Home Sport SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Rugby rebels should feel stupid and embarrassed after mass Barbarians...

SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Rugby rebels should feel stupid and embarrassed after mass Barbarians 'breakout'


SIR CLIVE WOODWARD: Rugby rebels should feel stupid and embarrassed after mass Barbarians ‘breakout’…. the sport needs all the help it can get from TV and sponsors and both have been badly let down

  • 12 members of the Barbarians squad left their London hotel without permission
  • Breach of coronavirus protocols has meant RFU decided to cancel game 
  • Baa-Baas pulled together squad of 23 but were unable to gain approval  

It is a difficult and strange rugby landscape at present but I have to say I am disappointed and gobsmacked by the mass Barbarians ‘breakout’ on Wednesday night when 12 of their squad descended on a restaurant.

It now transpires there was another group dining out on Tuesday when they should not have been and the RFU, feeling that the bubble had been compromised, felt they had no option other than to cancel the game.

They were correct to do so as health comes first at all times right now and sportsmen should be setting a better example. Those players involved must be feeling stupid and embarrassed.

Richard Wigglesworth (centre) was one of the 12 players who went out for dinner in London

Richard Wigglesworth (centre) was one of the 12 players who went out for dinner in London

What is even stranger is that the 12 players involved on Wednesday included Chris Robshaw and Richard Wigglesworth — two model professionals who have led hitherto blameless professional careers for 15 years or more.

What were they and the others thinking? Do they not watch the news?

And why didn’t the Barbarians and RFU spell it out to them? This is what you can do and this is what you cannot do. Step out of the bubble and we cannot pick you. They have been adhering to similar routines with their clubs for three months or more so they know the score.

Playing against England at Twickenham on Sunday was meant to be a fond farewell to the English game for Robshaw and Wigglesworth and although it was going to be a slightly surreal occasion at an empty stadium I am sure both were looking forward to it immensely.

Chris Robshaw is said to be one of 12 Barbarians who broke Covid rules in London this week

Chris Robshaw is said to be one of 12 Barbarians who broke Covid rules in London this week

And now their careers in England end in this bizarre, incongruous way, being thrown out of the Barbarians squad like naughty schoolboys before the game was promptly cancelled.

From what we can gather the Wednesday night meal was not a drunken late night episode in the old Barbarians tradition — everybody was back in the hotel before the 10pm curfew but given the restrictions in London, who on earth thought it was acceptable to slip out in such large numbers without checking with anybody if it was OK?

I’m trying hard to find a sympathetic angle whatsoever and I speak as somebody who was proud to play for the Barbarians.

Eddie Jones will be hugely frustrated that the warm-up game will no longer go ahead

Eddie Jones will be hugely frustrated that the warm-up game will no longer go ahead

There were a few posts on social media of the Barbarians squad playing indoor cricket earlier in the day in the function room of the hotel where they were staying.

Perhaps time was dragging a little in a Barbarians week which is traditionally packed with trips to shows, treats, meals and a few end of season beers. That is why they all like to be involved.

A touch of cabin fever might have set in but having set such a great example with their clubs over the last two or three months I cannot get my head round how they suddenly all lost their heads, went off message and torpedoed the fixture.

What a horrible mess. Rugby needs all the help it can get from TV and sponsors at present and both have been badly let down by this.

England will now go into their Six Nations finale without having had a proper run out together

England will now go into their Six Nations finale without having had a proper run out together

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