Barbarians ‘seething’ over ‘shambles’ comments

The president of the Barbarians says he is considering taking legal action after former Wales flyhalf Jonathan Davies and ex-England captain Dylan Hartley both criticised this past Saturday’s cancelled match against Samoa.

The fixture between the Barbarians and Samoa was called off 90 minutes before kick-off at Twickenham after six positive Covid-19 tests within the Barbarians camp.

In the immediate aftermath, Davies hit out at the situation as an “unforgivable shambles” and brought up last year’s cancellation of a fixture against England, where 13 Barbarians players broke Covid protocols and were subsequently banned by the RFU.

Meanwhile, former England hooker Hartley said it was “beyond embarrassing” that the Barbarians could not fulfil the fixture, especially after the challenges Samoa had to overcome to play at Twickenham.

In an interview with The Times, Barbarians president John Spencer, who is also a lawyer, defended the team and said he will consult the club’s committee to decide whether to take legal action over the comments.

“I am seething about the comments of Jonathan Davies and Dylan Hartley,” Spencer told The Times. “We are accused of being disorganised and a shambles and our main concern is to ensure there is no long-term harm to the Barbarians. As a lawyer I am seriously considering our [legal] position on this and it is in my mind.

“We could not have been more careful this time and the players have been more than responsible. The team and management were tested every day and we also had PCR tests on Friday and we had a team ready to go onto the pitch that was Covid free.

“There is, apparently, a difference between what happened with positive tests in the England camp in the Autumn Tests which was viewed as ‘isolated’ and the ‘uncontrolled outbreak’ view to our situation. That makes it sound like we have not controlled ourselves, which is not the case. We couldn’t have done anything more.

“When we did go out for a meal in the week we were in a separate part of the restaurant and all went by taxi. They have not misbehaved and no blame whatsoever should be placed on either the management or players. We put in place the elite sport-bubble protocols and fully observed them.”

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