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Ryan wants to restore Baa-Baas' rep


Juan Manuel Leguizamon will lead the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday

Juan Manuel Leguizamon will lead the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday

Juan Manuel Leguizamon will lead the Barbarians at Twickenham on Sunday

Dean Ryan has challenged the Barbarians to restore the reputation and relevance of the world-famous invitational side in Sunday's Twickenham clash against the England XV.

Head coach Ryan admits the Barbarians have a responsibility to shake off criticism the much-loved traditional outfit suffered last summer.

England's World Cup-winning coach Sir Clive Woodward claimed it was a 'waste of time' the British and Irish Lions facing the Barbarians in Hong Kong en route to Australia last summer.

England routed a lacklustre Barbarians line-up 40-12 at Twickenham last summer, and Worcester rugby director Ryan admitted his side can ill afford any repeat.

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

"And 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.

"Because it's crucial to the success of something, we all marvel at this group, the fact that we can bring this group together under the same banner should not be lost.

"But then it shouldn't be lost on the responsibility of those involved to ensure they maintain it, and that's something we've expressed very clearly."

The Barbarians were criticised for taking their social exploits too far last summer, off-field high-jinks clearly damaging performance levels.

Woodward labelled the Barbarians 'dishevelled and uninterested' in that five-try England defeat, and former England number eight Ryan is conscious of the reputational damage.

The former Saracens and Newcastle loose-forward said the Barbarians must fight to marry rugby's traditional elements with the modern-day ultra-professional reality.

Ryan refused to impose a drinking ban in advance of Sunday's Twickenham clash, but challenged his players to uphold high personal standards.

"I think everyone's got individual responsibilities, the nature of this isn't coming under me or anyone else, everyone who comes here has a responsibility to maintain what the Barbarians is about," said Ryan.

"Part of that is getting to know the 23 people involved in the week before, and build relationships, but that has to be balanced with it being a competitive fixture.

"But it must be about balance: We haven't turned up with 45 computers and analysed England, it's not about that either.

"It only works if it is a balance and the players individually recognise their responsibility on Sunday."

Lyon and Argentina flanker Juan Manuel Leguizamon will captain a line-up boasting more than 700 international appearances.

Ireland and British Lions lock Donncha O'Callaghan will make his Barbarians debut in a starting line-up boasting five All Blacks.

England are missing as many as 45 players thanks to Saturday's Aviva Premiership final and the first Test against New Zealand on June 7.

Ryan praised England for still fielding a side containing three full caps, indicating the depth of talent available to head coach Stuart Lancaster.

"It's a new experience for me to try to capture the vast experience in the squad in such a short time-frame," said Ryan.

"It's alright having a million different ideas but we've got three days to refine them, so we've spent a lot of time stating what they want to do.

"Any one of these players could have captained this side, but we felt Juan captured what we want to do with this group.

"This England side might be a few chunks down the conveyor belt because of other fixtures and commitments, but it still looks extremely healthy.

"It shows an extremely healthy picture of rugby in England."