‘Tins’ the Barbarian goes down a storm at ‘Castle Grim’…

1 06 2012

 

‘It’s definitely a highlight. You think of things in the game that you want to look back on when you’ve finished playing and say you’ve done and, for me, being a Barbarian is definitely one of them.’

‘Being at Gloucester has been awesome for me. It’s a great club from top to bottom. The fans who are almost religious in the way they come every week and support you through good times and bad, it’s just a great club to be involved with.’

‘I think Kingsholm is a great place to host a Barbarians game, the whole area just lives and breathes rugby.’

(Mike Tindall (Gloucester Rugby/ 75 England caps)

 

When Mike Tindall finally hangs up his boots he will have a great deal to look back upon, and ponder, from a long career which reached the heights of a Rugby World Cup victory, and sank to the, best forgotten, depths of much publicised extra-curricular activities in a New Zealand dwarf throwing club!

‘Tins’ is currently out of contract at Kingsholm, and without a club for next season, although there are those, and I’m one, who feel he could play a very useful role in the continuing development of Gloucester’s bright young backs.

However, on the face of it, his appearance for the Barbarians v Ireland, at ‘Castle Grim’, on Tuesday night, seems likely to have been his last outing in front of the ‘Glaws’ faithful, and I was glad to have been there.

Seven years ago, when he joined Gloucester from West Country cousins and biggest rivals ‘Baarf’, it is fair to say, the move wasn’t universally popular with, dyed in the wool, Cherry and White supporters. They were going to take a lot of winning over.    

It is therefore a huge testament to the ex-England captain’s all-round commitment and whole-hearted performances for the club that when he drove over the try-line to score, in the 57th minute, the roar from the crowd nearly lifted the roof off the stadium and, ‘Glawster, Glawster,’ echoed around the ground.

Gloucester Rugby is in the process of appointing a new coach, following the abrupt departure of Brian Redpath*, towards the end of last season. Media speculation has flagged up Nigel Davies, of Llanelli Scarlets, as a front-runner.

In a post-match interview Tindall intimated that he hadn’t given up all hope of playing some kind of role at the club, once the new coach has been appointed. I hope it comes to pass.     

Rory Lawson, Gloucester’s Scottish international scrum half, and incidentally, the grandson of legendary rugby commentator, the late, Bill McClaren, was also bowing out at Kingsholm, in the black and white of the Baa-Baas. He will leave, after six seasons of stalwart service, with the rapturous applause of the crowd ringing in his ears.

There were also special ovations for former Gloucester and England full-back/winger Ian Balshaw, now with Biarritz, who gave the crowd a reminder of his stylish finishing ability – scoring the opening try of the game,  and current squad member, the dynamic Fijian flanker, Akapusi Quera.       

The Barbarians are a world-renowned invitational team, based in Britain, although players from 27 different countries have worn the famous black and white hooped shirts (while retaining the socks of their ‘home’ club strip). They do not have a home ground but traditionally play six games a season ‘on tour’.  

Theirs is an illustrious history, dating back to 1884, and it is considered a great honour to receive a call – offering membership. Internationally renowned players taking part on Tuesday night included: French duo, Damian Traille (centre) and Cedric Heymans (full-back), Argentinian, Felipe Contepomi (outside-half), South African, Francis Louw (flanker) and 2011 World Cup winner, All Black, Stephen Donald (outside-half)      

Ireland, although, without any of Leinster’s Heineken Cup winning team, were still able to field a strong side made up, largely, of Munster and Ulster players, captained by outside half Ronan O’Gara (outside-half) and featuring fellow British Lions, Keith Earls (full-back), Donncha O’Callaghan (lock) and Andrew Trimble (wing).  

It was also an ideal an opportunity for, Ireland coach, Declan Kidney to try out younger players such as Ulster wing, Craig Gilroy, who crowned a fine game with a try.

An enthusiastic Gloucester crowd, bathed in the evening sunshine, urged on the Barbarians but were generous in their applause for the competitive physicality and flowing rugby that both sides displayed. The pace was relentless, end to end stuff with plenty of tries – and extremely easy on the eye. 

In keeping with tradition in these games, penalty kicks at goal were turned down – that is until the 78th minute.  

With Ireland in front at 28-26, the Barbarians summoned up one last forward surge, resulting in a penalty, awarded for a hand in the ruck, within the Irish 22.  On this occasion, Felipe Contepomi had no hesitation in taking the kick to secure a, single point, victory for his side.

A few purists in the crowd might have questioned the decision, but in the words of the Barbarian coach, all-time great All-Black wing, John Kirwan, ‘You never apologise for winning.’

* It will come as no surprise, to many at Gloucester, that Sale Sharks have announced, today, that Brian Redpath is to become their new coach. When he resigned from Kingsholm, Sale denied any ‘tapping up’ had taken place, but Gloucester issued a statement threatening legal action, should Redpath later be unveiled as their new coach. Watch this space…     

         

 

 

 

 

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2 responses

2 06 2012
Gerry Brace

“Glawster” needing more help from the Scarlets I see Phil!! Keep Blogging. G

2 06 2012
Phil Aldridge

The Glaws website has today confirmed that Davies will take over next season. Who knows, we might yet hear ‘Bread of Heaven’ echoing around Kingsholm!

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