Wallabies giant Will Skelton has made an unwelcome piece of rugby history by becoming the first player to ever get sent off while playing for the Barbarians.
Yet the colossal Australian’s first-half dismissal in Sunday’s non-cap international at Twickenham still didn’t stop the French-dominated invitation side offering Eddie Jones’ England a humbling 52-21 defeat on their home patch.
Skelton became the first player in the Baa-Baas’ 132-year history to get his marching orders, after his shoulder to the head of Patrick Schickerling in the 37th minute forced the Exeter prop out of the match over a failed head injury assessment.
Yet even when having to play 43 minutes with only 14 men, Fabien Galthie’s side, featuring Les Bleus players who’d shone in their Six Nations grand slam triumph, offered England a humbling loss before their tour to Australia.
Eddie Jones had put some youthful faces into the fray but, even given the experimental feel to the line-up, the defeat was a fairly humiliating one – their biggest defeat to the Baa-baas, even though they’d played more than one half with a man advantage.
Skelton deservedly got sent off after Schickerling had knocked the ball on around England’s 22 and the La Rochelle second-row shouldered the prop carelessly.
Officials ruled it was a sending off because the 2.03m-tall, 140kg Skelton had time to avoid the collision and didn’t use his arms on Schickerling, who hadn’t actually been in possession of the ball anyway.
The prop didn’t return in the second half after his HIA.
Skelton also might have got lucky that he didn’t get penalised for an earlier hit on Tom Curry.
Still, his absence still didn’t stop the Baa-baas racking up eight tries in total.
Charles Ollivon, Damian Penaud (two), Baptiste Couilloud, Louis Carbonel, Max Spring and Antoine Hastoy all crossed following an early penalty try.
Former England lock George Kruis bowed out from the game in comical style – converting three tries, including one while facing the wrong way as he backheeled the ball over the crossbar and between the posts.
As a mark of respect for former Wales great Phil Bennett, who died last Sunday, the Barbarians players formed the number 10 before a minute’s applause for the man who initiated the Baa-baas’ legendary score against the All Blacks in 1973.
Jones, while playing down the significance of the loss, was still forced to concede: “We were beaten pretty badly at the breakdown, so it’s a good reminder of how much work we have to do before Australia.
“No one is happy about the result but, again, we look at it in the light of what we’re trying to do.
“There’s a contextual situation here. I know you’re struggling to understand it, but we’re trying to build a new team, play a different way, a style that suits that players and there are going to be some ups and downs.”