How Pat Lam and the Baa-baas prepared for record-breaking win


The Barbarians are renowned for bringing players together with free-flowing rugby and a spirit of fun and friendship. But the famous club has always been serious about being competitive on the field and Head Coach Pat Lam put a detailed training programme in place to secure a record 63-45 win over England.

The Barbarians spent just five days together preparing for the game but the tactical shapes the side would use were already in place and communicated to players before their arrival.

Lam also brought in the most comprehensive back room staff ever used by the Barbarians. 

He was joined by forwards coach Jonathan Thomas and backs coach Conor McPhillips from Bristol, while video analyst Stuart Powell recorded drone camera footage of each training session for review. 

Team at training

Watch the Premiership-bound Bristol coach working behind the scenes in our exclusive video here 

Team manager Tim Allnutt was borrowed from Lam’s former side Connacht to make such a fast-moving process run smoothly.

The team squeezed five training sessions – four outdoors, one walkthrough indoors – team meetings for analysis and half-a-dozen more unit meetings into their diary before arriving at Twickenham.

They also found the time to dine out in London’s West End on two evenings – the second of which was in 1970s fancy dress – to bring players from 11 different nations together.

The result? Nine tries scored in devastating style with a hat-trick for England’s own Chris Ashton, two from World Cup winner Victor Vito and single scores from Finn Russell, Semi Radradra, Sitaleki Timani and Greig Laidlaw.

“We wanted our time together to be a celebration – of our friendship and of what the Barbarians stands for – but we wanted to make sure we achieved the maximum we could in the time available to take on an international team,” said Lam.

“To do that we needed to get our preparation spot on – having conversations before people came into camp, making sure they were all on the same page.

“We were blessed to have some wonderful players available to us and these are proud men. 

"They want to enhance their reputations and earn the respect of their teammates, and they showed that in the way they conducted themselves throughout the week, and the way they played for each other in attack and in defence.

“It was a unique team – one that will never play again – and the memories of their time together will be lasting ones as a result.”