Sam Warburton knows Chris Robshaw and his fellow Barbarians bad-boys were out of line last week with their Covid-19 rule break and the subsequent attempted cover-up.
But the former Wales and British & Irish Lions captain admits he has a degree of sympathy given the hard-drinking history associated with representing the Baa-baas.
Warburton said: “The Barbarians history is a fantastic thing.
“I didn’t play for them — I was only asked a couple of times and the timing was wrong because it was around World Cups, so I was always going to prioritise Wales.
“I also thought it was a lose-lose situation, because I don’t drink.
“So I either drank, which we all know is what the Barbarians do, they all get merry and have a really good week together, but that’s not me as a player, I can’t prepare for an international game doing it that way.
“I would either have played terribly because I was hung over and then publicly got rinsed by some young up-and-coming seven.
“Or if I’d decided to be professional and play well for the Barbarians, then I’d have come across as a bad guy because I wouldn’t have been buying into the ethos.
“So, I love the Barbarians concept, it should keep going, they are a great team, it’s a good spectacle and a great brand of rugby.
“And I do feel for Chris a bit because that is the Baa-baas, that’s what they are about.
“But obviously there is something going on that’s greater than the game at the moment, which is Covid, so you have to respect that.
“It’s a tough, tough situation to be in.”
Warburton is adamant there won’t be any repeat around the conclusion of the Six Nations or during the autumn internationals.
He added: “The one thing I was taken back by at the end of my time on the Wales coaching staff were the restrictions we had to go through daily.
“The temperature checks every day, the regular testing, all the rules put in place, I was actually really impressed, but at the same time we were able to get the job done.
“So I’m reassured for rugby that everything will go ahead because the players and management staff are so strict, which all the international clubs will be.
“The Barbarians got caught out but that won’t be happening again.
“You can’t deny the rules around Covid are so public and they should’ve been enforced.”
Warburton also wonders if the Barbarians management were to blame for the breach.
He added: “Maybe it’s not Chris’s fault, maybe whoever is in charge didn’t enforce the rules.
“Obviously, as players you all have to take responsibility and the whole team will take responsibility but maybe the rules weren’t enforced because when I walked through the door with Wales — bang — we were told what we can’t do.
“So I guess it’s who enforces the rules at the same time.”
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