The Barbarians have named 4 Rugby World Cup winners in an initial group of 8 players in their squad to face Samoa at the Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, next weekend.
The teams are taking part in the 1st rugby match played at the iconic London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic venue next Saturday (29 August).
South Africa’s Bakkies Botha and Wynand Olivier lifted the trophy in 2007, while New Zealand’s Ali Williams and Adam Thomson were victorious in 2011.
They will be joined by more famous forwards in the shape of South Africa No 8 Pierre Spies, New Zealand prop Carl Hayman, and Australia prop Benn Robinson and flank Liam Gill.
Between them, the 8 players have amassed 342 international caps with Botha retiring from professional rugby later this year having made 85 appearances for the Springboks.
Springbok lock Bakkies Botha, who announced his retirement from international rugby late last year, will head up a strong group of Test icons for the match between South Africa and a World XV at DHL Newlands in Cape Town on Saturday 11 July 2015.
Botha is 1 of 9 Toulon players who will line up against the Springboks. The giants from the south of France recently won their 3rd consecutive European club title.
Toulon coach Bernard Laporte, who was previously in charge of the French national team, will assist former Wallaby and Crusaders coach Robbie Deans with the World XV.
Botha’s Toulon team-mates who have been confirmed for the World XV are Delon Armitage (fullback), David Smith (wing), Rudi Wulf (centre), Maxime Mermoz (centre), Steffon Armitage (loose forward), Ali Williams (lock), Craig Burden (hooker) and Alexandre Menini (prop).
Added to this list are Springbok and Vodacom Bulls centre JJ Engelbrecht, Wallaby scrumhalf Luke Burgess and France scrumhalf Maxime Machenaud. The World XV will be captained by Louis-Benoit Madaule, who plays on the flank for French club Bordeaux Begles.
Toulon boss Mourad Boudjellal took aim at the Stade Bordeaux spectators for showing “disrespect” to 1 of the game’s greatest players.
Stade Français stunned triple European champions Toulon 33 / 16 last Friday to reach the French Top 14 Final.
Led by the irrepressible Italian back row forward Sergio Parisse, Stade scored tries through flanks Rapahel Lakafia and Antoine Bourban, before a freak late score from wing Julien Arias gave a flattering skew to the final score – as they reached their 1st Final since defeating Clermont 23 / 18 in 2007.
It was a sad end for a number of veteran stalwarts, whose club careers ended with this defeat – including South Africa’s Bakkies Botha, along with Ali Williams and Carl Hayman of New Zealand.
Outgoing Toulon coach Bernard Laporte took aim at the players, for a lack of commitment, but the club President, Boudjellal, turned anger on the spectators.
All Black legend Ali Williams vowed to spend his time fishing and hunting after announcing his retirement from the game.
The 33-year-old New Zealand international lock joined European and French champions Toulon at the beginning of last season, after a career spent with the Blues and Crusaders.
“I’ve enjoyed every day that I’ve played rugby and I’m still enjoying it to the end but my body’s said enough is enough,” said Williams.
“There’s huge motivation to go out on a winning note but like anything you can’t look to the prizes, you have to look to the processes for the next few months to try to get to the prizes.
New Zealand international lock Ali Williams said on Thursday he is on the verge of prolonging his stay at European champions Toulon beyond the end of this season.
Today is the third and final day of matches in the first round of the pool stage of the Heineken Cup. In what is arguably the pick of the day’s matches Glasgow Warriors travel to France to take on Toulon. These teams currently top the RabboDirect PRO12 and French Top 14 respectively. The game is due to kick off at 16.00 South African Time.
Ali Williams says he enjoyed being on the same side as South African Bakkies Botha for a change, having locked horns with the giant former Springbok on numerous occasions for club and country.
Blues lock Ali Williams will make his 100th appearance for the Blues when they tackle the Sharks at Kings Park on Saturday.
The skipper is set to join an illustrious group of players featuring Keven Mealamu, John Afoa and Tony Woodcock who have played 100 games for the Blues.
The Blues on Monday named veteran lock Ali Williams as captain for the 2013 season, with coach John Kirwan saying it will give the 77-Test veteran a chance to prove his doubters wrong.