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Jonny May set for Barbarians bow as 2 former England stars sign up

By Josh Raisey
Jonny May/ PA

Jonny May and David Ribbans have joined the growing contingent of former England players set to run out for the Barbarians in June at Twickenham.

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The Gloucester wing and the Toulon lock, who both represented England at the World Cup last year, have agreed to play for a Barbarians side coached by former Wallabies boss Robbie Deans when they take on Fiji at Twickenham on June 22 in the Killik Cup.

May and Ribbans will link up with former England teammates Ben Youngs and Danny Care in black and white, while Jonathan Joseph and Zach Mercer are also set to play.

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The eleven-cap England lock’s participation is dependent on whether Toulon reach the Top 14 semi-finals or not this season.

May brought his 78-cap England career to a close after the World Cup, finishing as his country’s second-highest try scorer with 36 tries. While Ribbans has not formally retired from international rugby, his move to Toulon from Northampton Saints after the World Cup rendered him ineligible to represent Steve Borthwick’s side.

Fixture
Gallagher Premiership
Northampton
90 - 0
Full-time
Gloucester
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This will be the 34-year-old May’s first outing for the Barbarians in his career, something he describes as an “honour and a privilege”.

“The Barbarians are a team you grow up watching and hoping you might get the opportunity to play for one day,” he said.

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“I’ve been asked to play before but it’s never quite worked out with other commitments, so I’m delighted to get the opportunity now.

“This is a team that everyone is always interested to watch, and it’s an inspiring team to watch as a young player. It’s an honour and a privilege for me to be involved.

“For it to be at Twickenham as well makes it personally very special for me. You never know when the last time is going to be, and this may well be it. It’s always an amazing thing to do whenever you get out on that pitch, at the home of English rugby, and going back there with a different team is pretty awesome.

“I’ve played against the BaaBaas a few times now, and it’s always a challenging fixture for the international side. You’re coming up against a team with the pressure off them, who are looking to whizz the ball around, so I am really relishing being on the other side of that this time!

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“From what you hear, even though you’re effectively playing a Test match at the end of the week, the preparation is unlike any other team and I’m looking forward to seeing what that’s like. The Barbarians put a different perspective on things, strip it back and encourage the team to have some fun, express themselves, and play with freedom.

“It’s an exciting opportunity and I am planning to embrace the occasion, meeting new people and celebrating the game of rugby.”

Ribbans said that representing the Barbarians would be a “dream come true” for him, but insists his focus remains firmly fixed on Toulon still, who sit in sixth place in the Top 14 with four rounds remaining.

Jonny May

“It’s really exciting to be considered for selection for the Barbarians – one of the most historic and well-known rugby clubs in the world,” he said.

“Obviously I’m focused now on the Top 14 run-in with Toulon, and completely committed to the team. We’ve put ourselves in a great position to qualify for the knock-out stages of the competition this summer.

“But, if I am available to play for the BaaBaas, it will be a dream come true to wear that black and white jersey for the first time. I am really excited about what the next few months has in store.”

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