LONDON — Robbie Deans went from cursing Danny Cipriani during the match to praising him strongly as the former Wallabies boss reflected on leading the Barbarians to their heaviest ever defeat.
Deans, like his players, appeared fairly shellshocked from the 73-12 thrashing the tourists took at the hands of an England side made up of fringe players.
He was powerless as his side were torn apart in painful, emphatic fashion by an impressive bunch of World Cup wannabes who thrilled the home crowd with a 10-try display. Wasps wing Christian Wade grabbed a hat-trick.
The Barbarians’ previous heaviest defeat was 59-8 to the British and Irish Lions in Hong Kong in 2013. Flyhalf Cipriani, who is third choice behind George Ford and Owen Farrell, also went over for two tries and his 33-point personal haul was the highest by any England individual against the Barbarians.
Former Wasps man Cipriani has revived his international career after a disjointed career filled with serious injury and off-the-field problems that led him to be dumped by former England head coach Martin Johnson for a lack of discipline. Now, he is one of Stuart Lancaster’s summer training camp party, set to meet up in three weeks time.
And Deans insisted: “Cipriani was great. He would have loved that ride. He got out there and took his chances really well. He’s clearly a bloke who has worked really hard over a long period of time.
“That’s a good indicator of where he is at and all credit to him. I expect Stuart will be looking at him and the fact he made 100% off his boot today will not do him any harm.
There was little for Deans and the Barbarians to salvage from such an embarrassing and damaging defeat with captain Brad Thorn, playing the final game of his career at the age of 40 before taking up a coaching role with Reds, scoring a try but also being sin binned at the end for a tip tackle on England replacement prop Alex Waller.
Former All Black lock Thorn walked off with a wry smile to miss the final 10 minutes and Deans said: “It was harsh on Brad because he certainly didn’t deserve to finish such an illustrious career like that. He played very well.”
Having beaten Ireland two days earlier, Deans felt it was one challenge too many and admitted: “Two games in four days isn’t easy. Two games in four days against teams with players chasing World Cup spots has always the potential to be very challenging.
“The England fringe players played well. Looking up at the half-time scoreboard [45-5] was a surreal circumstance but I was proud of the way the boys arrested the game at the start of the second half because it was certainly looking pretty ugly.
“We were consistent with our philosophy, kept throwing the ball around, attacking and giving everyone a run out.
“I was pleased with that response, we’ve won one international this week but not two. It was all about momentum. We were competitive early but then went down to 14 men and England got on the front foot and scored a lot of points.”
England head coach Lancaster said: “A lot of the boys have enhanced their prospects with the way they have handled themselves this week and their performances.
“Danny kicked 11 out of 11, which is excellent. He has learnt discipline from Sale and understands the mechanics of playing at number 10 and improved himself.
“Overall we have made good progress and we will now even more progress once the guys come into camp on June 22. We will take 45 players to Denver for the altitude training.”