Barbarians call-off frustrates England's George

Rome (AFP) –


Jamie George said he felt "huge frustration" knowing England's bid to win the Six Nations title with victory away to Italy on Saturday had been hampered by the Barbarians players responsible for having last week's warm-up match called off.

The Rugby Football Union has launched disciplinary proceedings against 13 Barbarians after they breached coronavirus health protocols by going out in central London on successive nights, leading to the cancellation of last Sunday's fixture with England at Twickenham.

That means title contenders England head into the final round of the Covid-delayed Championship without having played for seven months, while the RFU has lost some £1 million in revenue as a result of the game being ditched.

Several of George's Saracens team-mates were among the Barbarians involved, with the England hooker telling a conference call from Rome on Friday: "My personal reaction was of huge frustration. I was gutted.

"It was another chance for us to play for England."

George, who will be winning his 50th England cap at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, added: "I've spoken to a couple of the guys at Saracens who were involved. It was mostly just checking in on them.

"I know they aren't bad people, they have made a pretty big mistake but at the same time they have held their hands up and appreciate they were wrong in what they did.

"They put their hands up and realised they messed up. They are very disappointed in themselves. They have obviously gone out and got things very wrong.

"We're privileged to be in a bubble where everything is very clear and laid out for us. We are very aware of our responsibilities.

"The disciplinary hearing's going to be happening next week and I think they will take full responsibility for their actions."

George made his England debut in 2015 but much of his early international career was spent providing bench cover for the now retired Dylan Hartley.

Since 2018, however, the British and Irish Lions front row has become England's first-choice hooker under Eddie Jones.

"I never thought I'd get to this point," said George.

"To be sat here now on the eve of my 50th cap is very surreal. But it is a great moment."