Only Mark Regan remained of the squad which lifted the Webb Ellis Trophy last November as Woodward found his selectorial options drastically reduced by the weekend’s Zurich Premiership finals and next month’s tour Down Under.
The England boss had hoped today’s contest would indicate which players on the fringes of international recognition could eventually fills the shoes of Lawrence Dallaglio and co but he will have been left bitterly disappointed.
Facing a Barbarians side which numbered 688 caps in its starting line-up, England found themselves hopelessly outclassed by their opponents’ invention and superiority in the forward exchanges.
They showed a marked improvement in the third quarter when they finally began to create gaps but only the kicking of Dave Walder kept them in touch with the Newcastle fly-half booting four penalties.
The Barbarians scored two tries in the opening 10 minutes through Jason Leonard and Shane Horgan as they tore into their inexperienced opponents from the start.
Leonard’s try was particularly well received by the near sell-out crowd with the man of the match making his Twickenham farewell.
Bruce Reihana, Bobby Skinstad and Malcolm O’Kelly completed the Barbarians’ try count with Skinstad’s touchdown arriving in a second-half which was short on entertainment as the worsening weather conditions took their toll.
Woodward’s half-time team talk had obviously done the trick as England attacked their opponents with far greater gusto after the interval, although they were still being hampered by their shortcomings in the lineout.
: Pens: Walder 4.
: Horak, Sackey, Noon, Sorrell, Garvey, Walder, Walshe, M. Worsley, Regan, Morris, Cornwell, Brown, Hyde, Hazell, Vyvyan. Replacements: Scarbrough for Sackey (49), J. Dawson for Morris (40), Buxton for Hazell (72).
: Tries: Leonard, Horgan, Reihana, Skinstad, O’Kelly. Cons: Humphreys 2. Pens: Humphreys.
: Castaignede, Horgan, O’Driscoll, Grey, Reihana, Humphreys, Robinson, Leonard, Oliver, Visagie, O’Kelly, Andrews, Finegan, Vos, Randell. Replacements: Burke for Castaignede (40), Traille for Horgan (74), N. de Kock for Robinson (67), Feek for Leonard (67), Sexton for Oliver (71), Magne for Vos (51), Skinstad for Randell (40).
: N Whitehouse (WRFU).