Winners and losers from Wales v Barbarians as legends bow out in style

Jared Wright
Wales' Leigh Halfpenny hugs Barbarians' Alun Wyn Jones as he is substituted off in his final appearance for the country during the Autumn International match at the Principality Stadium

Wales' Leigh Halfpenny hugs Barbarians' Alun Wyn Jones as he is substituted off in his final appearance for the country during the Autumn International match at the Principality Stadium.

Following a hugely entertaining game between Wales and the Barbarians, here are our winners and losers from the match at the Principality Stadium.

The high-paced fixture saw Wales emerge 49-26 victors on an emotional day for Welsh Rugby fans as they bid farewell to long-time servants to their game.


Rugby fans

The truth is, everyone enjoys a Barbarians fixture, and while this one wasn’t a vintage performance, it was still enjoyable.

Scott Robertson and Eddie Jones embraced the Baa-baas spirit today, as did those on the field with flashes of brilliance from exciting players.

In particular, it was great to see Michael Hooper and Justin Tipuric in the same starting line-up. The pair have been among the greatest openside flankers over the past decade of international rugby, and they did not disappoint on Saturday, putting it all on the line. For many, it was a fantasy to see the pair line up together, and they lived up to the hype.

Not to forget Angus Bell’s delightful grubber to set up a try, lovely stuff!

Retiring and retired international stars

When Alun Wyn Jones and Tipuric played their final games in Welsh red, the supporters did not know it would be the final time they would see them in action at the Principality – two legends of Wales and players that deserved a better send-off. Today was not ideal, but it was something, and it was a game played with a wonderful spirit and still with a competitive edge.

Jones finished off a wonderful try for the Barbarians and walked away with the Player of the Match award in a performance where he showed his usual grit mixed in with some flair and superb offloads. The always humble man dubbed the accolade as “a bit of tokenism”, but he was excellent in his last game at the iconic stadium.

As for Leigh Halfpenny. It was a fitting send-off as he prepares for what is next, possibly a move to New Zealand. It was the brilliant full-back’s final game in the Wales jersey, and quite frankly, it was no different from the other 100+. There is no doubt that he is a Welsh Rugby great, and he showed it again.

He was given a fitting standing ovation as he left the pitch. A well-deserved send-off.

Nicolas Sanchez

The Los Pumas fly-half has seemingly gained a yard or two this year and has produced some 2017-esque performances, an era he was arguably at his absolute best.

Sanchez is 34 years old now, but it is still puzzling that a top club around the world has not picked him up. He was released by Brive ahead of the World Cup, and even after a strong tournament, there are seemingly no suitors for the experienced number 10.

He got another opportunity to show what he is capable of today and made the best of it, hopefully enough to earn a contract in Europe.


URC fans

Warren Gatland’s charges performed beyond expectation at the 2023 Rugby World Cup, and Welsh URC fans would have loved to see their best in action this weekend.

The decision to host this match, although it was great for Welsh Rugby’s struggling finances, undermines the importance of the United Rugby Championship, particularly when one considers that a regional derby between the Scarlets and Cardiff kicked off soon after the final whistle.

The fans spend hard-earned money for season and matchday tickets and have been robbed of seeing their stars in action in what is usually a highly anticipated fixture.

Welsh regions

The Ospreys are flying high at the start of this season, especially after defeating the Sharks at the Twickenham Stoop, but the Dragons and Scarlets would have loved to get their stars back after back-to-back defeats to start the season.

Besides the fact that it has been a challenging start to the season, the Champions Cup and Challenge Cup are fast approaching, and every match will be crucial to reintegrating and resting players where necessary.

Eddie Jones

The now-former Wallabies head coach is just not a popular man, no matter where he goes.

Even though he was seated next to the hugely popular Razor Robertson throughout the game, he was booed each time he was shown on the big screen at the Principality.

While Jones was perplexed that he was booed in France throughout the Rugby World Cup, he will be well aware of the reasonings for the Welsh boos.

Sports fans have long memories, and it was all the way back in 2017 when Jones referred to Wales as a “little sh*t place”, and you best believe that factored into the jeers.

Hooper also produced a super performance against Wales, that after Jones snubbed the Wallabies legend when naming his World Cup squad.

READ MORE: Leigh Halfpenny gets a fitting send-off as Wales crush Barbarians in thriller