Fabien Galthie inspires Barbarian players through Phil Bennett ahead of England clash
Fabien Galthie jokes there’s ‘no pressure’ on his barbarian players as superstars take inspiration from Welsh rugby legend Phil Bennett’s epic try-out ahead of England clash at Twickenham
The day began with a few friendly introductions. Virimi Vakatawa and Levani Botia were the first to arrive for the morning meeting, walking to shake hands in their fresh-out-of-the-pack Barbarians T-shirts.
One by one, the room filled with superstars. Charles Ollivon, George Kruis and Will Skelton were the last to sit down, prompting everyone behind them to move around for a view beyond their giant frames.
Before the coach briefings began, chairman John Spencer rose to welcome everyone, saying a few words about the late Phil Bennett.
The Barbarians drew inspiration from Wales and British Lions legend Phil Bennett
Bennett died on June 12 and his memory will live on as coaches search for clips to show stars
The Sunday Mail gained unique access to the team’s camp in Monaco, where Fabien Galthie was next.
On the big screen, he broadcast images of this 1973 trial, initiated by Bennett himself. “No pressure,” he joked.
After Galthie gave an overview, his assistants talked about the details of attacking, defending, breaking down and kicking. There were detailed slideshows, running through images of the Six Nations.
Everything was in French; even Shaun Edwards’ presentation on the plan to stop England’s attack.
Shaun Edwards (second from left)’s thoughts on how to stop England were delivered in French
The post was short and to the point, with Edwards repeatedly mentioning the speed [speed] in his Franco-Wigan accent as he stressed the importance of defending the 22-yard line.
After about an hour, we left the team hotel and waited for a mini-bus in the lobby, where a custom gold McLaren and several Bentleys were parked.
At a nearby training ground, they carried out drills in the 30C heat, with Kruis offering his expert input during a line-up session.
A three-course lunch followed at a restaurant overlooking the ocean. There had been chatter about the night before, when they were greeted by Prince Albert at the palace.
At one point, in old-school Baa-Baas spirit, a staff member from the back room stood up to drink a pint of beer.
Later, there were other meetings and a training match against France under 20. At the end of the session, some players looked exhausted from the heat. It was clear that this team was serious.