Rugby Union

Graham Kitchener to lead England against the Barbarians

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Graham Kitchener will captain his country this weekend with the Leicester lock announced as the man to lead an England XV for Sunday's game against the Barbarians at Twickenham.

Along side Kitchener, who has yet to make an England appearance, Exeter fly-half Henry Slade has been give vice-captain duties, with coach Joe Lydon having chosen to appoint the duo.

“This England squad is full of talent and will make for an entertaining match against a strong Barbarians side with more than 700 caps between them," Lydon told the Guardian.

“We see this match as an important development opportunity for the players and many of them gained valuable experience working with the senior squad and coaches over the last week.

He added: “We have seen 10 players involved in these Barbarians fixtures over the last two years who have gone on to win caps for England."

Thanks to Saturday's Aviva Premiership final and the first Test against New Zealand on June 7, England are without the services of 45 players, giving a number of others their first taste of international rugby.

They do, however, have three players with full England caps in the form of centre Jonathan Joseph, winger Charlie Sharples and scrum-half Joe Simpson as well as eight players with England Saxons caps.

The Barbarians, on the other hand, have an extremely experienced squad, with over 700 caps between them, led by Lyon and Argentina flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon.

The reputation of the Baa-Baas has, however, has been slightly dented in the last few years. Clive Woodward has been particularly critical, and last summer deemed a British Lions encounter with the Barbarians to be "a waste of time".

However, Barbarians coach Dean Ryan has vowed to bring the excitement back to the sports most famous invitational game.

"I think everyone has a responsibility to make this fixture competitive because the history of the Barbarians is there," said Ryan, speaking to "But the here and now needs to be looked after as much as everything else.  

"That requires the group respecting what's gone on in the past, but also being aware of their responsibility to act here and now. And that's something we've impressed upon the group.

"We're aware of times when that hasn't gone well, and this group have articulated that they are pretty keen to separate themselves from that, and put in a competitive fixture."


England XV: E Daly (Wasps), S Rokoduguni, J Joseph (both Bath), S Hill (Exeter), C Sharples (Gloucester), H Slade (Exeter), J Simpson (Wasps), R Harrison (Sale), R Buchanan, K Sinkler (both Harlequins), M Paterson (Sale), G Kitchener (capt), J Gibson (both Leicester), L Wallace (Harlequins), D Ewers (Exeter).

Replacements: T Taylor (Sale), F Balmain (Leicester), W Collier, C Matthews (both Harlequins), J Gaskell (Sale), D Robson (Gloucester), O Devoto (Bath), R Miller (Sale).

Barbarians: J M Hernandez (Racing Metro & Argentina), J Rokocoko (Bayonne & New Zealand), R Ranger (Montpellier & New Zealand), B Stanley (Clermont & New Zealand), H Gear (Toulouse & New Zealand), B James (Clermont & Australia), J Cowan (Gloucester & New Zealand), S Taumalolo (Perpignan & Tonga), T Paulo (Clermont & Samoa), D Kubriashvili (Stade Francais & Georgia), D O'Callaghan (Munster & Ireland), J Kruger (Racing Metro & South Africa), J M Leguizamon (Lyon & Argentina, capt), A Lapandry (Clermont & France), M Gorgodze (Montpellier & Georgia).

Replacements: A Hore (Maniototo & New Zealand), J Brugnaut (Racing Metro & France), N Lobo (Montpellier & Argentina), J Tekori (Toulouse & Samoa), R Wilson (Ulster & Ireland), T Cubelli (Belgrano & Argentina), F Trinh-Duc (Montpellier & France), A Tuitavake (Montpellier & New Zealand).

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