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3 days on and Stuart Barnes' Twitter war...

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3 days on and Stuart Barnes' Twitter war over Warburton refuses to let up

The controversy surrounding Stuart Barnes’ remarks in the wake of Sam Warburton’s retirement shows no sign of letting up, with the Sky Sports pundit continuing to joust with Welsh fans online in an increasingly bitter battle.

Capped 74 times by Wales and a further five by the British & Irish Lions, Warburton led his country for a record 49 times.

On Wednesday his retirement from the game at 29-years-old took the global rugby community by surprise, and Barnes was one of the first to react.

After offering his condolences and congratulations to Warburton, Barnes dropped something of a Twitter bomb.

“You could knock his game but he understood it was okay as long as the stick wasn’t personal and it could never be that as he is such a decent man. Great player? No. Great influence? Definitely”

The comment has inflamed a huge swathe of mainly Welsh rugby fans.

The outspoken pundit and commentator is refusing to back down after expressing what could be best described as reasonably held opinion. Both what Barnes said and the timing have been widely criticised.

Continue reading below…

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Even a former teacher of Warburton’s – a retired professional player and Warburton’s coach at Whitchurch High School – Steve Williams, has criticised the Barnes, claiming he’s was being needlessly controversial.

“Stuart’s comments were unnecessary, all of his reporting and punditry always has to be controversial in order to draw attention to himself,” Williams told Wales Online. “It’s always the same thing, he says this and that, but there’s always something that tweaks the tail.”

And, three days on, the former England international is continuing to defend his stance on the social media platform, choosing to quote RT numerous followers and responding in kind.

To one poster he responded: “I am not courting popularity. The day I do is the day I stop being me. Honestly, do you think SW would be offended because someone doesn’t think him great?”

To another “Who kicked up a stink! Not me. Read this row back and find any fault other than expressing a contrary view I happen to have always believed. Conformity is a dangerous tool.”

The fact Barnes said he preferred Irish flanker Sean O’Brien due to his ball carrying ability was also a point of mucb debate, with one poster questioning rhetorically how many times O’Brien captained the Lions. “And your point is? I captained the Lions a few times in 1993 but I don’t claim anything but good memories. Captaincy isn’t proof of greatness”

In fact Barnes has expressed his preference for O’Brien over Warburton previously, including during the 2013 Lions tour.

Things got quite personal too, with Barnes being labelled ‘unpopular’ to which the former Lions captain said: “Rather be a man than a sheep. My friends are loyal and good people. That’ll do for me”

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3 days on and Stuart Barnes' Twitter war over Warburton refuses to let up | RugbyPass