England XV v Barbarians
Barbarians out to restore tarnished reputation
May 29, 2014
The Barbarians break off from training in London for a selfie © Getty Images
Dean Ryan has challenged the Barbarians to restore the standing and relevance of the world-famous invitational side in Sunday's Twickenham clash against the England XV.
The Barbarians reputation has been slightly dented in the last few years. Last summer Clive Woodward dismissed a game played by the British Lions against them in Kong Kong as "a waste of time" and recent end-of-season encounters at Twickenham have failed to spark.
Ryan, who is coaching the side this week, said: "I think everyone has a responsibility to make this fixture competitive because the history of the Barbarians is there, but the here and now needs to be looked after as much as everything else. And that requires the group respecting what's gone on in the past, but also being aware of their responsibility to act here and now. And that's something we've impressed upon the group.
"We're aware of times when that hasn't gone well, and this group have articulated that they are pretty keen to separate themselves from that, and put in a competitive fixture. Because it's crucial to the success of something, we all marvel at this group, the fact that we can bring this group together under the same banner should not be lost.
"But then it shouldn't be lost on the responsibility of those involved to ensure they maintain it, and that's something we've expressed very clearly."
Ryan said he stopped short of a drinking ban ahead of the match but challenged the players themselves to meet high standards. "I think everyone's got individual responsibilities, the nature of this isn't coming under me or anyone else, everyone who comes here has a responsibility to maintain what the Barbarians is about.
"Part of that is getting to know the 23 people involved in the week before, and build relationships, but that has to be balanced with it being a competitive fixture. But it must be about balance: We haven't turned up with 45 computers and analysed England, it's not about that either. It only works if it is a balance and the players individually recognise their responsibility on Sunday."
Lyon and Argentina flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon will captain a line-up boasting more than 700 international appearances. Ireland and British Lions lock Donncha O'Callaghan will make his Barbarians debut in a starting line-up containing five All Blacks.
England are missing as many as 45 players thanks to Saturday's Aviva Premiership final and the first Test against New Zealand on June 7. "This England side might be a few chunks down the conveyor belt because of other fixtures and commitments, but it still looks extremely healthy," Ryan said. "It shows an extremely healthy picture of rugby in England."
Barbarians J M Hernandez (Racing Metro, Argentina), J Rokocoko (Bayonne, New Zealand), R Ranger (Montpellier, New Zealand), B Stanley (Clermont, New Zealand), H Gear (Toulouse, New Zealand), B James (Clermont), J Cowan (Gloucester, New Zealand), S Taumalolo (Perpignan, Tonga), T Paulo (Clermont, Samoa), D Kubriashvili (Stade Francais, Georgia), D O'Callaghan (Munster, Ireland), J Kruger (Racing Metro, South Africa), J M Leguizamon (Lyon, Argentina, capt), A Lapandry (Clermont, France), M Gorgodze (Montpellier, Georgia)
Replacements: A Hore (Maniototo, New Zealand), J Brugnaut (Racing Metro, France), N Lobo (Toulouse, Samoa), J Tekori (Toulouse, Samoa), R Wilson (Ulster, Ireland), T Cubelli (Belgrano, Argentina), F Trinh-Duc (Montpellier, France), A Tuitavake (Montpellier, New Zealand)
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