Baa-Baas clash has to end – Sir Clive
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.”