In the heart of Cardiff at the Principality Stadium, a gripping rugby spectacle is set to unfold this Saturday as Wales gears up to face the formidable Barbarians. Led by captain Jac Morgan, the Welsh team, featuring 12 Rugby World Cup squad members, is ready to showcase their skills in a non-cap fixture, bringing both excitement and emotion to the field.
Head coach Warren Gatland has carefully curated his squad, integrating experienced players like George North, Adam Beard, and Aaron Wainwright, who played pivotal roles in the recent World Cup quarter-final against Argentina. A notable inclusion is Dragons prop Lloyd Fairbrother, making his debut for Wales due to the unavailability of key players in the tighthead position.
Gatland, looking forward to the challenge, remarked, “Playing a Barbarians side filled with quality players is a good challenge for this group and a chance for players to show what they are about.” He emphasised the match’s significance, marking the farewell appearances of two Welsh rugby legends – full-back Leigh Halfpenny and record cap holder Alun Wyn Jones, who retired from Test rugby earlier this year after making 158 Test match appearances for his country.
In a career spanning 101 caps and 801 points, Leigh Halfpenny has been a stalwart for Wales, earning respect and admiration from fans and peers alike. Joining him in international retirement, Alun Wyn Jones, a revered figure in Welsh rugby, will be celebrated by fans as he bids adieu to the sport.
Gatland underscored the match’s importance for the departing veterans and the emerging talents within the squad. “We are looking forward to getting back out in front of a home crowd on Saturday,” he shared, expressing the team’s eagerness to perform in front of their supporters.
The upcoming clash against the Barbarians holds special significance, providing an ideal platform for promising players such as Tom Rogers, Ben Carter, and Harri O’Connor to demonstrate their capabilities on the international stage. As anticipation builds among rugby enthusiasts, Cardiff prepares to host a match that promises not only exceptional skill but also a touch of sentiment, making it a must-watch for fans and a poignant moment in the annals of Welsh rugby history.
Team: L Halfpenny (unattached); T Rogers (Scarlets), G North (Ospreys), J Williams (Scarlets), R Dyer (Dragons); S Costelow (Scarlets), Tomos Williams (Cardiff); C Domachowski (Cardiff), D Lake (Ospreys), L Fairbrother (Dragons), B Carter (Dragons), A Beard (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Dragons), J Morgan (Ospreys, capt), A Wainwright (Dragons).
Replacements: E Dee (Dragons), N Smith (Ospreys), H O’Connor (Scarlets), Teddy Williams (Cardiff), T Plumtree (Scarlets), K Hardy (Scarlets), C Evans (Dragons), M Grady (Cardiff).