Baa-Baas clash has to end – Sir Clive

Western Mail - - SPORT -

SIR Clive Wood­ward has called for the an­nual Eng­land v Bar­bar­ians match to be scrapped and in­sisted the fa­mous in­vi­ta­tional side has no place at the top of the pro­fes­sional game.

The former Eng­land chief’s com­ments come days after Eng­land were hu­mil­i­ated 63-45 at Twick­en­ham by the star-stud­ded Baa-Baas, with Welsh­man Justin Tipuric play­ing a lead role.

The vis­i­tors ran in nine tries, as Eng­land ex­ile Chris Ash­ton claimed three in a match that has left English rugby reel­ing two weeks be­fore a Test series in South Africa that has taken on ma­jor im­por­tance fol­low­ing their sur­prise Six Na­tions col­lapse just a few months ago.

But Wood­ward says it is un­fair to crit­i­cise Eng­land’s play­ers, adding on Twit­ter: “The Baa Baas are a throw­back to all that was wrong with the am­a­teur game and has no place at the top level of pro­fes­sional rugby. Sun­day’s game was em­bar­rass­ing to pro­fes­sional rugby and pro­fes­sional sport.”

In his Daily Mail col­umn, Wood­ward wrote: “Many rugby fans en­joyed some of the Bar­bar­ians’ spec­tac­u­lar tries at Twick­en­ham, but frankly I was not one of them.

“I have felt for some time that this an­nual fix­ture serves no pur­pose for Eng­land in an in­creas­ingly crowded cal­en­dar and I am now cer­tain it should be scrapped.

“I speak as a Bar­bar­ian who en­joyed a ca­reer high­light with them in 1981 when we won the Hong Kong Sevens. I to­tally get their ethos and traditions, but they must fac­tor in who they are play­ing and the image they are set­ting in a global game.

“This Bar­bar­ians game came at a re­ally bad time for Eng­land and les­sons should be learned.

“The Eng­land guys got a slat­ing in the me­dia af­ter­wards, but I gen­uinely felt sorry for them and would at­tribute ab­so­lutely zero im­por­tance to their per­for­mances on the day in terms of Eng­land se­lec­tion.

“Ques­tions should be asked not of the play­ers but of the RFU for put­ting them through such an im­pos­si­ble af­ter­noon.

“As Eng­land coach I used to hate our Bar­bar­ians game ev­ery May. You don’t know how to pre­pare for them and I was just glad to get through them with­out se­ri­ous in­juries. It has no role in Eng­land’s plans for next year’s World Cup.

“If it’s a cir­cus that Twick­en­ham and the Bar­bar­ians want then, of course, they can have it – but no cur­rent se­nior in­ter­na­tional, or the Eng­land shirt, should be sub­jected to it.

“This slot should be used to pro­mote and re­ward unions such as Ge­or­gia and the Pa­cific Is­lands and I am con­fi­dent the English pub­lic would equally sup­port such games.”

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