Disappointment for some can mean opportunity for others and that was certainly the case at Twickenham on Saturday, where the Barbarian Women and South Africa took centre stage.
In front of 29,581 fans, a new world record for a women’s international, USA winger Sarah Levy helped herself to a hat-trick of tries as the Barbarians ran out 60-5 winners.
The match had been scheduled to kick-off at 17:15 GMT but after six positive COVID-19 cases in the invitational club’s men’s squad put paid to their match against Samoa, it was brought forward by almost three hours.
Some players only arrived at Twickenham 30 minutes prior to the rescheduled start, having been required to get taxis to the iconic venue, but you wouldn’t have known it as the Barbarians put on a masterclass in south-west London.
🐑A picture paints a thousand words, thoroughly loved my time with the @barbarians_fc this week. Absolutely buzzing still from the record breaking 29,500 crowd at Twickenham. Thankyou for the incredible memories ❤️🐑 @bbcsport @bbcstrictly @premier15s @englandrugby @JournalRugby pic.twitter.com/yS4wQxWHEk— Rocky Clark MBE (@RockyClark_1) November 28, 2021
Levy opened the scoring in the seventh minute as she caught Katy Daley-Mclean’s pinpoint cross-field kick to touch down in the corner.
With the match being broadcast on BBC 1 in the UK, the Barbarians turned on the style, unveiling an NFL-inspired trick play and running in a further five tries in the first half.
The pick of those came from Scotland winger Rhona Lloyd, who beat five Springbok Women defenders on her way to the line in the 22nd minute.
Levy completed her hat-trick early in the second half and there were also tries for Lindsay Peat, Simi Pam and former Ireland captain Ciara Griffin.
Springbok Women winger, Ayanda Malinga, made sure the tourists had something to cheer, meanwhile, as she produced a stunning finish to get her team on the scoreboard.
Barbarians prop Rocky Clark was one of several players – her fellow Rugby World Cup 2014 winner Daley-Mclean included – who were appearing in their final international match and she later tweeted her gratitude to the club and the fans at Twickenham.
“Thoroughly loved my time with the Barbarians this week,” Clark wrote.
“Absolutely buzzing still from the record breaking 29,500 crowd at Twickenham. Thank you for the incredible memories.”
That was a sentiment shared by the invitational team’s coaching staff. “What an honour to work with such amazing players and people,” coach Jo Yapp wrote on Twitter.
“An opportunity to express themselves both on and off the field, with big smiles throughout. They are all an inspiration.”
Rachel Taylor tweeted: “Incredibly grateful for Barbarian FC to give me the opportunity to work with the BEST in the business! Incredible memories made across the week.
“This generation of female players will change the world with their courage to shape a better future. Thank you.”
Springbok Women coach Stanley Raubenheimer admitted his side had not settled into the match until the second half but insisted the players would benefit from the experience on the road to Rugby World Cup 2021.
“They had two players who played more than 120 test matches and only two who did not play more than 20 tests,” he said.
“On the contrary, we have only two players who have played 20 or more tests and the rest are in single digits. That experience showed in the early stages of the match as their composure was much better than ours.”