Victor Matfield, Danny Cipriani and Jamie Roberts are among the first batch of star-studded names to accept invitations to play for the Barbarians against newly-crowned Tri-Nations’ champions Australia at Twickenham on Saturday 26 November.
Matfield led the Barbarians to victory over New Zealand in 2009 and his second appearance in the club’s colours has the added spice of the inclusion of his Blue Bulls and Springbok team-mate Bakkies Botha alongside him at lock. They have created a legendary partnership since they first played together for South Africa in 2002 and are set to pack down for a last time at representative level as Barbarians.
Matfield said, “My sights are firmly set on a successful Rugby World Cup campaign with South Africa in New Zealand but after that there is no better way to sign off in the northern hemisphere than another game for the Barbarians against international opposition at Twickenham”.
Roberts will be joined in a particularly strong Barbarians’ back division by fellow Welshman Stephen Jones who, like Cipriani, will be making his Barbarians’ debut, plus All Black Sonny Bill Williams and former Wallabies’ captain Stirling Mortlock.
Already confirmed to join Matfield and Botha among the forwards are Wales’ number 8 Ryan Jones and New Zealand hooker Keven Mealamu.
Barbarians’ chairman John Spencer said, “Our annual autumn matches against South Africa, New Zealand and, this November, Australia are a major attraction in the calendar and that is particularly the case this year with no other pre-Christmas international at Twickenham.”
He added, “Player recruitment is going very well and we are confident that the final 22 will feature many more big names that will be making headlines in New Zealand in the next few weeks”.
John O’Neill, managing director and CEO of the Australian Rugby Union, said, “We look forward to reigniting our rivalry with the Barbarians at Twickenham after the Rugby World Cup. We will of course, as we always do when visiting Europe, be travelling with our best available talent.”
Tickets for Barbarians v Australia on 26 November 2011, kick-off 2.30pm., are now available from www.ticketmaster.co.uk