Imagine if you will a cold Yorkshire night. Imagine you are settling down to enjoy a nice evening meal and next to you a group of well spoken gentlemen are talking about rugby. Now imagine its 1890 and the most incredible story has just begun. The Barbarians Rugby Club was formed. This week marks 125 years of this club. A club that has no clubhouse, no ground and even no socks! To play for them you must be invited and fit in with their strict motto!
“Rugby Football is a game for gentlemen in all classes, but for no bad sportsman in any class”.
Since its formation by WP Carpmael in the Leuchters Restaurant, Bradford the Baa Baas have toured all over the world playing club sides, full international teams and other manufactured touring sides. The ethos is very simple. Enjoy the game, play hard, play harder. ‘Training’ used to be a bit of an optional extra but the crowd loved the audacity of players running the length of the field, crazy offloads that even Fijian superstars would think better of. Any professional player would love to get the letter inviting you to play. The next big game for the Baa Baas is Ireland at the fortress of Thomond Park in Limerick on the 28th May. Here Irish legends will proudly don their Black and White hooped shirts and of course bring their own socks. Before that they go to Edinburgh at Goldenacre to face Heriots. In a dual celebration of 125 years. Some great names are being called up for what will be a spectacle to behold.
Since 2004 the Barbarians have branched out into a charity. To date they have given donations to growing Rugby Unions like Georgia, Germany and Spain. They are heavily involved with the growth of the youth game in Africa and general requests for help in India, Fiji and Italy. The charity has a board of trustees and as you might imagine its a legendary star studded affair. Gavin Hastings, who has captained every team he has ever played for, and Bill Beaumont England Lock who captained them to the 1980 Grand Slam.
Every Rugby Supporter in the world, a bold statement but one I am sure I can back up, knows of the Baa Baas and that iconic shirt with that badge. My very first Rugby Jersey was a Baa Baa one. I still have it 20 (or so) years later. I have watched them destroyed by England a Twickenham, then watched as they spent an hour walking the pitch, signing autographs, having photos, and letting fans meet some of the biggest names in Rugby. In the modern era Jonah Lomu, Sergio Parisse, John Afoa, Schalk Brits, and Francois Pienaar are only a few samples of this homeless club.
No other sport can boast such a global collaborative effort all designed on one cold night in Bradford 125 years ago, and for the game that boasts that theres a position for everyone, long may their traditions go on.