Andy Ellis Set to Lead Barbarians v Springboks

Ireland v Barbarians - International Rugby Friendly
28 May 2015; Barbarians head coach Robbie Deans in conversation with Jimmy Gopperth before the game. International Rugby Friendly, Ireland v Barbarians. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE (Photo by Sportsfile/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Barbarians Rugby club rich history will continue in England this weekend, with a Robbie Deans coached ‘Baabaas’ team facing the Springboks at Wembley Stadium. Laced with a New Zealand-heavy presence; and with Andy Ellis Set to Lead Barbarians rugby in his International ‘swansong’, the opening match of the Autumn International calendar  in London may be more festival than any serious encounter.

BARBARIANS v SPRINGBOKS

November 5, Wembley Stadium, London.

Ellis, known for his constant grin [see image below] and longevity, will direct a side comprised of many talented rugby players. It might in-fact be referred to as an New Zealand ‘A’ team. Ten starting players have either International caps, Super Rugby/Mitre 10 Cup titles, or are considered leaders in the game.

Baabaa's
Andy Ellis of the Barbarians poses for a portrait during the Barbarians Squad photo call (Photo by Christopher Lee/Getty Images for Barbarians)

Some might call this side the ‘Crusading Barbarians’ as it is laced with ex-coaches, Super Rugby winning players and emerging talent. And while matches of this type may not hold the prestige of a test series, or a Bledisloe Cup game, for many of the players involved it is the ‘big stage’.

Melani Nanai of the Blues, may find the large expanse of Wembley Stadium a little larger than Eden Park. The same could be said for Michael Fatialofa and Brad Shields. Members of the Hurricanes team that claimed the 2016 Super Rugby title, it might take some adjusting but their quality is clear to see. They are complimented by team mate Regge Goodes, Crusaders Jordan Taufua and Luke Whitelock and Super Rugby winner, Richard Buckman.

Mix of NZ and Australian players

Not only are new Zealand (NZ) players represented, but ex-Wallabies coach Deans has chosen a handful of Australians to demonstrate the strengths of Southern Hemisphere rugby. Sam Carter, Luke Morahan, Paddy Ryan and Toby Smith have all been added to the squad.

Uncapped hooker Andrew Ready (Reds) and London-born scrum half Nic Stirzaker (Rebels) fill out the Aussie players, beside Martin Muller from the Emirate Lions. Not selected by the national side, this experience will be a godsend for the Cape Town born player.

The bench also holds some talent. Richie Mounga, fresh from a superb finals performance in the Mitre 10 Cup, has real potential. He may at some stage substitute South African Robert du Preez. The 23 year old Stormers player is a rising talent, who will benefit personally from facing his Springbok opposite.

Springboks to use match to blood new players

Pat Lambie will lead South Africa in this first run-out since The Rugby Championship ended. He is seeking to replace the retiring skipper Adriaan Strauss, so will hope to impress with an allround game. Springboks coach Allister Coetzee is expected to name a team with up to a dozen uncapped players (un-named at time of publishing).

Few opportunities present themselves for un-tested players to add valuable experience. Matches like the Christchurch test were not places to experiment. In the Baabaas game, the opportunity is ideal, so expect many unheralded men to get a run.

The festival atmosphere often attracts a boisterous crowd, and fans can expect open-running rugby. Baabaas coach Robbie Deans has coached this club on many occasions, since ending his term with Australia. If his group can knock-off the Springboks, it will add to history of the ‘black and white hoops’ who have clubs located across the globe.

Last Word On Rugby look forward to a good match, before the Springboks pressure cooker builds, toward England v South Africa next weekend.

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BARBARIANS: Melani Nanai, Matt Faddes, Seta Tamanivalu, Richard Buckman, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Robert du Preez, Andy Ellis (captain), Luke Whitelock, Jordan Taufua, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Martin Muller, Paddy Ryan, Akker van der Merwe, Reggie Goodes. Reserves: Andrew Ready, Schalk van der Merwe, Toby Smith, Sam Carter, Ruan Ackermann, Nic Stirzaker, Richie Mo’unga.

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