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Season review 2017-18: Lift-off in Lismore

The 2017-18 season was a stellar one for the Barbarians — one of the club’s greatest, packed full of highlights — and we’re showcasing each of the matches over the course of this week.


The Baa-baas scored 36 tries in seven games, ran up a record victory against England, launched their first ever women’s team, and produced some thrilling attacking rugby against New Zealand and Australia.

Four coaches took charge of the team – Alan Jones, Robbie Deans, Giselle Mather and Pat Lam — all putting their own spin on the unique invitation side.

Jones had coached the Wallabies to a Grand Slam in the Northern Hemisphere in 1984 and was coaxed out of retirement to take control of the team for two games in Australia.

Sam Greene

Sam Greene scored twice in Lismore against the Classic Wallabies

The season kicked off in Northern New South Wales, where the team took on a Classic Wallabies side in a flood relief benefit match in Lismore, where the lines three-and-a-half metres up the posts marked the level of the flooding that had engulfed the town.


A crowd of 3,000 at Crozier Field watched them win 27-24 and share nine tries with the Classics, who fielded veterans of the calibre of Drew Mitchell, Lote Tuqiri and Morgan Turinui in their ranks.

Brumbies full back Tom Banks and Japan-based fly half Sam Greene each scored two tries and Force lock Richard Arnold – twin brother of the Wallabies’ Rory – galloped over to put the Baa-baas 27-12 clear early in the second half.

But the invitation side couldn’t finish several decent chances after that and then clung on as Jock Armstrong and Byron Hutchinson scoring in the closing minutes. Tuqiri had opened the account for the Classics with Alex Gibbon also striking in the first half.

“We made quite a few mistakes but that wasn’t my concern,” said Jones. “My concern was that we really had a go with the football. We played more ball in the air than we did on the ground. There was a heap of kids who played very, very well.”

BARBARIANS: Tom Banks (Brumbies); Jack Maddocks (Rebels), Tom Connor (Warringah), David Horwitz (Waratahs), Andrew Kellaway (Waratahs); Sam Greene (Toyota), Michael Ruru (Force, captain); Sef Fa’agase (Reds), Anaru Rangi (Force), Salesi Manu (Bond), Richard Arnold (Force), Matt Philip (Force), Max Girdler (Warringah), Kane Koteka (Force), Sam Ward (Warringah).

Replacements: Andrew Ready (Reds), Pekahou Cowan (Force & Australia), Taniela Tupou (Reds), Sam Carter (Brumbies & Australia), Isi Naisarani (Force), Theo Strang (Sydney University), Tim Nanai-Williams (Chiefs & Samoa), Brett Wellington (Scots College).