Fri, Nov 30, 2007 - Page 23 News List

Hooker Mark Regan defies his club to lead the Barbarians

AFP , LONDON

England hooker Mark Regan has been confirmed as the captain of the Barbarians team to play South Africa in a non-cap international at Twickenham even though his club, Bristol, could fine him for playing in tomorrow's fixture with the world champions.

Premier Rugby, which runs England's Premiership, has threated to fine member clubs whose players appear for the invitational Barbarians side in this fixture because it does not take place on an agreed international weekend.

The umbrella body only recently signed an agreement with England's Rugby Football Union regarding the vexed issue of player release for full Tests following a series of "club versus country" rows.

However, the 35-year-old Regan, a member of the England team beaten 15-6 by South Africa in last month's World Cup final in Paris, said after Wednesday's team announcement: "I was asked to captain the Barbarians and I consider it a massive honor to do that. I'll be leading out the side at Twickenham."

Regan would otherwise be having a weekend off after being told he wasn't needed for Bristol's "dead" Anglo-Welsh Cup match with Leeds on Sunday.

His England front-row colleague Andrew Sheridan withdrew from the Barbarians squad earlier on Wednesday because of club commitments with Premiership side Sale.

Sheridan's place was taken by prop JD Moller, one of three players from South Afica's Stormers Super 14 side on the bench (the other two are Schalk Brits and Peter Grant) who could now find themselves playing against their own country.

The Barbarians' starting line-up features five All Blacks, including ace wing Joe Rokocoko, with Australia's Matt Giteau at outside-half.

Jason Robinson was named by Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan, in charge of the Barbarians for this fixture, at fullback for what is set to be the England international's final senior rugby match before retirement.

However, the fitness of the former Great Britain rugby league international remains uncertain after his second-half substitution in the World Cup final with a shoulder injury.

"Jason has made a miraculous recovery," O'Sullivan said. "He had a run out yesterday [on Tuesday] and was fine, but we are assessing him closely."

Last weekend South Africa beat Wales 34-12 at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

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