The South African Springboks fell short in their revenge match against the fabled Barbarian Football Club this weekend in Twickenham Stadium, London. The South Africans fell to the invitational team, 26-20 in a game that resembled more of a blow-out until the last ten minutes on the field.
As expected, and not a surprise to any reader of the SuperSite and anyone other than the overrated pseudo-player himself, “Rugby Super Duper Overrated Part-time Player” Gavin Henson did not take the field for the Barbarians. However, the Barbarians were fielding a team that might be better described as a Southern Hemisphere All-Star team, consisting of six New Zealanders and six Australians, including All Black winger Joe Rokocoko and Australian wing Drew Mitchell and Australia’s other wing James O’Conner filling in at fullback.
The Barbarians poured on the offense in the first quarter of the match, jumping to a 19-3 lead in the 22nd minute thanks to two tries by weakside wing Drew Mitchell in the fifth and 20th minutes, and a try and two conversion kicks by fullback James O’Conner. Mitchell’s second try in the 20th minute capped a five-minute scoring flurry for the Barbarians. The Baa-Baas (as the Barbarians are known throughout the Rugby Universe) added another try by Italian replacement lock Quintin Geldenhuys midway through the second half to cement the victory.
The match really wasn’t as close as the score indicates. The Barbarians were still up 19-3 going into the half, and while the Springboks were able to tighten the score to 19-10 just after halftime, it took a final ten-minute attacking push from the South Africans to finally pull the score to a respectable six-point loss at the end of the game, thanks to a unconverted Botha try in the 69th minute, and a try by replacement hooker Bandise Maku, that also went unconverted just before time expired.
Personal Note: The Springboks didn’t appear to take this match as seriously as the rest of their matches in their Anglo-Celtic tour, much to my disappointment. I have to question the wisdom, as I so often do for this particular coach, of Springboks coach Peter DeVillers for essentially replacing his entire 21-11 winning starting lineup from the previous week’s match against England. Only three players from that squad took the field against the Barbarians, including Bakkies Botha, who one could only hope wouldn’t headbutt, or mount, or try to bite the ear off of anyone on the Barbarians side.
Years ago the Barbarians would have been planned for as much as any other international match. The Barbarians were created as kind of an All-Star Invitational team where the players were given the honor to play for the team. It was created and grown in the true spirit of rugby, where people could get together to just play for the love of the game. And in recent years, it strikes me that this lack of planning for them is a slap in the face to the organization.