Wallabies Rocky Elsom and Matt Giteau have been invited to play for the Barbarians against the world champion Springboks in London later this year.
Though he has had chequered form of late, flyhalf Giteau is a mercurial player, who can turn a game in the twinkling of an eye.
Elsom, the Wallaby captain, personifies passion, skill and commitment. His greatness can be measured by the fact that he shaped his brilliance from youthful aggression, which was impaired by ill-discipline. Like the great Wallaby captain, John Eales, Elsom is an inspirational player.
As a leader, he epitomizes a selfless commitment to the cause. If anyone can lead a group of players though to Rugby World Cup victory next year, it is Elsom.
That all-for-one attitude sums up the spirit of the Barbarians, the British invitation side.
The Barbarians match will also feature the return from injury of high-profile Welsh center Gavin Henson, who is making news following the break-up of his relationship with Welsh singer Charlotte Church. They have two children.
Henson is a brilliant player, who upsets both opponents and team-mates.
In another match-up, former Springboks coach, and current Italy coach, Nick Mallet, will coach the Barbarians. So deep in the heart of the match, the contest will be Springboks against Springboks.
That is like pitting the immovable against the unstoppable. That is why Elsom and Giteau are perfect players to invite; they are death-or-glory players. Win or lose, they are always exciting.
Barbarian rugby is the elite-level showcase of running rugby. It is the British expression of the attacking flair of rugby.
In the professional era, with win-loss statistics deciding a coach’s career, that spirit has sometimes been ignored, to the detriment of the Barbarian tradition … and to the detriment of rugby.
After all, it’s an old tradition. The concept of the Barbarians was conceived in an English restaurant in 1890 by W. P. Carpmael. His intention was to have an invitation team that was cosmopolitan and which would foster goodwill.
Meanwhile, Springboks coach Peter de Villiers has survived a hostile, end-of-year review, despite his side coming last in the Tri-Nations. Calls for his sacking have been widespread. However, he has been reappointed for the northern tour, which will include the Barbarians match.
Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Games Sevens competition is about to begin. Five of the top six rugby nations are taking part, with Fiji being excluded after being dismissed from the Commonwealth following a coup in 2006.
There are 16 teams including current World Series champions Samoa, who won the title from New Zealand this year. The exceptional side includes IRB Sevens Player of the Year Mikaele Pesamino, who scored 56 tries this year.
The sides are divided into four pools, featuring leading sides from New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and England. The competition will also feature emerging nations like Sri Lanka, Uganda and Guyana.
Wales has the ability to upset the big teams, famously beating New Zealand on the way to winning the Dubai Sevens last year.
New Zealand were pipped to the World Series title by Samoa this year but they boast a formidable squad, including three All Blacks in Hosea Gear, Zac Guildford and Ben Smith.
Australia beat South Africa to win the London Sevens title at Twickenham in May, and will feature Wallaby Lachie Turner.
South Africa won the IRB Sevens World Series in 2008/2009, but finished a disappointing sixth in the overall standings this year.
Of local interest, Elsom and Giteau are expected to play for the Wallabies in Hong Kong on October 30, when they will play the All Blacks.
Bledisloe Cup Hong Kong Tickets and Hotel Packages are still available.