Berliner Tageszeitung - Kruis bows out with Top 14 stars for the Barbarians against England

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Kruis bows out with Top 14 stars for the Barbarians against England




Kruis bows out with Top 14 stars for the Barbarians against England
Kruis bows out with Top 14 stars for the Barbarians against England / Foto: © AFP

George Kruis will make one last appearance at Twickenham after being named in a Barbarians XV dominated by players from France's Top 14 for Sunday's non-cap international against England.

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Barbarians boss Fabien Galthie, the France head coach, had already named Les Bleus' Charles Ollivon as captain for a match that will act as a warm-up for England's three-Test tour of Australia next month.

But Ollivon will be joined by 13 more Top 14 players in the starting side, with the only player from outside the French top-flight in the run-on XV former England lock Kruis, who will retire after this game.

Kruis, who won 45 England caps from 2014-20, has spent the last two years with Japanese club Saitama Wild Knights.

The 32-year-old is reunited in a second row alongside Australia's Will Skelton, a former team-mate at English giants Saracens now currently playing at newly-crowned European champions La Rochelle.

Six Nations champions France provide 10 players in a starting XV also featuring Fiji's Levani Botia and the Georgia duo of Beka Gigashvili and Davit Niniashvili, all of whom play their club rugby in France.

- 'Barbarians with a French accent' -

"We have 19 French players, so we are the British Barbarians with a French accent!" Galthie said Thursday. "We have a good balance of very young players and experienced players."

He added he was looking forward to seeing 2019 World Cup finalist Kruis and Skelton line up together.

"It is like a present for George because they played at Saracens years ago," Galthie said. "It is a nice story."

Barbarians officials will be desperate for the game to go ahead after a pair of embarrassing call-offs scuppered their last two men's matches at Twickenham.

A scheduled fixture against England in October 2020 was called off two days in advance after it emerged that 13 Barbarians players had broken Covid-19 protocols, while November's game with Samoa was abandoned on the morning of the game following a virus outbreak.

Sunday's match will also be the first for the invitational side since the death of Wales fly-half great Phil Bennett at the age of 73 was announced last week.

It was Bennett's side-stepping brilliance deep in his own 22 that initiated arguably the greatest try in rugby union history during a 1973 win for the Barbarians over New Zealand in Cardiff, with half-back partner Gareth Edwards completing a length-of-the-field move.

Barbarians team to play England (15-1)

Max Spring (FRA); Damien Penaud (FRA), Virimi Vakatawa (FRA), Levani Botia (FIJ), Davit Niniashvili (GEO); Antoine Hastoy (FRA), Baptiste Couilloud (FRA); Yoan Tanga (FRA), Charles Ollivon (FRA, capt), Dylan Cretin (FRA); Will Skelton (AUS), George Kruis (ENG); Beka Gigashvili (GEO), Pierre Bourgarit (FRA), Jean-Baptiste Gros (FRA)

Replacements: Danny Priso (FRA), Christopher Tolofua (FRA), Sipili Falatea (FRA), Thomas Lavault (FRA), Nolann Le Garrec (FRA), Louis Carbonel (FRA), Sekou Macalou (FRA), Tani Vili (FRA)

Coach: Fabien Galthie (FRA)

D. O'Sullivan--BTZ