Long moonlight strolls on the beach or a picnic packed for two might be what ticks the boxes for you but nothing beats the romance of Barbarians rugby for this critic. There is just something special when the men in black and white jog out onto the pitch.
The first thing I love about the Baa Baas is the ethos and rich history that comes with wearing that familiar black and white blocked jumper. In Harlem Globetrotter-like fashion the cream of the crop have donned the famous jersey (and don’t forget those traditional club socks).There is a universal acceptance of the responsibility that comes hand-in-hand with the honour of being selected for this prestigious team. Off the field there are also numerous customs and traditions that are adhered to in true Barbarian style – apparently this ranges from coaching clinics and charity work to quite a bit of socialising (read: heavy drinking)
The second thing that makes a Barbarian game more of an aphrodisiac than oysters on ice or watching a Romcom is thes eemingly worldwide buy-in with regard to embracing expansive rugby, regardless of the players or the coaches involved in the specific “tour” or match. What is hotter than some of the best players on the planet given the licence to follow their instincts and give the ball some air? Ball in hand rugga at its very best as silky touches and audacious skills are put on exhibition.
Lastly something that has established my love affair with Barbarian rugbyis the almost amateur, “for the love of the game”, concept one finds with these lads. In a professional era where country duties are so easily forsaken in favour of the pursuit of financial fortune it is refreshing that these gladiators unite in the name of honour, brotherhood and just plain looking to have some fun – yes that kind that a man gets from bulldozing over an opponent and running him into the ground or bashing into another human with full ferocity so you can hear his bones literally re-adjust somewhat. Sexy stuff I tell you!
A PERMANENT PLACE FOR THE BAA BAAS
Having watched the Aussie flavoured Barbarians take on the Wallabies and more particularly Saturday’s version taking on the All Blacks I have come to the conclusion that the Barbarian concept could be one used in a more structured and more permanent basis going forward. With fans and pundits in the Southern Hemisphere always ready to unleash with a long list of players who were unlucky to miss out on end of year tour selection it surely creates the ideal selection pool for such a Barbarian side to be selected.
Taking this concept further these “scraps” can then be coached by the three coaches who won the local comps in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand (they should of course also be central figures responsible for selecting the side). This team will then tour to the Northern Hemisphere where they can perhaps play two of the four Rugby Championship sides over a period of three weeks – thus giving the scrappy Barbarians an extra week to prepare between the first and second game.
The idea of the Baa Baas touring the Northern Hemisphere with these types of players hold a few benefits I feel. In the first instance a few of the fringe players can get an opportunity to show what their national coaches missed out on; possibly against their countrymen. This past weekend Kwagga Smith used the opportunity offered to him to not only gain some personal redemption after the red card fiasco but heused the global platform to stick his tong out to AC and his fellow selectors by putting in a Man of the Match performance against the best side in world rugby. Akker van der Merwe (in the 20 minutes that he was on the park) showed that it is an absolute insult to think that Chiliboy could be touring ahead of him whilst Ruan Ackermann also had this critic sitting up and taking notice. With Jean-luc missing due to injure and Duanne Vermeulen still making his way back the ex-Lion would have been the perfect fit to slot into the traditional SA number seven role.
Then there is also the advantage of this method allowing for slightly smaller touring squads needed from the Springboks, Wallabies and All Blacks as they can always call up a few of their Barbarian representatives should there be a need for this in the second half of their tour schedule (ie. due to injury or a bloke just really bashing the door down in two or three showings for the combination side in black and white and forcing his way into the national side in this manner).
I think this idea has huge potential and should be investigated. Then again, I might just be booty blind right now in the afterglow of the Barbarians being one of the few international games of the past weekend. But this is about to change when romance makes why for business-like brutality as we once again wait to see how the balance of power sits between the North and the South at present.
The Springboks head up county after an up-and-down season and off the back of a poor showing last year. The Wallabies have had their struggles but after a victory over the mighty Kiwis they will be keen to solidify themselves as a team on the up. And then you have New Zealand. It hasn’t really been a vintage year for the men in black and a loss in Europe will well and truly prove that there are some cracks in this monument of modern rugby.
The big bully on the other side of the see-saw has stopped growing and lost a bit of weight over the last 18 months or so whilst the lad on the other end has been carbo-loading for the same period. Let’s see whether its North or South that remains the heavy weight…It promises to be brutally beautiful battle.
Who is Couch Critic?
Hein Diemont is the resident “Couch Critic” in the Goodforthegame Forum and he shares his weekly Super Rugby Blog the “Post Match Scuffle” or “PMS” with us.
In his blog Couch Critic channels his usual weekend swearing, ranting, cheering, whinging and bickering to the written word. Brutally honest opinions of how the Super Rugby action went down from his perspective – no punches pulled, it’s PMS time…
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