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This Saturday, November 1, will witness another in a long-standing series of classic rugby matches of the famous Barbarian XV against Australia at Twickenham. The game again moves the “Baa-Baas” (official nickname) into the limelight in a match known historically as “The Final Challenge,” denoting the last test in the UK for either the touring Wallabies, All Blacks, or Springboks.
History of the Barbarians RFC
In 1890 in London, as the season ended, some enthusiastic ruggers decided to extend play by forming an invitational only all-star XV comprised of players of high moral standing. The motto was: “Rugby Football is a game for gentlemen in all classes, but for no bad sportsman of any class.”
The Barbarians was the name chosen for this elite team where former opponents became teammates in a spirit of good fellowship. Soon, they would capture the attention of fans worldwide, playing with élan, enthusiasm, and panache, and always in the distinct black and white hoops with the intertwined BFC logo on the jersey.
Traditionally the team plays the same six clubs; Penarth, Cardiff, Swansea, and Newport (All Welsh) on an Easter tour, then Leicester, finishing with the Mobbs Memorial Match versus East Midlands.
To date, the “Baa-Baas” stand 43 wins, 38 losses, and three draws in international play. They show deficits against New Zealand (2-7-1) and Australia (3-9), are even with England (7-7) but lead Wales (6-3), South Africa (4-3), Scotland (6-4-1), and Ireland (4-1).
The legendary Irish winger, Tony O’Reilly, had made the most appearances (30) and scored the most tries (38). Other famous names include Bud Rogers, Ron Jacobs, John Spencer, and Phil Bennett. Players are universal, numbering 27 different countries.
One game keeps the Barbarian flame lit brightly, the classic contest against the All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park in 1973, won by the “Baa-Baas” 23-11. This memorable match features the “Try of the Century” (or, “The greatest try ever”) as seen on You Tube. From inside the Barbarians 25-meter line, began a seven player movement that ended with the sprint in for the score by Gareth Edwards. The spontaneous commentary by Cliff Morgan remains as noteworthy as the try itself, ending with the exclamatory, “That really was something.”
Barbarian’s squad for Saturday
Tim Nanai Williams (Chiefs)
Joaquin Tuculet (Grenoble & Argentina)
Patrick Osborne (Highlanders)
Frank Halai (Blues & New Zealand)
Juan de Jongh (Stormers & South Africa)
Nick Cummins (Coca Cola West Red Sparks & Australia)
Francis Saili (Blues & New Zealand)
Colin Slade (Crusaders & New Zealand)
Marnitz Boshoff (Golden Lions & South Africa)
Tomas Cubelli (Belgrano Ath & Argentina)
Sarel Pretorius (Cheetahs)
Fumiaki Tanaka (Highlanders & Japan)
Coenie Oosthuizen (Cheetahs & South Africa)
Matt Stevens (Sharks & England)
Thomas Du Toit (Sharks)
Angus Ta’avao (Blues)
James Parsons (Blues)
Mahonri Schwalger (Chiefs & Samoa)
Michael Rhodes (Stormers)
Matias Alemanno (La Tablada & Argentina)
Dominic Bird (Canterbury & New Zealand)
Al Kellock (Glasgow & Scotland)
Adam Thomson (Canon Eagles & New Zealand)
Matt Todd (Crusaders & New Zealand)
Steven Luatua (Blues & New Zealand)
Heinrich Brussow (Cheetahs & South Africa)
Jacques Botes (Sharks)