Eddie Jones downplayed the record 52-21 defeat of the 14-man barbarians, although it led England to the heaviest defeat of his reign.
England suffered their third defeat in a row as Fabien Galty’s high-profile side scored eight tries in the capless cap at Twickenham despite Will Skelton’s 38th-minute send-off for a dangerous challenge.
It was the first time the Barbarians had received a red card, but their battalion of French stars made short work of opposition, who used the match to prepare for a three-leg tour of Australia next month.
“We approached the game with a specific strategy. We wanted to try to play a little differently, expand our capabilities and give young guys the opportunity to show their abilities, especially with the ball, ”said Jones.
“But we lost quite a bit on the breakdown so it’s a good reminder of how much work we have to do before Australia. From this point of view, I am very pleased with what we have done.
“I’m not happy with how we performed. I’m happy with what we tried to do and it’s a great preparation for Australia. But clearly not happy with the result.
“No one is happy with the result, but, again, we look at it in the light of what we are trying to do.
“This is a contextual situation. I know it’s hard for you to understand, but we’re trying to create a new team, play differently, in a style that suits these players, and there will be ups and downs.
“I don’t know if we played a normal game for England what the score would be, but that’s not what we wanted from the game.
“Now we wanted to win the game against the barbarians, don’t get me wrong, but it was preparation for Australia so we tried to play differently and expand the lineup. In some places, we didn’t handle it very well.”
Jones names his Australian squad on Monday morning, and a big question mark hung over Alex Dombrandt, who pulled out late from the Barbarians with a knee injury.
The England manager has said Dombrandt should have seen a specialist but his outlook looks bleak and with Billy Vunipola (concussion) and Sam Simmonds (thigh) out of the picture, a crisis is brewing for number eight.
Jones suggested that Johnny May, Joe Kokanashiga and Johnny Hill had made their way into the touring band after an extended absence due to injuries, and implied that Jack Walker and Tommy Freeman had done enough to get chosen.
“We still have one or two places that we need to look at and we have a number of injury issues that will require all the best medical advice to sort through and see who is available and who is not,” Jones said. .
Former England second-row player George Cruise added to a miserable day for the hosts with three conversions, one of which was a daring heel kick.
Jones had no problem with Cruis taking hits in his last game before retiring.
“It’s about the spirit of rugby and it’s great for the spirit of rugby. George Kruis is a guy who didn’t have much possession of the ball and he had a great farewell. So cool, I love it,” Jones said.
Before the match, the Barbarians formed a number 10 in honor of Welsh legend Phil Bennett, who died a week ago.
“We’ve been watching clips of him all week and it’s clear that the famous 1973 try at Cardiff has been played many times,” assistant coach Sean Edwards said of the man who played 20 times for the Barbarians.
“I was fortunate enough to meet him in Wales on numerous occasions and his humbleness for such a great player was always striking. Biggest respect to his family at this very difficult time.”