'Dingo' Deans to take on the ABs at Twickenham

by AFP

Robbie Deans will coach the Barbarians against his native New Zealand when the teams meet at Twickenham later this year, the invitational club has announced.

The Killik Cup clash on November 4 will celebrate the 125th anniversary of the foundation of the New Zealand Rugby Union.

For Deans, a former fullback capped five times by the All Blacks, it will be his third stint in charge of the Barbarians, having most recently overseen last year's 31-31 draw with South Africa across London at Wembley. 

November's fixture will revive memories of the most celebrated of all Barbarians matches, a 23-11 win over New Zealand at Cardiff in 1973 which saw Wales great Gareth Edwards cap a length-of-the-field move to score what is still widely regarded as one of the best tries in rugby history.

"That was a landmark fixture that set high standards of how the game could be played in people's minds and a huge part of the rivalry stems from that," - Robbie Deans. 

"It launched the Barbarians to another level in terms of interest in them and their mystique," added Deans, 57, in a Barbarians statement.

England, whose governing Rugby Football Union owns Twickenham, had approached the NZRU about playing the reigning world champion All Blacks at 'headquarters' on November 4 instead of the Barbarians.

But New Zealand officials opted to stick with the Barbarians.

Deans said that was testament to the enduring appeal of a fixture which the Barbarians also won in 2009, with Bryan Habana, the outstanding Springbok wing, scoring a hat-trick of tries. 

November's match - the All Blacks' first at Twickenham since they won the 2015 Rugby World Cup final at the southwest London ground - promises to be as tough as any the Barbarians have had in recent times.

Deans, speaking before New Zealand's 30-15 first Test win against the British and Irish Lions in Auckland on Saturday, added: "We want to be able to test the All Blacks - we don't want to spend all day chasing them."