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England to host Barbarians 20 months after 'laughing stock' cancellation

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by Alex Davidson/Getty Images for Barbarians)

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England are set to host the Barbarians at Twickenham next June 20 months after the embarrassing cancellation of the previously planned fixture between the two sides. A socialising 13-strong continent of Baa-Baas, which included ex-England skipper Chris Robshaw, breached the hotel bubble safety net by going out on the town in the lead-up to the October 2020 match.

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Their high jinx resulted in the RFU scrapping the behind closed doors game for fears that a virus outbreak could affect the England preparations for the following week’s Guinness Six Nations title clincher away to Italy.   

The high profile cancellation, which was announced on the Friday prior to the game that was scheduled for the Sunday, was hugely criticised by England boss Eddie Jones who reckoned the antics of the misbehaving Barbarians massively damaged the reputation of rugby worldwide. “We understand that rugby at the moment is a bit of a laughing stock,” he said at the time.

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INSIDE THE BARBARIANS | Go behind the scenes with one of the most iconic rugby clubs in the world
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INSIDE THE BARBARIANS | Go behind the scenes with one of the most iconic rugby clubs in the world

Charges were brought against the 13 Barbarians players caught up in the controversy and a variety of punishments were eventually doled out as the late cancellation landed the RFU with a hefty bill. 

However, relationships have since mended as the Barbarians will now play England on June 19 prior to Jones taking his squad on their tour to Australia. Jones said: “The Barbarians fixture is a special one in rugby. 

“It’s always a good challenge for the players, entertaining for supporters and showcases the spirit of the game. It’s been great to be back playing in full stadiums again and we know this game is one that the fans enjoy and we are looking forward to playing in front of the Twickenham crowd. It will also be good preparation for us ahead of an important tour to Australia.”

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The Barbarians will be hoping there are no hitches with this latest Twickenham fixture as 13 months after the embarrassing England cancellation, failed virus tests meant they were forced to cancel their recent November match versus Samoa with the gates already open at the stadium and fans streaming in to watch.   

Barbarians president John Spencer, added: “We are delighted to be returning to Twickenham to face England this June. The Barbarians have a long history of playing this national side and the fixture promises thrilling rugby, reignited rivalries and the opportunity for some familiar faces to line up against former teammates.

“As a club we have of course not had the easiest time coming to Twickenham in recent months, with the very notable exception of the wonderful display of entertaining and enjoyable rugby the Barbarian and Springbok Women’s XVs put on in the Killik Cup.”

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