Written by T and e, CNN London, France, UK,
After leading Canada to their first ever Rugby World Cup win in 2017, Olivia Russell and Jessica Paquin have been named to Barbarians’ women’s all-star team for this summer’s series in France.
The headliners of the squad — which is aiming to take on an international foe for the first time since a heavy defeat to the Lions in the 2017 Series — the Canadian duo will be joined by some recognizable names.
Falklands War veteran Larry Heddle will be hoping to add the Barbarians’ first ever win to his collection of medals, while Wales’ rugby league legend Steve Prescott will also feature in the side.
Also on the Lions’ panel of celebrity investors are England rugby coach Eddie Jones, Germany Women head coach Bernhard Nineren and Scottish Women’s Rugby head coach Elaine Dawson.
They were selected from six play-off-winning sides after gruelling trials saw around 500 women from across the UK square off in the hopes of joining the exclusive club.
This year’s Series sees the Barbarians’ back-rowers Andy Tuohy and Theresa Beattie named to add a serious player’s edge to the cause.
Nigel Dwyer, the director of rugby for the Barbarians, described the pair as his “dream call up” for this year’s event, which will take place in a specially-constructed, 18,000 capacity stadium in Etampes near St Quentin-en-Yvelines, near Paris, from 14-20 June.
“They’re both world class,” he told CNN. “It’s quite a thing to say to people, but two of the best players on the planet — or close to the top, certainly, with the likes of Williams and Russell — are in one team.”
The Barbarians — traditionally a one-off exhibition tournament — will be backed by ten of the world’s leading companies across banking, energy, technology, engineering and telecommunications.
They will be seeking to emulate the heroics of the men’s team, who during their visit to the UK last year drew large crowds to London’s Twickenham Stadium.
While there’s no “official opposition” this year, the Barbarians match will be broadcast globally on BT Sport.