Rugby Union: Campese signs off in style

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The Independent Online
Barbarians 12 Australia 39

Tries: Bateman 60 Tries: Burke 12, 40

Scott Quinnell 71 Roff 41, Campese 48 Horan 56

Conv: Andrew 12 Pens: Burke 8, 18

Cons: Burke 12, 40, 41, 48

Hail and farewell Campo. The jolly swagman of world rugby made his final bow at Twickenham yesterday after 15 continuous years in the international game. During that time he has entertained and enraged in almost equal measure. But in an age of uniformity he has always been different.

Even yesterday, with limited chances and in a passionless and increasingly pointless game. He displayed his independence of spirit, scoring a try in the process, although on the day he was forced to bow to the majesty of the Australian full-back Matt Burke, whose irresistible power and breathtaking pace broke the Barbarians' defence time and again. He scored two tries, two penalties and four conversions for a total of 24 points.

But even Burke had to concede that the crowning momentwas the try scored by Joe Roff a minute after Burke had scored his second. From the kick- off Campese threw out a pass to Daniel Herbert, who shipped the ball on at lightning pace to Tim Horan. The Australian skipper then sent Roff galloping away from his 22 and thereon the winger was unstoppable. Burke converted and Australia had stretched their lead to 27-0.

So great had been the Australians' territorial advantage during the first half that this hardly represented a fair return for their efforts. But they had gone to sleep for a 15-minute spell, allowing the sum of the Barbarians' individual parts to add up to something approaching a team. It was only fleeting, however, and the longer this game went on the more one questioned the Barbarians' concept in this ultra-competitive world of professionalism.

As much as it pains those of us who have been privileged to play for this great club and are proud to be members of it, fixtures such as the one we witnessed yesterday have little relevance in the modern game. Even the oldest of the club's traditions are being violated. And the Newcastle contingent's decision to wear their club shorts with the garish white stripe did nothing to raise either the profile of the occasion or the sartorial elegance of the team.

It used to be in a season when the Lions toured that this fixture offered an opportunity to assess some prospective candidates, but there was very little value at Twickenham. Rob Howley was given no room, neither was Gregor Townsend and those two apart it is hard to imagine the Lions' selectors being excited by anyone else. Tim Stimpson might have set the pulse racing had he remained on the field, but he was injured tackling Campese and was carried off on a stretcher, his neck in a brace. But it was purely a precautionary measure, and the injury was later diagnosed as concussion, which will force him to miss England's match against Argentina on Saturday.

Even with a makeshift second row and a side wearied by the hard labour of an interminable season, the Australians had fartoo much pace and fizz. The speed of their midfield and the bewitching exchanges between backs and forwards tore huge gaps in a defence which was not always wholly committed.

Neil Back, who in his time used such occasions to display his wares to the wider audience, was scarcely in evidence either in attack or defence. Perhaps he has not yet reached match fitness following his enforced absence from the game, or perhaps the punishing fitness schedule over the years has finally taken its toll. Whatever the cause, he is a shadow of his former self.

Until the final quarter, when they eased up and wound down to the tour's end, the Australians' scoring pattern had a stylish symmetry, Burke getting the first 20 points with two tries, two conversions and two penalties. Roff's virtuosity broke the sequence but not, sadly for the Barbarians, the Australians' appetite for points-gathering. Campese broke down the right and then scampered over for the Australians' fourth try. Horan then looped round his prop Dan Crowley for the fifth and at last the tourists were content.

They allowed the Barbarians just enough room to enjoy themselves where earlier they had succeeded in only hanging themselves. Allan Bateman struggled out of a tackle and staggered over for a try and Scott Quinnell, who has yet to be fully immersed in the different techniques of the union code, barged his way over for the Barbarians' second try.

The final whistle blew and Campese went on his obligatory lap of honour but what should have been a spontaneous show of emotion from his adoring fans was strangely muted. The crowd's half-hearted response was not, one suspects, out of lack of respect for and admiration of this uniquely talented player but was more the realisation that Campo's may not have been the only farewell yesterday.

Barbarians: T Stimpson (Newcastle); N Walker (Cardiff), A Bateman (Richmond), G Townsend (Northampton), T Underwood (Newcastle); R Andrew (Newcastle, capt), R Howley (Cardiff); N Popplewell (Newcastle), N Hewitt (Southland), D Garforth (Leicester), C Quinnell (Richmond), I Jones (North Harbour), D McIntosh (Pontypridd), N Back (Leicester), S Quinnell (Richmond). Replacements: J Stransky (Western Province) for Stimpson, 20; A Moore (Richmond) Howley, 59; M Allen, (Northampton) for Townsend, 73; D Weir (Newcastle) for Quinnel, 79.

Australia: M Burke (NSW); J Roff (ACT), D Herbert (Queensland), T Horan (Queensland, capt), D Campese (NSW); P Howard (ACT), S Payne (NSW), D Crowley (Queensland), M Caputo (ACT), A Blades (NSW), D Giffin (ACT), T Gavin (NSW), O Finegan (ACT), D Wilson (Queensland), M Brial (NSW). Replacements: B Robinson (ACT) for Brial, 22; M Foley (Queensland) for Caputo 26; R Tombs (NSW) for Howard, 72; A Heath (NSW) for Blades, 75; S Larkham (ACT) for Burke, 76.

Referee: E Morrison (England).

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