James O’Connor, here eluding Seru Rabeni, has given the Wallabies a genuine new option at fly-half

OUCH. The Barbarians-Australia match (11-60) proved a damp squib, with the Baa-Baas losing interest after they got too far adrift on the scoreboard early in the second half. The number of missed or half-hearted tackles was shocking and their failure to execute a simple two-on-one embarrassing, writes Alan Pearey.

The guy from the NZ Herald summed it up: “The Baa-Baas were so bad they couldn’t even transfer the ball via the hands from one player to the next – known in some quarters as a pass. Not on the same page? Some of these guys were reading Solzhenitsyn, some Seuss.”

It was a true baptism of fire for league star Sam Tomkins (who took his try well), and a commendable first start at ten for Wallaby James O’Connor, who looked a natural in the position and kicked 20 points. But he may have to alter his kicking style after Peter Stringer was allowed to shut down one of his conversions. O’Connor waves his foot a bit to steady himself and some opponents interpret this as the start of his run-up, so they start racing off the try-line to charge him down.

It provided a light-hearted moment in a game full of tries but devoid of thrills. “It’d have been better if the Aussies had played Harlequins,” remarked one spectator. More of a contest, yes, but less of a draw – 51,000 is a decent crowd in anyone’s book.

I watched the game with some guys from le coq sportif, the French company who sponsor the Wallabies. They’re the official boot partner (the boots are green and yellow) but in practice lots of players have individual contracts. At the recent World Cup only one team adopted a single boot brand – New Zealand wearing adidas.

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