Friday, 8 June 2012

Barbarian FC - the legendary club

June is a good month for the rugby fans. Test games have already begun, and we will have the chance to see European teams in the clash with Southern Hemisphere giants. In three game series New Zealand will play against Ireland, Australia will host Wales and South Africa England. As a foretaste of excitement, Barbarians tested the level of preparations of the home nations. They lost to England 57:26, defeated Ireland 29:28 and succumbed to Wales 30:21.

It was the game with the Welsh that inspired me to write a few words about one of the most interesting clubs in the history of rugby and sport. The club which has never had its home ground, which squad has been constantly changing, and gained fame and respect by playing and wining with the best teams. The Barbarians – is the team which brings together the most outstanding rugby players. Here are some of the most important facts of its history.

William Percy Carpmael, who played rugby in Cambridge University, established Barbarian FC, also known as the Barbarians, or „Baa-Baas” in 1890. The founder inspired by the incredible atmosphere of the rugby tours decided to create a team composed of top players from different clubs and backgrounds. The chosen ones took short rugby tours testing the best opposition in the regions. Inherit to each tour was the integration of players, great rugby spirit and friendship. Since the beginning of the club, membership was by invitation only. To attain this honour, you had to be not only an outstanding athlete, but also behave in accordance with the ethos off the field. Over the years, the team created many traditions, the most famous are wearing the socks of the home team and selecting at least one uncapped player for every match.

Most appearances (30) and tries (38) for Baa-Baas got Sir Tony O’Reilly – a very talented player, and later a businessman (first billionaire in Ireland). A very important event for the club was a match played against Australia. It attracted 45000 spectators – Barbarians won 9:6. This success was the beginning of the club’s international career. Soon after, other high-profile countries – South Africa and New Zealand accepted the challenge. One of the most famous games in the history is the match with New Zealand on 27 January 1973 (Barbarians won 23:11). Try scored in the early minutes by Gareth Edwards is celebrated as one of the best rugby tries ever.

From my personal point of view, the most interesting game of Baa-Baas was the one on 12 May 2009 at Twickeham, which I had the opportunity to watch live. Very strong All Blacks team was the opposition. The match was very exciting; Bryan Habana scored hat-trick of tries to steal the victory from the mighty rivals. There are, of course, many more amazing games in the Barbarians history, but I will stop on mentioning just these two.

Despite unquestionable sport achievements, Barbarian FC is more than just a club for high standard players. Barbarians identify the values, which that have always been part of rugby such as passion, friendship, brotherhood, respect. Baa-Baas are part of a unique culture which is very rare in other sports. The club excels in the era of professional sport, retaining its unique identity created in the amateur era. William Percy Carpmael’s idea is still alive. Receiving invitation to play in the black and white striped shirt with Barbarian FC crest is still a big honour reserved for the elite. It is an honour, which requires dignified behaviour on the pitch and off it. In these highly commercialized times, when the values and traditions must often give way to the cold marketing calculations, Barbarians’ ethos is priceless. I hope this club will never change its extraordinary character.