Rugby Union: A black mark for the SA Baa-Baas

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The Independent Online
Bath. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23

South African Barbarians. . . . . . . . . . . .34

BARBARIAN rugby has an abiding public image and an expectation of free-flowing, fast-running Corinthianism, with the last match of a tour an especially joyous celebration. But, as Bath found to their cost, grim abrasion remains the hallmark of South African attitudes to fun.

Though sending seven of their finest to yesterday's England A clash with the All Blacks, Bath still managed to field three Lions, Andy Reed playing his first full game since June, Ben Clarke stepping up to the back row at the last minute, and Jeremy Guscott suffering four stitches over his right eye for the privilege of making a graceful, if often choked, re-entry after nearly a month.

But the Baa-Baas were on a roll of seven straight wins and had scored 40 tries to nine before taking on the English champions. They finished 8-0, 44 tries to 11, 293 points to 135. They were also on a mission to ensure that South African rugby is in a position to dominate as never before in the 1995 World Cup.

As they also have a full Springbok side in Argentina and a development side also taking in Uruguay and Chile, the ease with which this third touring group, with an average age of 25, could have won added to worries for opponents in the long term, and brought sadness during the game about the way it was played.

That only one of their number, Tonks van der Linde, was sent off six minutes from the end for stamping was not for want of others trying. He was later given a two-week suspension at the start of the South African season. It is possible to say that the first-half penalty count of 15-1 against was because they were quicker to the infringement, but the whole tour has been similarly fraught.

They would say that Bath were also handing out some stick, but the surprise was that there was not a full-scale war, given the boring, punching and flying boots. All of which was unnecessary. The South Africans could win easily enough ball - starting up front, where Gareth Chilcott played his penultimate game for Bath as captain for the day. They had height, strength and speed throughout the forwards.

At half-back they had far the better pairing, with Jan de Beer looking impressive as distributor and kicker before going off injured. Their centres looked the more incisive, the wings, Pieter Hendriks and, especially, Francois Naude, looked truly classy and both scored tries.

South African Barbarians: Tries Hendriks, Naude, Straueli, Scholtz; Conversions de Beer 4; Penalties de Beer, Lawless. Bath: Tries Swift, Clarke; Conversions Raymond 2; Penalties Raymond 3.

Bath: A Lumsden; A Swift, J Ramsey, J Guscott, M Lloyd; C Raymond, R Hill; D Hilton, T Beddow, G Chilcott (capt), M Haag, A Reed, G Adams, D Egerton, B Clarke.

SOUTH AFRICAN BARBARIANS: G Lawless (Western Province; F Naude (Northern Transvaal), C Scholtz (WP), J Mulder, P Hendriks (Transvaal); J de Beer (Orange Free State), J Roux (NT); A van der Linde (Natal), H Roberts (Transvaal), A Garvey (Zim), R Opperman (OFS), P Schutte, R Straueli (capt), D Lotter, A Blakeway (NT). Replacements: D Muir (Natal) for de Beer, 65; J Barnard (NT) for Blakeway, 75.

Referee: M Bayliss (Gloucester).