Fabian Galthie, winning is key because the Baabaas will be keen to spoil the party.
“There’s a lot of French influence in there, a lot of Carte Blanche, a lot of relying on talent – and they have so much talent,” Flatman added.
“They’ve got George Kruis who will help with their line out and they’re unlikely to get bullied because they’ve got Will Skelton.
“The back row is a joke [Dylan Cretin, Levani Botia and Charles Ollivon]. I once watched Botia play centre, flanker and full-back in the same game and he was the best player in all three positions.
“Cretin is amazing but Charles Ollivon for me is like the complete weapon – a Swiss army knife. He’s also potentially the most physically attractive men’s rugby player in the world which annoys me a bit.”
The Baabaas beat England 63-45 in 2020 which included a hat-trick from Chris Ashton – a potential humiliation Jones has avoided by picking in-form scrum-half Danny Care after he was tipped to represent the touring side.
This year the side have moved from their London base to Monaco for a week, and with the traditions and culture of the side, it could be an interesting pre-match build up.
“[If it were me] I’d just get pissed every day,” Flatman said. “There’s lots of chat about removing infinite water carriers but I would make them unlimited for this game because there’s going to be a lot of lads turning up to Twickenham dehydrated.
“That’s part of the fun, you have ultimate professionalism from England versus an almost casual amateur approach from the Barbarians and there’s an undeniable romance about it. It harks back to when stuff was less serious and that’s always appealing.”
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