Matfield: Don't shun BaaBaas

2011-11-27 18:51

London - Springbok legend Victor Matfield launched a far better defence of the Barbarians than the one his side managed on the pitch after their 60-11 thrashing at the hands of Australia at Twickenham on Saturday.

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It was not the way the Barbarians captain would have wanted to bow out of rugby in what was the 110-times capped lock's last match before retirement.

Ever since rugby union turned professional, there have been questions about whether the Barbarians, the 15-man code's leading invitational side and a club with its roots deeply embedded in the amateur era, could still function effectively against the world's top Test teams.

But those doubts appeared to have been dispelled by the club's recent Twickenham triumphs against New Zealand (2009) and South Africa (2010).

Lock forward Matfield, who played in the Barbarians' 25-18 win against the All Blacks in 2009, was in no doubt of the worth of the fixture and the importance of the club's ethos to modern-day rugby.

"When you come up for the Barbarians you don't have a lot of training, so some days you click, other days you struggle a bit," he said.

"Maybe the communication wasn't there, there were one or two slipped tackles and then the other side get momentum and it's hard to stop.

"Australia are a full international side and they know each other pretty well," added the 34-year-old Matfield, now set to pursue a career in broadcasting and as a coaching consultant with former Super Rugby side the Bulls.

"It was a fantastic week and, even though we lost the game by so many points, I will remember it for a long time.

"The Barbarians have won two out of three now in the last three years against the southern hemisphere teams so why shoot them down after one bad game?," added Matfield, one of rugby's greatest lineout jumpers.

"I think it's a fantastic idea and we need this in rugby. It's the only time we really get to know the other top players."

Matfield's words were backed up by Barbarians coaches Graham Henry and Steve Hansen, fresh from guiding their native New Zealand to World Cup glory last month.

Hansen said the fact Australia were using this match as a warm-up for next weekend's full international in Cardiff against Wales - the team they beat in the third place playoff at the World Cup - had a huge impact upon the result.

"Having coached a side that's played the Barbarians and actually lost to them, after four Test matches in four weeks and then having a fifth game, it's a lot different," Hansen explained.

"I agree with Victor. The Barbarians concept is magnificent for rugby and we should hang on to it for as long as we can."

An impressive crowd of more than 51 000 were at Twickenham to see Australia score eight tries to one - from England rugby league star Sam Tomkins - by the Barbarians, who traditionally encourage their players to run the ball whenever possible.

"They came to see people score tries," said Hansen. "Unfortunately, the 'wrong' side scored them but there was plenty of them.

"By playing the style we played you make yourself vulnerable to turnovers and Australia scored a lot of tries through that."

Henry, who bowed out as New Zealand coach after the World Cup, endorsed the Barbarians by saying: "This is a marvellous concept, a unique situation.

"We had 10 different countries representing in the Barbarians today.

"That happens in no other rugby team in the world and if we lose that, we are going to lose something special."


  • Arthur - 2011-11-27 19:38

    VICTOR MATFIELD...what a SUPERSTAR...thanks for the wonderful memories...go well with your next venture

  • goyougoodthing - 2011-11-27 19:43

    Retire already.

  • Bob - 2011-11-27 19:59

    Long Live the Baa-Baas ! They didn't arrive yesterday but when two of the most experienced rugby brains on the planet heartily endorse the concept what more do the Baa-Baa selectors need !! ( (but maybe after y'day --a practice session or two, beforehand might help just a bit ! rgds.Bob Berry (71 years young)

  • Dave - 2011-11-28 01:31

    The Aussies were fantastic, they will be a force to be reckoned with in the future,

  • Albertus - 2011-11-28 07:13

    The BaaBaas all looked hung-over Waste of time - even the best in the world should pay respect to their opponents and practise before a game Isn't Habana just a clown nowadays?

      Michael - 2011-11-28 14:12

      Yes, they were hung-over - and Victor showed it by trying to convert the only try they scored!

  • Francois - 2011-11-28 07:52

    Dit was net Matfield en Mortlock wat gespeel het; die res was daar vir ekstra salaris bonus en lekker kersinkopies in London. As hulle nie n sterker Barbarian span in die vled kan stoot nie; los dit eerder. Dit kon steeds nie lekker gewees het om met 50 plus punte gestamp te word nie.

      Michael - 2011-11-28 09:34

      I thought the Ausies won by 49 points - maybe you were watching another game? - 50+ points?? Or was it the schooling you had?

      Go - 2011-11-28 09:47

      Michael - get a life boet

      Michael - 2011-11-28 14:09

      @Go - why should I? - if you (Francois) want to spew drivel then be prepared to be shot down in flames - facts are facts, not thumb sucks! The FACT is the diff is 49 and NOT 50+ - EASY PEAZY! Get it?

  • Michael - 2011-11-28 14:10

    Victor made a total fool of himself by trying to convert the only try they scored - what a moegoe! It just goes to show what he actually is!

  • Adrian - 2011-11-28 15:22

    The Baa-baas had a weak team in comparison to previous years. Victor Matfield is a fantastic player and a legend, but he is a bad captain. Baa-baa's for the win.

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