England fell to a third successive defeat as the Barbarians overcame a first-half red card shown to Will Skelton to win 52-21 at Twickenham, their biggest victory in the fixture.
Skelton became the first player sent off in Barbarians history when his shoulder to the head of Patrick Schickerling ended the Exeter prop’s afternoon because of a failed head injury assessment.
Forced to play 43 minutes with only 14 men, Fabien Galthie’s men showed their class by continuing to run in tries with Damian Penaud crossing twice and Baptiste Couilloud, Louis Carbonel, Max Spring and Antoine Hastoy also on the scoresheet.
Even the arrival of Danny Care early in the third quarter for his first international appearance in nearly four years failed to inspire disjointed England, who fired only in sporadic bursts.
Eddie Jones had picked the usual mix of youth and experience for the annual uncapped international, but even allowing for the experimental line-up it was a disappointing outing ahead of next month’s three-Test series against Australia.
To rub salt into England’s wounds, their former lock George Kruis kicked three conversions including an outrageous backheel to head into retirement with a smile on his face.
As a mark of respect for former Wales international Phil Bennett, who died last Sunday, the Barbarians players formed the number 10 before a minute’s applause was heard for a player who represented the invitational club 20 times.
— World Rugby (@WorldRugby) June 19, 2022
England wings Joe Cokanasiga and Jonny May were looking to make big impressions to secure their places to Australia following injury-enforced absences and they experienced mixed fortunes.
Cokanasiga was prominent amid a promising start by the hosts and he brought Twickenham to its feet with a jet-fuelled break out of the 22 only for the defensive cover to collar the supporting Harry Randall.
Marcus Smith drew first blood with a penalty but the Barbarians surged ahead through an 18th-minute penalty try awarded against May for a deliberate knock-on as they sought to exploit an overlap on the right.
England, wearing their red kit, launched a purposeful attack but a loose pass by Randall was picked off by Charles Ollivon who was able to complete the foot race to the whitewash.
At 14-3 down inside the first half-hour, it was looking bleak for Jones’ men with a missed penalty by Smith failing to lift spirits and soon after tighthead prop Will Collier was brought off as a tactical replacement.
The game appeared to turn on its head during a three-minute spell during which Skelton was sent off, Smith kicked a penalty and Cokanasiga scored a try created by Smith and Tommy Freeman, but another twist quickly followed.
Looking to break out of the 22, Mark Atkinson’s pass intended for Cokanasiga instead fell to Penaud and the French wing cantered in for a simple finish.
The Barbarians continued to shrug off the absence of Skelton when a defensive lapse allowed Yoan Tanga to surge through the middle and Couilloud arrived to complete the move.
England sprung into life, with Care’s arrival making a difference as Smith began to weave his magic to create a try scored by May, but Penaud added a second with an acrobatic finish that was examined in great detail by the TMO.
Big carries by Tom Curry and May created the space for Smith to dart over but despite showing encouraging flashes in attack, England just could not pull clear.
Nolann Le Garrec chipped over the defence for Carbonel to touch down but there was better to come from the Barbarians as Spring touched down after a sweeping move before Hastoy completed the rout.