Just a few weeks remain now until the autumn international rugby period kicks off at Twickenham Stadium.
In an eagerly anticipated match, British boys Barbarians will take on Australia on 1st November. It’s set to be a particularly tense pairing with the standard of talent involved; Australia’s Wallabies have some of the most world-class back line players on the planet.
Meanwhile, All Black legend Sir John Kirwan has agreed to coach the Barbarians. The 49-year-old Most Excellent Order of the British Empire has had a sterling career which has seen him score 35 tries in 63 tests for New Zealand, making him one of the highest try scorers in international rugby union history.
The star, who also had a starring role in the All Blacks’ 1987 World Cup victory, said of his upcoming pairing with the team:
“In my view, it’s the first Test of their tour. That is what they will be expecting and that is what we want to deliver.”
With Kirwan’s help, bookmakers have their eyes on the Barbarians to be victorious, particularly given the standard this year. The squad will feature some of the most high profile international stars from around the world including Coenie Oosthuizen, Michael Rhodes and Nick Cummins.
All eyes will be on the latter, with Kirwin particularly keen to express his happiness at Cummins taking part in the game. “Nick Cummins typifies the Barbarians rugby spirit,” he said. “He’s a huge loss, having hung up his Australian jersey to play in Japan, but this is a great opportunity for him to prove himself against old team mates.”
Cummins, nick-named the ‘Honey Badger’, is something of a hero amongst rugby fans thanks to his six tries in 15 test appearances and distinctive charisma in off-field interviews. The winger moved to Japan to provide support for his father, who suffers from prostate cancer, and his brother and sister, who both have cystic fibrosis.
Meanwhile, the Australian side promises good things with the talents of Israel Folau, Kurtley Beale, Will Genia and Adam Ashley-Cooper. One to watch on the Australian side is Israel Folau, who from 2007 to 2008 broke the record for most tries in a debut year. Demonstrating his Herculean strength will be Will Genia, who is largely regarded as the best halfback in the world at present, with testimonials from stars such as former All Black halfback Justin Marshall.
The game has already attracted worldwide attention, and official stats from Twickenham Stadium report that 50,000 tickets have been sold so far.