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14-man Barbarians humiliate England ahead of Australia tour

Will Skelton became the first player in the history of the Barbarians to be red-carded.

Marcus Smith is surrounded by Barbarians.
Marcus Smith is surrounded by Barbarians.
Image: PA

THE BARBARIANS INFLICTED a crushing 52-21 defeat upon England at Twickenham on Sunday despite playing more than half the match a man down after Will Skelton was sent off.

Skelton became the first player in the history of the Barbarians to see red when the Australia lock was dismissed for a shoulder charge to the head of Exeter prop Patrick Schickerling.

Nevertheless, a Barbarians side comprised mainly of French players and coached by Fabien Galthie, who guided France to a Six Nations Grand Slam this season, still scored eight tries.

France star Damian Penaud crossed twice, with Baptiste Couilloud, Louis Carbonel, Max Spring and Antoine Hastoy also on the scoresheet.

Not even the appearance of scrum-half Danny Care, making his first England outing in nearly four years when he came on as a third-quarter replacement, could turn the tide in this non-cap international match.

England were without several first-choice player following Saturday’s Premiership final between Leicester and Saracens.

And they suffered a setback before kick-off when Alex Dombrandt was ruled out by a knee injury, placing a question mark over the Harlequins back-row’s availability for England’s tour of Australia next month.

England coach Eddie Jones, due to unveil his squad for the three-Test series against the Wallabies on Monday, accepted his team had been well-beaten.

“Obviously we are disappointed with the result,” he told Amazon Prime. “In terms of preparation for the tour, we tried a few different things there and we weren’t good enough.”

The veteran Australian coach added: “There is a big gap between club level and international rugby and some of the guys experienced that today and they will be better for it.”

Such was the Barbarians’ dominance that former England lock George Kruis, in his final match before retirement, kicked three conversions including an outrageous backheel.

- Bennett tribute -

Before kick-off, the Barbarians formed the No 10 as a mark of respect for former Wales fly-half Phil Bennett, whose death at the age of 73 was announced last Sunday.

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Players and spectators then saluted Bennett, who initiated arguably rugby union’s greatest try when side stepping near his own line during the Barbarians’ 1973 win over New Zealand in Cardiff, with a minute’s applause.

Marcus Smith kicked England into an early lead before the Barbarians went ahead through an 18th-minute penalty try awarded against Jonny May for a deliberate knock-on.

Barbarians captain Charles Ollivon extended the lead after picking off a loose Harry Randall pass.

The Barbarians were 14-3 ahead but a three-minute spell during which Skelton was sent off offered hope of an England revival, with fly-half Smith kicking a penalty and wing Joe Cokanasiga crossing for a try.

But in a typically ‘open’ Barbarians game, Penaud and Couilloud capitalised on England errors before wing Penaud scored his second try courtesy of an acrobatic finish.

Smith pulled a try back but the Barbarians finished in style.

Nolann Le Garrec chipped over the defence for Carbonel to touch down and there was even better to come for the Barbarians when Spring crowned a sweeping move before Hastoy completed the rout.

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