While many may have regarded it as a meaningless fixture the 44 players did not treat it like that. Nor did the sizeable and appreciative crowd. It was a day when reputations were made and lost as England romped to a stylish victory.
The name of James Simpson-Daniel will have been noted by every England fan after his scintillating performance. His 36th-minute try brought the crowd to their feet and the match to life. But there were others who also figured in the event; scrum-half Andy Gomarsall who directed operations superbly and will have done his chances of adding to his seven England caps no harm. Likewise Dave Walder, who plays second fiddle at fly-half to his Newcastle club-mate Jonny Wilkinson. Walder rarely put a hand or foot wrong and nor did the centre Phil Christophers.
The portents had not looked good when Phil Vickery, the acting England captain, called up Walder to have a kick at goal in the first minute. Clearly no one had informed him of the Barbarian ethic, to run the ball at all times. The decision to kick was greeted with jeers, which, when the touchline attempt sailed safely between the uprights, changed to cheers.
Thereafter though England entered into the spirit of things, Christophers and Michael Horak prominent in the early probings, while Jonah Lomu suddenly found himself brought up by the seat of his pants when Newcastle's Hugh Vyvyan slung the All Black unceremoniously to the Twickenham turf.
England's confidence grew, the defence looked sound and the playmakers, Gomarsall and Walder, began to open things up. The pair of them, with the intercession of Horak set up James Forrester for a great try, the Gloucester flanker leaving the Barbarians gasping in his wake as he sprinted 60 metres.
Not long after that the hooker Steve Thompson rumbled into the thick of the Baabaas cover, stumbled, picked himself up and bulled his way through. But the best was yet to come.
If Simpson-Daniel had plied the Mississippi riverboats 120 years ago his sleight of hand would have earned him a fortune. The Gloucester back, having received the ball, appeared to sling out a pass to Christophers who was running behind and across his line in a scissors movement. The ball left Simpson-Daniels' hands, Percy Montgomery followed it, only for the double-barrelled illusionist to pluck it back and scorch through the gap the South African full-back had left.
Simpson-Daniel then took on, and comprehensively skinned, the lumbering Lomu, before launching himself at the line with Christian Cullen clinging on to his airborne figure. The try was not awarded for 60 seconds, but when it was 62,000 spectators went wild.
Deep into injury time Walder caught the invitation side napping with the first of his astutely judged grubbers, Horak winning the chase for the touchdown. The second half began like the first with a Walder penalty, then Christophers burst through, rolling over with a horde of Barbarians on his back with Walder adding his name to the scoresheet a short while later.
The Barbarians' Simon Taylor scored his tries either side of Walder's effort to keep the Baabaas in the game, but when Christophers' try in the final 10 minutes took England past the 50 mark it was neatly parcelled up.
England: Tries Forrester, Thompson, Simpson-Daniel, Horak, Walder, Christophers 2; Conversions Walder 4, Gomarsall; Penalties Walder 2. Barbarians: Tries Jones, Montgomery, Taylor 2, Lam; Conversions Van Straaten 2.
ENGLAND: M Horak (London Irish); J Simpson-Daniel (Gloucester), G Appleford (L Irish), B Johnston (Saracens), P Christophers (Bristol); D Walder (Newcastle), A Gomarsall; T Woodman (both Gloucester), S Thompson (Northampton), P Vickery (Gloucester; capt), A Codling (Harlequins), H Vyvyan (Newcastle), P Gustard (L Irish), J Worsley (Wasps), J Forrester (Gloucester). Replacements: M Regan (Bath) for Thompson, 76; D Flatman (Saracens) for Woodman, 76; E Pearce (Gloucester) for Vyvyan, 53; G Seely (Northampton) for Forrester, 53; N Walshe (Sale) for Gomarsall, 76; P Jones (Orrell) for Walder, 76; K Sorrell (Saracens) for Appleford, 73.
BARBARIANS: C Cullen (NZ); P Rossouw (SA), S Glas (Fr), P Alatini, J Lomu (both NZ); B van Straaten (SA), A Pichot (Arg); C Califano (Fr), N Drotske, A Garvey (both SA), K Roche (Saracens), I Jones, T Blackadder (both NZ; capt), S Taylor (Sco), K Vanisi (Wellington Hurricanes). Replacements: M Ledesma (Arg) for Drotske, 58; C Dowd (NZ) for Califano, 24; J Kronfeld (NZ) for Vanisi, h-t; P Lam (Samoa) for Blackadder, 14; M Robinson (NZ) for Rossouw, 76; T Castaignède (Fr) for Glas, 6; P Montgomery (SA) for Castaignède, 22
Referee: P Adams (Ebbw Vale).
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