Regan row set to rumble on
November 28, 2007
Mark Regan today maintained his collision course with Bristol by pledging his commitment to the Barbarians' clash with South Africa on Saturday.
The stand-off continued this afternoon when the Barbarians confirmed Regan would lead the side out at Twickenham after handing him the captaincy and hooking duties.
Bristol are opposed to their combative England front row participating in the match, even though their EDF Energy Cup clash with Leeds on Sunday is a dead rubber.
Premier Rugby had forbidden any player from their 12 members clubs from taking place in the fixture against the Springboks to protect the integrity of the Anglo-Welsh Cup.
The sensitivity of the issue prompted organisers to prevent Regan from taking his place alongside coach Eddie O'Sullivan at today's press conference to announce the team.
But the 35-year-old read out a statement confirming his determination to play for the Barbarians - a move that Bristol are likely to meet with disciplinary action.
Regan said: ``I was asked to captain the Barbarians and it's a massive honour to do that.
``It's going to be a great day for me and my family to lead out a star-studded side at Twickenham.
``It will be a great birthday present for my daughter. Both my daughters are mascots.''
The withdrawal of Regan's England team-mate Andrew Sheridan from the squad was confirmed this morning.
Sale demanded Sheridan play in Friday's cup clash with Leicester and the Barbarians allowed the destructive loosehead to make the final decision, even though they claim contractually he is obliged to play for them.
Mike Burton, a leading agent and Barbarians committee member involved in assembling the squad, declared the cases were judged on their merits.
And former England prop Burton revealed changes will be made to the selection process in light of the row over player availability.
He said: ``We don't want conflict with anyone. For the sake of good relations in the future we want the clubs to nominate players.
``We did not climb down over Andrew. Andrew did not want to be in conflict with his club.
``I told him Sale were in breach of contract and asked him if he wanted to take it any further. But he said `no'.
``We can't deny Mark in the autumn of his career. It's his little girl's birthday and we are going to soldier it through.
``We don't want to be in conflict with anybody but we'll speak to Bristol next week and fight Mark's corner.
``In my experience of employment law this is a pretty minor offence.''
The disputes have overshadowed what should have been a day of exciting news - namely the availability of Jason Robinson and the strength of the Barbarians team.
Robinson has been suffering from the dislocated shoulder sustained during last month's World Cup final but is expected to be fit for his last competitive match.
The England cross-code star will receive a rousing farewell from adoring fans at Twickenham and O'Sullivan was pleased to deliver a positive medical bulletin.
He said: ``Jason has made a remarkable recovery. He has worked incredibly hard to be fit for this game.
``He's wanted to play for the Barbarians for a long period of time and he was determined to make himself available.
``He had a run out last night and today and he's confident that he'll be okay for the game.''
The hugely impressive Barbarians starting line-up features five All Blacks, including prolific winger Joe Rokocoko, and Wallaby Matt Giteau at fly-half.
Clubless former Northampton winger Ben Cohen, stuck in limbo following the collapse of his move to Leicester, is named on the bench.
Barbarians team to face South Africa at Twickenham on Saturday December 1 (1500):
J Robinson (England), J Rokocoko (Blues & New Zealand), C Smith (Hurricanes & New Zealand), M Nonu (Hurricanes & New Zealand), I Neivua (Warriors & Fiji), M Giteau (Western Force & Australia), J Marshall (Ospreys & New Zealand), F Pucciarello (Munster & Italy), M Regan (captain, Bristol & England), S Ma'afu (Brumbies), B Cockbain (Wales), J Harrison (Ulster & Australia), R Elsom (Waratahs & Australia), M Williams (Cardiff & Wales), J Collins (Hurricanes & New Zealand).
Replacements: S Brits (Stormers), J D Moller (Stormers), T Flavell (Blues & New Zealand), M Owen (Dragons & Wales), T Shanklin (Cardiff & Wales), P Grant (Stormers), B Cohen (England).