As the calendar year closed, and after the disappointment at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, Fiji Rugby was able to end their year on a high, with a 33-31 victory over the Barbarians.
The South Sea Islanders team was playing a rare fixture at Twickenham. The first in a series of Baabaas games that end the International rugby calendar year for many of the invited players. A match where available players added to the colourful history of the rugby-brand, known as the Barbarians FC.
If the crowd had wanted to witness an entertaining style of rugby, then they would have been thoroughly entertained. Celebrating the Killik Cup, it saw many International players assembled in a group coached by Eddie Jones – the England supremo mixing with World Cup-winning Sringboks, in an illustration that the game is bigger than the individual.
Fiji Rugby ends the year with win over Barbarians 33-31
For the Fijians, it was a win against an International-quality side. The invitational team has a reputation as a side who play for the enjoyment of the sport – very much in the same mind, as Fiji play.
Fiji were needing this victory, after a disappointing World Cup campaign. Entering the tournament ranked as high as ninth in the world, even while a hard-fought loss to Australia, they will forever regret an ‘out of the Blue’ loss to Uruguay. Hard to take, and it spoiled their entire RWC campaign.
So when the two sides met at the home of English Rugby, it was no surprise that the two teams put everything on the line. Fiji, for pride. And the Barbarians, to celebrate players today – and players of yesteryear.
Result = 64 points, and ten tries!
The game went down to the wire, and the reality is that ‘each rugby fan left fulfilled’. That is a success, and reflects the values of both the Baabaas and the Flying Fijians.
Fans leaving Twickenham would likely agree.
What a game!
— Twickenham Stadium (@Twickenhamstad) November 16, 2019
And the players themselves could have (for a few seconds) felt badly after a loss but, in Barbarians Rugby, the unity is more important than the outcome.
#RugbyUnited – players still mates after the Whistle
80 minutes played, and rivals to the end did not change the always evident respect in the Barbarians camp. Respect the opposition, shake hands and to especially enjoy the moment.
Well done @fijirugby 👏👏
— Barbarian FC (@Barbarian_FC) November 16, 2019
That was as important for current players, it was for a select few who were playing on the International stage for the final time. This included Rory Best and Tendai Mtawarira. Two esteemed members of the game, who both ended their representative careers in Japan.
Best to lead Baa-Baas in career finale ⚫️⚪️🏉
Ireland's ☘️ Rory Best will bring the curtain down on his professional career by captaining the Barbarians against Fiji 🇫🇯 at Twickenham 🏟️
— Sky Sports Rugby Union (@SkySportsRugby) November 13, 2019
And each will be pleased to leave on this stage…….possibly a win would have suited best, but for ‘the Beast’ he will only smile and add the memory to his recently ended career with the Springboks. One that ended with a taste of gold, and a taste of rugbyunited comradeship, with the Baabaas.
Of course, the Fijians will be pleased also. Considering the end to their season, and that the Fiji Rugby team were missing some superstars, the victory was as sweet. It added to the team’s Pacific Nations Cup win. A reward to close out the year, and motivation for the 2020 side going forward.
Fiji 33 – Tries: Malele, Tela, Dyer (2), Mayanavanuav ; Conversions: Tela (4)
Barbarians 31 – Tries; Bastareaud, Esterhuizen, Mapimpi (2), Steyn; Cons: Bosch, Steyn (2)
“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images