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Oh, baby! Wallabies, Barnes will long remember June 16

MONDAY MAUL

The Wallabies celebrate winning the Test. Click for more photos

Wallabies snatch victory over Wales

New Zealand-born Mike Harris kicked a penalty goal after the siren to seal a two-point win over Wales. Photo: Getty Images

At midday on Saturday, an emotionally drained Berrick Barnes was holding his newborn premature baby at the Sydney Children's Hospital in Randwick. Test football was the last thing on his mind.

Ten hours later in Melbourne, Barnes was surrounded by well-wishers - so appreciative of his central role in one of Australian rugby's most important recent Test triumphs.

In between, Barnes was involved in several white-knuckle taxi rides, had a ''quick kip'' on the Sydney-Melbourne flight, weaved his way between several trams on Collins Street to get to the team meeting on time, booted through 17 points, set up the best try in the Test, started hobbling ''like a bullrider'' when his leg cramped up, missed a shot that could have lost the Wallabies the game, was announced the man of the match, and then witnessed from the sideline his replacement Mike Harris finish this most exceptional of days off by kicking the winning penalty. No one, not even master Hollywood scriptwriter William Goldman, could have conjured this.

Big day out … Berrick Barnes had no time to scratch himself.

Big day out … Berrick Barnes had no time to scratch himself. Photo: Getty Images

And even yesterday Barnes was still trying to come to terms with his Academy Award performance for a leading role in the best rugby tear-jerker seen in years.

What a momentous 24 hours. After flying back to Sydney on Friday to attend the birth of his and wife Bec's first child, who had arrived six weeks early, Barnes somehow had to compose himself, get back to Melbourne in time and then be the Wallabies playmaker against the most streetwise of opponents. He had little sleep, his emotions were in the basket-case category, he was even struggling to concentrate on the Test.

But it all came together, enabling the most gregarious of Wallabies to put down June 16, 2012, as the best day of his life. And it inspired all those around him. Rob Horne, his Waratahs teammate and the man Barnes put through for their only try, said there was high excitement when the new father arrived at the team meeting, two hours before kick-off. ''It was a great lift for us. For Berrick to get through what he did and see him so uplifted by the experience, well we fed off that. I feel lucky to be part of his special night because that's something we'll never forget,'' Horne said.

Barnes walked into the team room ''and they were all in there in a big huddle, with the headphones on and music blaring. And I came in with my civvies on. Then I got changed in the corner while Robbie [Deans] started to speak''.

But he was still concerned. ''Bec and I were under the illusion the baby was still several weeks away. Then after the captain's run on Friday, I got a call saying there was a chance we'd go tomorrow, so I rushed home again. Bec was pretty emotional about it all. It was all pretty unexpected and as a first-time mum she was worried. As I was. You don't know what to expect.''

Archie Barnes arrived around midnight, weighing 1.93 kilograms. ''A lot of guys miss their first-born baby because they're at work or at the pub. At least I wasn't one of them. It was so special to be there. I certainly had Archie in my thoughts last night even on the field. It is definitely the best buzz you can have, but you just don't realise how draining it all is … and I didn't even push the baby out.

''During the game I had to rely on the adrenalin rush to get through. I really had doubts when I was coming back to Melbourne. It was all about just not letting anyone down and I was more relieved than anything at the end of the game that I had contributed.'' Bec and Berrick Barnes certainly delivered.

45 comments so far

  • Great game Berrick and congratulations to you and Bec on the safe arrival of your son.

    Commenter
    Jackson, NSW
    Date and time
    June 18, 2012, 12:39AM
    • Grats on being a new dad Berrick ... but

      STOP KICKING THE BALL!!!

      I'm a long suffering Waratahs supported and can't deal with this anymore.

      If I wanted to see a game of forcings back I'd go to an AFL game.

      This is a joke and is why rugby is losing followers.

      What happenned to running rugby??

      Commenter
      Ricardo
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 18, 2012, 11:01AM
  • Not only will the Wallabies remember this game, so will the Wales team and rugby fans who witnessed a great test match. Finally, we have a team that can kick goals reliably, a hooker that can throw a straight lineout ball, a pack that doesn't fold in a scrum. A team with real talent all over the paddock and a great coach, this may be one of Australia's really great teams in rugby history.

    Commenter
    Dave Allen
    Date and time
    June 18, 2012, 5:29AM
    • The ability to kick goals is a talent but the value of 3 points for a penalty is in my opinion ludicrous and only encourages more kicking to further slow the game.

      Commenter
      Hendo
      Location
      randwick
      Date and time
      June 18, 2012, 8:32AM
    • Hendo, that may be true. But how many tests over the years against the All Blacks have we lost because we could not match their accurate goal kickers?

      Commenter
      Dave Allen
      Date and time
      June 18, 2012, 9:19AM
    • Need to show some form against the best in the world before you can call this "one of Australia's really great teams in rugby history". It's still three wins and 12 losses against the All Blacks during Deans' tenure, after being pretty much even for the decade prior to that.

      Commenter
      The Claw
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      June 18, 2012, 9:36AM
    • The Claw, absolutely, they can only be truly measured against the All Blacks, and, if they can win, then Robbie Deans' tenure will be vindicated. As the next world cup approaches. I'm sure his experimentation with selections has always been done with a bigger picture and long term goal in mind. The game on Saturday night was played at a very fast pace again, and handling was good. I think the All Blacks finally will face a stern test.

      Commenter
      Dave Allen
      Date and time
      June 18, 2012, 10:10AM
    • Dave Allen..........are you THE Dave Allen..... the comedian?
      This team is still a marshmallow and when they face off to Ab's SAf And Pumas then I will take notice
      Two minutes to go Wales did not have the nous to hold ball for a measly 2 minutes! Any S15 team would have closed that game out...........having said that the wobblies deserved to win a low quality game (two in a row........what a winning streak)

      Commenter
      heading off
      Location
      Guatavita
      Date and time
      June 18, 2012, 1:32PM
    • Dave this team is still a very long way from great, and just as all the Wallaby and Aussie rugby Doom Prophets need to be put back in their boxes after the odd poor performances against lower ranked opponents, so too we need to be careful about premature OTT euphoric conclusions just because a few well-earned tight results go our way.

      Yes, in the past two weeks Barnes and Genia have played with the ability we know they possess and Pocock has demonstrated that his passage from apprentice to master is probably complete (cue predictable Kiwi backlash...). But cries of greatness are still a long way off and the boys need to keep their feet on the ground.

      The current midfield is pedestrian at best. No comparison can be made with the Horans, Littles and Mortlocks of the past. Vuna is a massive defensive liability and surely a 5th choice at best among the current crop; he certainly cannot be held in the company of the Campeses, Tunes and Roffs. Upfront, Palu, Robinson and TPN can't seem to last more than 50mins at the highest level and Robinson, while a tremendous asset in the scrum, is a passenger in general play (watch him closely this week and you will see he is the last man to every breakdown, arriving just in time to lean on the back of the ruck to take another breather...) And while Kepu looked to have come of age at tighthead in the 1st test, he and Alexander were well bested by Jenkins and Jones this week...

      No, there's still plenty to work on here. Great is a long way off...

      Commenter
      Capt Footlong
      Date and time
      June 18, 2012, 10:03PM
  • Let all those who have rubbished master playmaker Barnes hang their heads in shame.

    Commenter
    mick-e
    Date and time
    June 18, 2012, 6:02AM

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