Barbarians name a star-studded Top 14 XV to face England on Sunday
Fabien Galthie has named a star-studded Barbarians team skippered by Charles Ollivon to take on England this Sunday at Twickenham. Fourteen of the XV that will play against Eddie Jones’ side in this pre-Australian tour warm-up play their club rugby in the Top 14, with ex-England lock George Kruis the sole exception.
Three recent Heineken Champions Cup winners with La Rochelle have been chosen by the France boss Galthie – midfielder Levani Botia, hooker Pierre Bourgarit and second row Will Skelton who this week amused RugbyPass Offload listeners with his greatly entertaining guest appearance on the show.
Also included by the Barbarians are a clutch of Test team stars from Galthie’s Grand Slam-winning France, the likes of winger Damien Penaud, loosehead Jean-Baptiste Gros and back-rower Dylan Cretin. Baa-Baas skipper Ollivon, who was last year’s France skipper until suffering a serious injury, will lead the invitational team from openside.
The Barbarians XV also has a Georgian flavour as Davit Niniashvili, the Lyon winger who clashed with Springboks lock Eben Etzebeth in the recent Challenge Challenge Cup final, and tighthead Beka Gigashvili have been selected.
The Barbarians will be hoping it is a case of third time lucky when it comes to this weekend at Twickenham as their previous two matches at the English rugby HQ were cancelled.
The scheduled match versus England in October 2020 was called off two days in advance after it emerged that 13 players had broken team protocols, while last November’s game with Samoa fell by the wayside on matchday due to a virus outbreak.
BARBARIANS (vs England, Sunday)
15. Max Spring (France, R92); 14. Damien Penaud (France, Clermont), 13. Virimi Vakatawa (France, R92), 12. Levani Botia (Fiji, La Rochelle), 11. Davit Niniashvili (Georgia, Lyon); 10. Antoine Hastoy (France, Pau), 9. Batiste Couilloud (France, Lyon); 1. Jean-Baptiste Gros (France, Toulon), 2. Pierre Bourgarit (France, La Rochelle), 3. Beka Gigashvili (Georgia, Toulon), 4. George Kruis (England, Panasonic Wild Knights), 5. Will Skelton (Australia, La Rochelle), 6., Dylan Cretin (France, Lyon), 7. Charles Ollivon (C) (France, Toulon), 8. Yoan Tanga (France, R92).
Reps: 16. Danny Priso (France, La Rochelle), 17. Christopher Tolofua (France, Toulon), 18. Sipili Falatea (France, Clermont), 19. Thomas Lavault (La Rochelle), 20. Nolann Le Garrec (R92), 21. Louis Carbonel (France, Toulon), 22. Sekou Macalou (France, Stade Francais), 23, Tani Vili (France, Clermont), 24. Thomas Laclayat (Oyonnax – travelling reserve).
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