Monday, 2 June 2008

Thumbs down

I know I've banged on about the irrelevance of Barbarians showcase matches previously and I apologise in advance if this is going to upset anyone but Sunday's England v Barbarians match really did bring home the utter pointlessness of these occasions.

Yes, at Twickenham yesterday paying punters spent more than a few bob on tickets to witness two more or less scratch sides slug it out on the hallowed turf with the Barbarians lacking the will to throw the ball around and risk heavy defeat while England lacked the nous and technical ability to do so.

For the crowd to actually start a countdown to half time says it all.

Look, if these fixtures do have to be played (and I can understand why the bean counters at the RFU are in favour) then there has to be some sort of agreement that the teams will at least try to play exhibition rugby to satisfy the expectations of the paying public and a tacit understanding that the result doesn't matter (although in which case I'd ask why bother?).

However, I'm firmly of the view that this fixture is one match too far in an already crowded season and that, in the professional era, such showcase matches effectively rip off the public and do nothing for players' welfare.

The role of the BaaBaas needs redefining and, as I've previously suggested, helping to develop rugby in 2nd and 3rd tier nations and supporting grassroots rugby and charitable causes are still areas in which the Barbarian club can bring its tradition and its magnificent brand to the table.

I doubt there'll be any change in tack, however, whilst the public continues to fork out for the pleasure of being "entertained" in this way, but Sunday's spectacle will undoubtedly mean that the marketing men will have to work that bit harder next time.

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