By Alan Dymock
A FEW weeks ago the Twitter-viewing public were agog as they stared at the first few names released by the Barbarians for their summer games against England and the British and Irish Lions this summer.
Today, though, there are even more star turns twisting through the list. Dai Young’s BaaBaas are amassing an impressive elite squad and they are not done yet.
Uncapped stars like Ulster’s Jared Payne and Wasps’ young flanker Sam Jones are joined by international heavyweights like Joe Rokocoko, James Hook, Alessandro Zanni, Paul James and Jim Hamilton in the Barbarian ranks. With the best of Britain and Ireland being played at the start of next month, much has already been made of the exclusion of Hook, Hamilton and James by Lions’ Warren Gatland.
Many will hope for an element of grudge and nudge amidst the flipped passes and ‘giving it a lash’ from their own try-line.
Also rocking the black and white hoops will be the previously heralded ‘Expendables’ of Martin Castrogiovanni, Imanol Harinordoquy, Sergio Parisse, Mike Tindall and Nick Evans – unfortunately Jaque Fourie has pulled out of the squad – and they will also be supported by the likes of quicker-than-a-hare-on-a-Harley Takudzwa Ngwenya and half-backs Dimitri Yachvili and Kahn Fotuali’i.
In this month’s Rugby World, Barbarians’ head coach Young said of the assembly of superstars: “People tend to listen to their peers more than the headmaster’s view.
“I love being part of the international games, but to coach against the Lions is something special, once in a lifetime. This is the biggest game the Barbarians have had in a long time and I’m absolutely thrilled to be involved.”
There are more names to be finalized in the coming days with international squads announced this week for their summer tours, and players involved in Top 14, RaboDirect and Aviva Premiership playoffs deciding whether they can face more contact.
The historic collective will certainly be raising their game for the game against the Lions in Hong Kong and with such big names it is increasingly unlikely the first match at Twickenham will be a dowdy, austere affair.
You can catch them against England on May 26 and they face the Lions on their first tour outing on June 1.
BaaBaas squad as it stands:
Backs: Jared Payne (Ulster) Rowan Varty (DeA Tigers & Hong Kong) Takudzwa Ngwenya (Bairritz Olympique & USA) Joe Rokocoko (Bayonne & New Zealand) James Hook (Perpignan & Wales) Nick Evans (Harlequins & New Zealand) Kahn Fotuali’i (Ospreys & Samoa) Dwayne Peel (Sale Sharks & Wales) Dimitri Yachvili (Biarritz Olympique & France)
Forwards: Duncan Jones (Ospreys & Wales) B J Botha (Munster & South Africa) Paul James (Bath Rugby & Wales) Martin Castrogiovanni (Leicester & Italy) Matthew Rees (Scarlets & Wales) Leonardo Ghiraldini (Benetton Treviso & Italy) Marco Wentzel (London Wasps & South Africa) Jim Hamilton (Gloucester Rugby & Scotland) Francois Louw (Bath Rugby & South Africa) Sam Jones (London Wasps) Alessandro Zanni (Benetton Treviso & Italy) Sergio Parisse (Stade Francais & Italy) Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz Olympique & France)
David Young (Wasps)
Player/Assistant coach: Mike Tindall (Gloucester Rugby & England)
Find out what else Wasps’ and Barbarians’ Dai Young had to say in the June edition of Rugby World. Don’t forget to buy your copy – it’s on sale Now!