Long live the Barbarians
Comment by Tank Lanning – Sport24 editor
London - In London to cover the last two games of the Springbok tour to the UK, it seems I am part of an ever shrinking group of people that not only believe in, but love the Barbarians concept.
In this professional era it seems we are happy (or forced) to let the once legendary traditions of rugby past just to slide into ignominy …
First it was the jar of Vaseline as the cycling short arrived, then it was the prop friendly cotton rugby jersey as players became fitter and Canterbury improved their product, then it was the post match beer with your direct opponent as energy goo and rehydration drinks came into fashion, then it was the traditional tour as Super Rugby and the Tri-Nations arrived, and now it seems the Barbarians might also be on their way out.
Certainly the Boks are happy to send in a young makeshift side rather than a full strength one, and you will definitely be able to buy a ticket at the stadium on Saturday, even though they are less than half the price of tickets to the England game last week.
It used to be the best of the UK players against a touring Southern hemisphere side, but with the IRB enforcing a “Test window” these days and this weekend not falling in that window, it will be more like a best of All Black and Wallaby side against the worst of the Boks …
I understand that players play too much rugby these days, and that this game is a bridge too far in a monumentally long season, but it would be great to find a place for the fixture.
Instead, using the official Barbarian website, a bit of an ode to a fantastic tradition …
The Barbarian concept was conceived by WP Carpmael in 1890 at Leuchters Restaurant in Bradford. His idea was to put together a touring side from all sources to take on a few leading clubs in the land.
Carpmael suggested that the Barbarian Club be absolutely cosmopolitan with the aim of spreading good-fellowship amongst all rugby football players. Membership is by invitation and the only qualifications considered are that the player's football be of a good enough standard and that he should behave himself on and off the field. There is no discrimination whatsoever.
The Barbarian motto, instituted by the Right Reverend W.J. Carey, a former Bishop of Bloemfontein, is: "Rugby Football is a game for gentlemen in all classes, but for no bad sportsman in any class".
The Barbarians have no ground, no clubhouse, no entry fee, no subscription, and the clubs they visit pay their expenses in the main. The jersey has always been black and white with a monogram on the left breast, worn with dark shorts and the player's club socks.
In 1930 a new badge was designed consisting of two shields, one with the Rose, Thistle, Shamrock and Prince of Wales' Feathers, emblems of the Home Countries, and the other the Fern of New Zealand, Springbok of South Africa, and the Waratah of New South Wales (since, at that time, there was no Australian Rugby Union), the shields being surmounted by two lambs, jumping from one shield to the other in pursuit of a rugby ball.
In 1948 the Barbarians were asked by the Home Unions to put a side together to play the Wallabies as a fund raising exercise to enable the Wallabies to return home via Canada. The match proved an outstanding success, both in terms of the rugby on the field, and in achieving its aim. So much so that the Barbarians have since had the honour of playing subsequent International Touring sides at the end of their respective tours of Great Britain.
One of the bigger Barbarian occasions was when they took on the British Lions on their return from New Zealand in 1977. Although losing 23-14, the match generated £100 000 for the Jubilee Trust Fund and produced some sparkling rugby.
I hope this won’t be the last time the Springboks play the Barbarians, but it would not surprise me if it was, sadly …
Baa Baa squad (incomplete):
Backs: James O'Connor (Aus), Joe Rokocoko (NZ), Drew Mitchell (Aus), Adam Ashley-Cooper (Aus), Ma'a Nonu (NZ), Matt Giteau (Aus), Will Genia (Aus).
Forwards: Keven Mealamu (NZ), Stephen Moore (Aus), John Hayes (Ire), Salvatore Perugini (Ita), Neemia Tialata (NZ), Chris Jack (NZ), Tom Donnelly (NZ), Quintin Geldenhuys (Ita), Martyn Williams (Wal), Rodney So'oialo (NZ), Colin Bourke (Chiefs), Daniel Braid (NZ).
Coach: Nick Mallett
Assistant coach: Alan Solomons
Probable Springbok side:
Gio Aplon, Odwa Ndungane, Adi Jacobs, Patrick Lambie, Lwazi Mvovo, Elton Jantjies, Francois Hougaard, Willem Alberts, Juan Smith (captain), Keegan Daniel, Bakkies Botha, Alistair Hargreaves, CJ van der Linde, Adriaan Strauss, Coenie Oosthuizen
Bench: Bandise Maku, Tendai Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis, Flip van der Merwe, Ryan Kankowski, Charl McLeod, Zane Kirchner
Date: Saturday, December 5