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'The room went quiet' - Players devastated by cancelled Barbarians game

By AAP
Dave Rennie /Getty

The Barbarians, coached by Dave Rennie and featuring 11 Wallabies, have been left “devastated” at having their rugby international against Samoa called off because of six confirmed cases in the invitation side’s camp.

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The match, which was due to have been played at Twickenham on Saturday, was called off just 90 minutes before kickoff because of the outbreak in the Baa-Baas’ squad.

Tom Robertson, Pete Samu, Rob Leota, Tate McDermott, Tom Wright, Len Ikitau, Izaia Perese, Filipo Daugunu, James O’Connor, Angus Bell and Nic White were the 11 Australians due to play after the end of their spring tour, while Wallabies’ coach Rennie was overseeing the team.

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Samoa look ahead to clash against star-studded Barbarians | RugbyPass
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Samoa look ahead to clash against star-studded Barbarians | RugbyPass

It is not known if any of them were among the half-dozen to have tested positive, although it’s been reported that three may have been affected.

The Barbarians said that all their players “are absolutely devastated they were unable to play today.”

The decision to can the match was made following a recommendation by the Professional Game Testing Oversight Group, the Rugby Football Union said in a statement on Saturday.

“We appreciate that this is an extremely disappointing situation for the many fans due to attend,” the RFU said, “but the safety of all members of both teams is our priority.”

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The Barbarians said that they had 23 players who tested negative on Saturday morning and that they had been “ready and keen to take to the pitch against Samoa.”

“The whole squad complied to the letter with the COVID protocols throughout the week, including daily lateral flow tests,” the team added.

“After today’s results, we worked hard with the RFU, Public Health England and the Testing Oversight Committee to find a way that we could play.

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“Unfortunately, it was concluded on medical grounds that there was a risk to players on both sides should the game go ahead.”

Rennie, who was given a written warning by World Rugby for his outburst about officials following the Wales Test defeat last weekend and had apologised for his comments, had been looking forward to the honour of leading the game’s most celebrated international invitation team.

“Every one of these guys are honoured to become Barbarians and there’s already a real sense of excitement and anticipation,” he had said on Monday.

“We have brought a diverse range of countries and cultures together and it’s going to make for an exceptional week.”

The game was supposed to be the swansong for former Ireland fullback Rob Kearney and also the last for Samoa for lock Joe Tekori.

Tekori said they were already dressed for the game when news came that it was off.

“The room went quiet. I couldn’t say anything and all the boys were waiting for me to say anything,” an emotional Tekori told the BBC.

“I know it’s my last game for my country. It’s sad for me. I don’t want to end like this.”

The Barbarians Women’s side were able to play, though, and defeated a Springbok Women’s XV 60-5.

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