Kruis bows out with Top 14 stars for the Barbarians against England

·3-min read

George Kruis will make one last appearance at Twickenham after being named in a Barbarians XV dominated by players from France's Top 14 for Sunday's non-cap international against England.

Barbarians boss Fabien Galthie, the France head coach, had already named Les Bleus' Charles Ollivon as captain for a match that will act as a warm-up for England's three-Test tour of Australia next month.

But Ollivon will be joined by 13 more Top 14 players in the starting side, with the only player from outside the French top-flight in the run-on XV former England lock Kruis, who will retire after this game.

Kruis, who won 45 England caps from 2014-20, has spent the last two years with Japanese club Saitama Wild Knights.

The 32-year-old is reunited in a second row alongside Australia's Will Skelton, a former team-mate at English giants Saracens now currently playing at newly-crowned European champions La Rochelle.

Six Nations champions France provide 10 players in a starting XV also featuring Fiji's Levani Botia and the Georgia duo of Beka Gigashvili and Davit Niniashvili, all of whom play their club rugby in France.

- 'Barbarians with a French accent' -

"We have 19 French players, so we are the British Barbarians with a French accent!" Galthie said Thursday. "We have a good balance of very young players and experienced players."

He added he was looking forward to seeing 2019 World Cup finalist Kruis and Skelton line up together.

"It is like a present for George because they played at Saracens years ago," Galthie said. "It is a nice story."

Barbarians officials will be desperate for the game to go ahead after a pair of embarrassing call-offs scuppered their last two men's matches at Twickenham.

A scheduled fixture against England in October 2020 was called off two days in advance after it emerged that 13 Barbarians players had broken Covid-19 protocols, while November's game with Samoa was abandoned on the morning of the game following a virus outbreak.

Sunday's match will also be the first for the invitational side since the death of Wales fly-half great Phil Bennett at the age of 73 was announced last week.

It was Bennett's side-stepping brilliance deep in his own 22 that initiated arguably the greatest try in rugby union history during a 1973 win for the Barbarians over New Zealand in Cardiff, with half-back partner Gareth Edwards completing a length-of-the-field move.

Barbarians team to play England (15-1)

Max Spring (FRA); Damien Penaud (FRA), Virimi Vakatawa (FRA), Levani Botia (FIJ), Davit Niniashvili (GEO); Antoine Hastoy (FRA), Baptiste Couilloud (FRA); Yoan Tanga (FRA), Charles Ollivon (FRA, capt), Dylan Cretin (FRA); Will Skelton (AUS), George Kruis (ENG); Beka Gigashvili (GEO), Pierre Bourgarit (FRA), Jean-Baptiste Gros (FRA)

Replacements: Danny Priso (FRA), Christopher Tolofua (FRA), Sipili Falatea (FRA), Thomas Lavault (FRA), Nolann Le Garrec (FRA), Louis Carbonel (FRA), Sekou Macalou (FRA), Tani Vili (FRA)

Coach: Fabien Galthie (FRA)

jdg/lp

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