Rugby Union: Campese still sharp until the last thrust - Sport - The Independent

Rugby Union: Campese still sharp until the last thrust

Barbarians 12 Australia 39

His adoring British fans had to wait an interminable time before David Campese rewarded their patience with a sharply taken try in the 49th minute of his last international match, an embarrassingly one-sided and unexciting affair. But once the tourists had wrapped up the victory to make it a round dozen unbeaten games on their European tour, Campese, as famous for his cutting comments as his slicing runs, wasted little time before laying into the shortcomings of British rugby.

Fifteen years at the top and 101 Wallaby Test appearances have done nothing to mellow Campese, and he needed little excuse before launching into the rugby nation he loves to hate - the Poms. "I love Barbarian rugby, you can express yourself," he said. "And that is how we play rugby, the Barbarian way. That's the Australian style, we don't have to change the style, whereas with the Barbarians a lot of players have to try to run the ball when they are not used to it."

The Campese damage did not stop there. Tim Stimpson was concussed after tackling the Wallaby wing head-on and the England and Newcastle full-back will be out of all rugby for three weeks. Campese continued: "When I have played for the Barbarians they have picked a lot of French players and they love to run the ball, but I've noticed that when there's a lot of British players it's hard because they are not used to it at high level. They love to try it, but after a while you can see they will go back into their shell. With the New Zealand Barbarians, England tried to play a different game from the one they are used to, and in the last 20 minutes off went New Zealand."

The Barbarians had needed to put up a good show in order to convince New Zealand's rugby authorities, among others, that they will be worthy opponents to round off the All Blacks' tour next season. That match is due to be played at Murrayfield, and Ian Jones has already said the All Blacks want to wrap up their tour with the traditional hoe-down. But neither he nor his fellow players have any idea what stance the New Zealand Rugby Football Union will adopt towards what appears to be an anachronistic fixture in a time of professionalism. So it really needed the Barbarians to do their bit on Saturday.

As Baa-Baas captain, Rob Andrew said his side was ill-prepared to take on a team that had lived in each other's pockets for the last eight weeks. With the Wallaby full-back Matt Burke helping himself to two tries and a total of 24 points, the tourists had done all their scoring before Andrew and his men had got off the mark.

"We were embarrassed to be 39-0 down," said Andrew. "We were all a bit disappointed because we went into the game with hopes of competing, but in the first half we weren't in it. We made too many elementary mistakes, for which against a Test team you will get punished."

Andrew acknowledged that the Barbarians could go on the endangered species list. "There is enough off-field activity to cause the Barbarians problems," he said, referring to the continuing dispute between clubs and Twickenham. "But it would be very sad if the Barbarians were lost to top international rugby."

Even Campo, reputedly one of rugby's first professionals long before the game went open, softened his attitude long enough to say: "I think it's probably one of the clubs that should stay."

Barbarians: Tries Bateman, S Quinnell; Conversion Andrew. Australia: Tries Burke 2, Roff, Campese, Horan; Conversions Burke 4; Penalties Burke 2.

BARBARIANS: T Stimpson (Newcastle & Eng); N Walker (Cardiff & Wal), A Bateman (Richmond & Wal), G Townsend (Northampton & Sco), T Underwood (Newcastle & Eng); R Andrew (capt, Newcastle & Eng), R Howley (Cardiff & Wal); N Popplewell (Newcastle & Ire), N Hewitt (Southland & NZ), D Garforth (Leicester), C Quinnell (Richmond & Wal), I Jones (North Harbour & NZ), D McIntosh (Pontypridd), N Back (Leicester & Eng), S Quinnell (Richmond & Wal). Replacements: J Stransky (Western Province & SA) for Stimpson, 22; A Moore (Richmond & Wal) for Howley, 59; M Allen (Northampton) for Townsend, 73; D Weir (Newcastle & Sco) for C Quinnell, 79.

AUSTRALIA: M Burke (S Larkham, 79); J Roff, D Herbert, T Horan (capt), D Campese; P Howard (R Tombs, 73), S Payne; D Crowley, M Caputo (M Foley, 25), A Blades (A Heath, 77), D Giffin, T Gavin, O Finnegan, D Wilson, M Brial (B Robinson 23).

Referee: E Morrison (Bristol).

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