Eddie Jones admitted his England team were “shocked” by the Barbarians’ ferocity as they fell to a fourth successive defeat in a 63-45 collapse at Twickenham.
The Barbarians had completed only three training sessions as preparation for the non-cap international, head coach Pat Lam filming one of them for the benefit of those who had enthusiastically honoured the club’s social traditions.
Among the festivities organised to bond the players as quickly as possible was a 1970s fancy dress dinner that saw hat-trick hero Chris Ashton attend as a hippy, Finn Russell as Austin Powers and Justin Tipuric as the Cookie Monster.
“I said, ‘Fellas, that was a really good training session but I know that some of you probably don’t even remember it. But you can look at the pictures!’” Lam said.
“My analysis guy was key because I knew even though the players might be half cut in the morning they could still see the pictures.”
In contrast, England had been in camp for two weeks yet were still taken apart 9-6 on the try-count as they collapsed to their heaviest ever defeat at Twickenham.
“It felt like we were playing one-day cricket – score for score. In the first 20 minutes we struggled to adjust to the speed of the game. We got a bit shocked by it,” Jones said.
“We adjusted well, got ourselves back into the game and played some good rugby.
“But then when we got fatigued in the last 20 minutes we made some crucial errors in execution and it ended up costing us the game.
“We played against a very good, fast, powerful Barbarians team and at times we struggled to cope with that.
“We are obviously disappointed with the result. Every time we play we want to win. I’m not happy about them scoring nine tries and we need to go back and look at that.”
Well done @Barbarian_FC brilliant stuff and great to watch. 🏉🍺🏉🍺🏉🍺🍾🥇— Alastair Kellock (@AlastairKellock) May 27, 2018
Ashton plundered three tries in 25 minutes against the nation he has served across 39 caps – the second fastest hat-trick witnessed at Twickenham – but wanted more to remind England of his ruthless streak.
On two occasions he was chased down by George Ford, who showed a surprising turn of speed to deny the Toulon wing as the line beckoned.
“I don’t think there was a point to prove. I knew there were great players here and Pat has done a great job with us all week in such a short space of time,” Ashton said.
“It was great opportunity for me and I wanted to carry on doing what I’ve been doing all year. I’d like to have scored a couple more but I’ll take three.”
On being caught by Ford, Ashton said: “That was probably the first three days of being with the Baabaas! George is quick, he did well.”