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Rugby Spring Tour – The Wallabies’ Barbaric Finale

  • December 4th, 2008
  • Posted by Amelia Birnie

The Wallabies ended their 2008 European Spring Tour with an 18-11 victory over an impressive Barbarians line-up at Wembley Stadium in London.

The match marked the 100 year anniversary of Australia’s first Rugby Union Olympic gold medal at the 1908 London Games and was intended to be a friendly match.

However, the game soon developed into a brutal affair punctuated by fights and serious injuries.


The match exploded after half an hour of play, with Australia leading 13-0.

Barbarian prop Federico Pucciariello took exception after a rough tackle on teammate Fourie du Preez by Australian Quade Cooper, proceeding to drive the Wallabies’ five-eighth over the sideline.

After taking out a sideline advertising sign, Pucciariello and Cooper continued to scuffle before teammates arrived to intervene.

Wallabies halfback Brett Sheehan also appeared to be involved in a push-and-shove in the shadow of the Pucciariello scuffle.

At the end of the ferocious match, Australian skipper George Smith was among several players nursing a bloodied head.

“The spectators got their money’s worth and to battle for the whole 80 minutes was a good step in the right direction,” said Smith.


Australian starting props Matt Dunning and Sekope Kepu will face lengthy stints on the sidelines after both were simultaneously replaced in the opening minutes of the second half.

Dunning snapped an Achilles tendon and was taken off in agony, while Kepu grimaced in pain while being assisted from the field with a torn pectoral muscle.

However, Australian coach Robbie Deans is confident in the recovery of his players.

“Both of these are significant injuries. To have it happen in the last outing is not great, but they are resilient characters,” said Deans.


Australia’s win over the Barbarians meant the Wallabies won four of their six tour matches, also beating Italy, England and France.

The Wallabies lost to New Zealand and Wales.

Wallabies (14) v All Blacks (19)
Hong Kong Stadium, Hong Kong

Italy (20) v Wallabies (30)
Stadio Euganeo, Padova

England (14) v Wallabies (28)
Twickenham, London

France (13) v Wallabies (18)
Stade de France, Paris

Wales (21) v Wallabies (18)
Millenium Stadium, Cardiff

Barbarians (11) v Wallabies (18)
Wembley Stadium, London


The New Zealand Herald, “Injuries ruin Wallabies Tour Finale”, (4.12.08)

Australian Rugby Union, “Spring Tour Fixtures and Results”,, (4.12.08)

Agence France-Presse (AFP), “Wallabies end rugby tour with win over Barbarians”, (4.12.08)

Picture: Lachie Turner, Wembley