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‘English duo Jonny May and David Ribbans receive Barbarians call-up to take on Fiji: Planet Rugby
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‘English duo Jonny May and David Ribbans receive Barbarians call-up to take on Fiji: Planet Rugby

England internationals Jonny May and David Ribbans will don the Barbarians jersey for this summer’s Killik Cup tie against Fiji at Twickenham Stadium.

Both players are set to represent the Baa-Baas for the first time in their careers in the match against the Flying Fijians on Saturday, June 22, although Ribbans’ participation is dependent on his club side Toulon qualifying for the semi-finals of the Top 14.

Former Crusaders and Wallabies head coach Robbie Deans will take charge of the invitees, which already include Ben Youngs, Zach Mercer, Jonathan Joseph and Danny Care.

Back-to-back games

More than 50,000 people have already secured their places for the biggest rugby show of the summer, with the ticket also including entry to the South Africa v Wales clash, which takes place before the Barbarians take on Fiji.

May ended a 10-year international career six months ago after the 2023 Rugby World Cup in France, having made 78 Test appearances for England to his name – scoring 36 tries along the way and finishing second on the all-time try-scoring card for his country.

The explosive wing made his England debut in 2013 against Argentina, and announced himself on the international stage the following year with an extraordinary first Test try against New Zealand.

May was also the top try scorer in the 2019 Six Nations when he crossed six times, and on his way to the 2019 Rugby World Cup final with England he finished twice against Australia in the quarter-final on his 50th cap.

The 34-year-old came through the Academy system at Gloucester, enjoying two spells with the Cherry and Whites during his career and making just under 200 appearances for the Kingsholm team to date. He also spent three seasons with Leicester Tigers, scoring 30 tries in 44 games for East Midlands.

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May is yet to represent Barbarian FC – but has featured against the invitational team in uncapped international matches for England in 2013, 2017, 2018 and 2022 – and can’t wait to fulfill a lifelong ambition by wearing the black and white jersey to put on the first time.

“The Barbarians are a team you watch as a kid and hope you get a chance to play one day,” he said. “I’ve been asked to play before, but it never quite worked out with other commitments, so I’m glad I get the chance now.

“This is a team that everyone is always interested in watching, and it’s an inspiring team to watch as a young player. It is an honor and a privilege for me to be involved in this.

“The fact that it is also in Twickenham makes it very special for me personally. You never know when the last time will be, and this might be it. It’s always a great thing to do when you step onto the field in the home of English rugby, and going back there with a different team is pretty awesome.

“I’ve played against the Baa-Baas a few times now and it’s always a challenge for the international side. You’re coming up against a team who are off the pressure and who want to let the ball fly, so I’m really excited to be on the other side this time!

“From what you hear, even though you’re actually playing a Test match at the end of the week, the preparation is different to other teams and I’m looking forward to seeing what that’s like. The Barbarians have a different view on things, bring that back and encourage the team to have some fun, express themselves and play with freedom.

“It is an exciting opportunity and I plan to seize the opportunity, meet new people and celebrate the game of rugby.”

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Ribbons ready for call

Having earned 11 England caps since making his debut in 2022, Ribbans made the switch to Toulon after last year’s Rugby World Cup.

The towering 28-year-old lock has helped the French giants break into the Top 14 play-offs this season, making 19 appearances so far following his move to the Côte d’Azur from Premier League side Northampton Saints (where he won 121 matches). in seven seasons in England).

“It is very exciting to be considered for selection for the Barbarians – one of the most historic and best-known rugby clubs in the world,” said Ribbans.

“Obviously I am now focused on the Top 14 run-in with Toulon and fully committed to the team. We are in a great position to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition this summer.

“But if I am available to play for the Baa-Baas, it will be a dream come true to wear that black and white jersey for the first time. I am very excited about what the coming months have in store.”

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