Preview: Barbarians v South Africa

Fri, 04 Nov 2016 06:49

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Barbarians are one of two teams that have beaten the Springboks more often than they have lost to them.

The other is the All Blacks.

The Springboks have played the Barbarians seven times, and the Barbarians have won four, the Springboks three.

In fact, the last time the Springboks won was in 2000, but there have been only two matches since then - as the 'local content' of the Barbarians has dwindled, to such an extent that there is none in this Barbarians team of 23 players are from outside the South Hemisphere's Big Three.

Of those 23, 11 are from New Zealanders (one is a South African playing in New Zealand) and they will want to give it their all against the old foe.

The five South Africans, too, will want to show that they deserve better of the Springbok selection process.

And Australians are always competitive.

Of the New Zealanders, three are All Blacks, including experienced, cunning Andy Ellis. Five of the Australians are Wallabies.

The composition of the Barbarians is interesting. First there were 15 players and all from the Four Home Unions (England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales).

Now, in 2016, there is not a single player in Saturday's team from the Four Home Unions.

Look at this:
1952: Fifteen players from the Home Unions
1961: Fifteen players from the Home Unions
1970: Fifteen players from the Home Unions
1994: Sixteen players from the Home Unions, 1 Canada
2000: Six from New Zealand, six from Australia, two from Argentina, one from South Africa, six from the Home Unions (Naka Drotské was the first South African to play for the Barbarians against the Springboks.)
2007: Six from New Zealand, four from Australia, three from South Africa, one from Fiji, one from Italy, seven from the Home Unions
2010: Eleven from New Zealand, six from Australia, two from Italy, one from Fiji, one from South Africa, two from the Home Unions
2016: Eleven from New Zealand (including a South African playing in New Zealand), seven from Australia, five from SA (six if you include the South African playing in New Zealand) and none from the Home Unions

Of the Springboks, 14 have played for South Africa before. However, the most remarkable thing about this team is that it has bucked the 2016 trend by picking their players in their usual positions.

Not one of them is out of position.

All five of the outside players usually play in the positions that they have  been chosen for. This could have a bearing on the result.

Players to Watch

For the Barbarians: Andy Ellis is a wonderful scrumhalf, accurate and innovative. He presents a great opportunity for flyhalf Robert du Preez to perform at his best, which means that Barbarian backs will have great chances to run. The Barbarians' loose forwards are interesting, strong, energetic men who are powerful on the run - Luke Whitelock, enforcer Jordan Taufua and Brad Shields. And then there is Armand van der Merwe at hooker, one of the hardest of top rugby players to bring down.

For South Africa: Of the Springboks, you would want to watch both centres, Francois Venter and Rohan Janse van Rensburg, who would have been the Test choices of lots of people earlier this year. You would also love to see the wings with some room, both speedy players. Scurrying Sergeal Petersen and long-striding Jamba Ulengo could set Wembley alight. The halfbacks could just be South Africa's best pairing - calm, skilful Pat Lambie and fast, accurate Rudy Paige. Of the forwards Roelof Smit may just catch the eye most, for his abilities of a fetcher have been of great value to the Bulls and Blue Bulls. Then there is the athletic lock pairing of Pieter-Steph du Toit, South Africa's Player of the Year this year, and Rudolph Snyman, a rugged 21-year-old. Malcolm Marx at hooker is a powerful man, a strong candidate to take over from Adriaan Strauss next year.

Head to Head: In the centres, it is Seta Tamanivalu and Richard Buckman, both strong runners, against Francois Venter with his strength and distribution skills and powerful Rohan Janse van Rensburg. Scrumhalves are always at each other. This time it's Andy Ellis, 32 years of age with 28 All Black caps since his debut in 2006 and 135 matches for the Crusaders against Rudy Paige, 27 with five caps after making his debut last year and 34 Super Rugby matches. At flyhalf tall Robert du Preez is up against compact, much more experienced Pat Lambie. The loose forwards will see Luke Whitelock, Jordan Taufua and Brad Shields against Nizaam Carr, Teboho Mohoje and Roelof Smit. The Barbarians may just have the edge here. At lock, the Springboks look much stronger with Du Toit and Snyman against Michael Fatialofa and Martin Muller. In the front rows the Springboks again look stronger - Lourens Adriaanse, Malcolm Marx and Tendai Mtawarira with his 84 Test caps against Paddy Ryan, Armand van der Merwe and Reggie Goodes, three with Test experience against one.

Previous Results
1952: Springboks won 17-3
1961: Barbarians won 6-0
1970: Springboks won 21-12
1994: Barbarians won 23-15
2000: Springboks won 41-31
2007: Barbarians won 22-5
2010: Barbarians won 26-20

Prediction: It is highly unlikely that the Barbarians will be as grimly determined to win as they were in 1961 - not if the New Zealanders have their way. The Springboks with creative inside backs and energetic forwards are unlikely to be dour. It could just be an exciting, running match which the Springboks with their speed on the outside and stronger forwards could win by about five points. Not that that may matter.

Teams

Barbarians: 15 Melani Nanai (Blues), 14 Matt Faddes (Highlanders), 13 Seta Tamanivalu (Crusaders, New Zealand), 12 Richard Buckman (Highlanders), 11 Taqele Naiyaravoro (Waratahs, Australia), 10 Robert du Preez (Stormers), 9 Andy Ellis (Crusaders, New Zealand), 8 Luke Whitelock (Highlanders, New Zealand), 7 Jordan Taufua (Crusaders), 6 Brad Shields (Hurricanes), 5 Michael Fatialofa (Hurricanes), 4 Martin Muller (Lions), 3 Paddy Ryan (Waratahs, Australia), 2 Armand van der Merwe (Lions), 1 Reggie Goodes (Hurricanes).
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready (Reds), 17 Schalk van der Merwe (Montpellier), 18 Toby Smith (Rebels, Australia), 19 Sam Carter (Brumbies, Australia), 20 Ruan Ackermann (Lions), 21 Nic Stirzaker (Rebels), 22 Richard Mo'unga (Crusaders), 23 Luke Morahan (Force, Australia).

South Africa: 15 Jesse Kriel, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Jamba Ulengo, 10 Patrick Lambie (captain), 9 Rudy Paige, 8 Nizaam Carr, 7 Teboho Mohoje, 6 Roelof Smit, 5 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 4 Rudolph Snyman, 3 Lourens Adriaanse, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: Bongi Mbonambi, 17 Lizo Gqoboka, 18 Trevor Nyakane, 19 Eben Etzebeth, 20 Jean-Luc du Preez, 21 Piet van Zyl, 22 Tiaan Schoeman, 23 Ruan Combrinck.

Date: Saturday, 5 November 2016
Venue:  Wembley Stadium, London
Kick-off: 15.30 (15.30 GMT; 17.30 SA time)
Expected weather: Partly cloudy with a high of 9°C, dropping to 2°C. The beach will not be a counterattraction!
Referee: Mike Fraser (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Paul Williams (New Zealand), Shuhei Kubo (Japan)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

By Paul Dobson
@rugby365com