Rugby’s legendary Barbarians take on England for the Old Mutual Wealth Cup on 28th May, and head coach Vern Cotter has announced some stellar names to feature for the visiting invitational team.
Australian legends Adam Ashley-Cooper and Will Genia will join Argentina’s Facundo Ice and Samoa’s Census Johnston – all of whom currently ply their trade in France – in the Barbarians squad for the match in May.
Moreover, 15 cap All Blacks hooker Corey Flynn and Connacht’s Bundee Aki (who qualifies for Ireland on residency later in the year) will both feature in the squad. The centre has been instrumental in the Connacht midfield, and was hugely influential in their run to the PRO12 title last year.
Last year the RFU and England chose to play their annual pre-tour summer match against Wales in a full-blown test fixture rather than face the Baa Baa’s – which broke a yearly tradition of facing the Barbarians at Twickenham that began back in 2001.
As has been the case for many years, the Aviva Premiership final will take place on the Saturday before the England non-cap match, meaning coach Eddie Jones will not be able to select any of his players from the two finalists. England coaches in the past have therefore used this game to test out depth and provide fringe players with an opportunity to wear the white jersey.
The Barbarians will also face Ulster on Thursday 1st June in what will be the final game for both Ruan Pienaar and Roger Wilson before they depart Ravenhill.
Given the quality names already included in the Barbarians squad, however, this is certainly not going to be a walkover for the men in white.
Paul Wassell, Pundit Arena