Clips of the brilliant Phil Bennett instigating the greatest try there ever was following his sad passing earlier this week have reminded us all not only how brilliant the Wales and British and Irish Lions fly-half was, but also what great entertainers the Barbarians are.

Luckily, rugby fans do not have to wait long to see the game’s most famous invitational team in action again, as they will be rocking up at Twickenham to play England, in what has become a traditional eve-of-summer fixture in the northern hemisphere, on Sunday 19 June.

This year the Barbarians have a distinctly French flavour to them, with the bulk of the squad selected by head coach Fabian Galthie coming from across the English Channel and captained by Les Bleus star, Charles Ollivon.

Former England second-row George Kruis will, however, wear the famous black and white hoops in what is his final appearance, alongside ex-Saracens team-mate, Will Skelton, in the Barbarians' second row, to add yet another dimension to a game that is never short of an interesting narrative.

With Leicester Tigers and Saracens set to play in the Gallagher Premiership final a day earlier, players from both clubs will not be involved.

But the England XV is not short of stardust either, and Danny Care’s return to the international fold after an absence of nearly four years is another storyline to keep an eye on.  

Here we take a look back to the first-ever England v Barbarians fixture, at Twickenham, on 29 September, 1990.


Organised to kick off the Barbarians’ centenary celebrations, this match was the first time the Club had played England at their own headquarters and featured one of the best-ever tries scored at Twickenham.

World Rugby Director of Rugby, Phil Davies, finished off a scintillating move that started with a quick tap penalty inside the Barbarians’ half and went through several pairs of hands before the Welshman touched it down.

Nick Farr-Jones and a young Neil Back, four years before he won the first of his 66 England caps, were involved twice in the build-up which also featured a searing break upfield from the brilliant Eric Rush and an audacious overhead pass from Wallaby wing wizard, David Campese.

There would have been few complaints from the 50,000-strong crowd inside Twickenham if the rest of the match had been dull, but with stellar talents like Farr-Jones, Campese and fellow Wallaby, Michael Lynagh, on show that was never going to be the case.

Both teams scored a try apiece in the first half, Campese giving the Baa-Baas an early lead before Dean Richards struck back for the hosts.

Leading 9-7 at the turnaround, England stretched further in front when Simon Hodgkinson added to his penalty and conversion before the break with another nine points, including his team’s second try.

Starved of set-piece possession, the Baa-Baas cranked up the pace of the game in the final quarter, leading to Davies’ wonderful team try. Though Lynagh converted from the left touchline and then added another penalty goal, the Barbarians fell two points short of marking the Centenary Match with a win.

Legendary Club President, Mickey Steele-Bodger, revealed afterwards that had it not been for Farr-Jones’ short-sightedness in turning down a very late shot at goal, they could have come away with a famous win.

“Nick Farr-Jones wears contact lenses and the normal scoreboard was out of use because of the ground redevelopments. I think he must have misread the numbers on the other scoreboard because he decided against going for goal. We could have nicked it by a point!” Steele-Bodger said.

While winning the game would have been a bonus, the performance of the team ensured the evening that followed was long and lively, in true Barbarian fashion.