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The Barbarians

Carl Mullen signs rugby ball for small boy


The Barbarians were conceived in 1890 at an Oyster bar in Bradford when William Percy Carpmael (1853-1936), a Cambridge & Blackheath forward of some note, was touring Yorkshire and the midlands with a scratch side. Attending were Sammy Woods, Emile de Lissa, Jock Wemyss, Percy Coles and WJ Carey.

oyster bar

Leuchters Restaurant, Alexandra Hotel, Bradford

Carey toured South Africa in 1896 and later became the Anglican Bishop of Bloemfontein. He gave the Barbarians their motto:

"Rugby Football is a game for gentlemen in all classes, but for no bad sportsman in any class". - W.J. Carey

They were having so much fun on and off the field that they decided to form a club and he became the founder and first president of the club. His belief was that Rugby should be an attacking game and that the Barbarians must always exhibit a style which demonstrated a commitment to hard, clean, attacking Rugby. The club has become famous all over the world and is held in high esteem by all.

William Percy Carpmael (1853-1936)

The first meeting

The first formal meeting of the club was on October 1st, 1890 at 24 Southampton buildings, Chancery lane, London. They decided upon a motto for the club which was "Rugby football is a game for gentlemen in all classes, but never for a bad sportsman in any class" - formulated by the right Reverend W. J. Carvey. This ensured that the Barbarians did not discriminate upon class, race, creed or color and the only qualification to be a member was that you were a good rugby player and a good sportsman.

The membership was originally limited to sixty five and by invitation only. They had no official headquarters or clubhouse and did all work via post including player selection, although the Espanade Hotel in Penarth became their unofficial HQ since they met their annually during their tour of South Wales which took place in Easter.

The original uniform was a white shirt with the monogram B.F.C. over the left breast, dark shorts and socks. It also had a skull and crossbones over the letters but this was later removed. Their now famous uniforms, black and white hooped jerseys, with the overlapping B.F.C. were not adopted until 1891.

Barbarians team that played Huddersfield, December 1891

Of the original Barbarians, six were from Oxford and Fifteen Cambridge so it is not surprising that a Barbarian's tie was introduced in 1895, consisting of dark and light blue stripes with a thin white line between. This design was given to the club by Frank Mitchell who had used it for a cricket team he had taken on tour in the USA.

Original members of the Barbarians, 1890–1891

  • O – Oxford University player, C – Cambridge University player
Surname First Names Uni. International
Alderson Frederic C
Allport Alfred  
Anderson Darsie  
Aston Randolph C
Bromet Edward C
Budworth Richard O
Carpmael William Percy C  
Chaldecott R.F.    
Christopherson Percy O
Clauss Paul Robert O
Coles Percival O  
Cousins F.C. O  
Duckworth Feltrim Edward C  
Emley E.    
Evans David William O
Sweet-Escott Ralph C
Evershed Frank  
Fox Francis Hugh  
Goodhue Frederick C
Hancock Froude  
Hickson L.    
Hooper Charles C
Hubbard George  
Ingledew Hugh  
Johnston A.S.    
Lane R.O.B. O  
Leake William C
MacGregor Gregor C
McNiven H.    
Mansfield W.H.    
Marshall Howard  
Maud Philip  
Mayne Walter Nathaniel C  
Mitchell William Grant C
Morrison Piercy C
North Eustace O
Nicholl Charles C
Percival Launcelot O
Rogers John  
Scott Mason C
Scott William Martin C
Senior E.W.    
Storey Thomas C  
Stoddart Andrew  
Surtees Aubone C
Vernon C.J.    
Whittaker Thomas Sherren  
Wood Sammy C
Yiend William  

The Baa-Baas

In 1925 they introduced a blazer which was dark blue with gilt buttons and a pocket badge of two lambs gamboling with a rugby ball. Although it should not need explaining the two lambs were a play on the word Barbarian which starts with 'Bar' and 'Bar', hence the two sheep. The club has affectionately been called 'the Baa-Baas' ever since.

Baa-baa team vs. Swansea 1901


In 1929 a club member, I.M.B. Stuart designed a club emblem consisting of two shields. One had the emblems of the home nations on it and the other, emblems from the commonwealth. The gamboling lambs were kept and were depicted jumping between the shield chasing after a rugby ball.


As a result of many scintillating performances, the Barbarians won respect worldwide and on January 31st 1948 they were invited to play the Australian Wallabies at Cardiff Arms Park in the final match of their tour. The plan was originated to help pay for the Aussies to return home via Canada and it was a huge success. The battle captured the imagination of millions and drew a capacity crowd of 45,000. The baa-baas won 9 - 6. So successful was the fixture that it became tradition for Australia, New Zealand or South Africa - whichever was touring the UK - to tackle the Barbarians in 'The Final Challenge.' This exciting event took place every three years, producing a hugh number of titanic battles. They played South Africa for the first time in 1952, losing 12-3, and New Zealand in 1954, losing 19-5.

The Baa-Baas repeated their 1948 success over the Wallabies with an 11-6 win at Cardiff in 1958 (the Arms Park hosted every game between the two sides until 1992), before the Australians got their revenge in '67 - a 17-11 win.

The most famous try ever scored

gareth edwards
One of the most famous tries ever scored was Gareth Edwards for the baa-baas vs. the All Blacks in 1973. See the video

The baa-baas were extended the great honour of playing against the British Lions on their return from New Zealand in 1977. Although losing by 23-14, the match produced £100,000 for the Jubilee Trust Fund (which was the largest individual contribution to that Fund), and also some sternly contested and sparkling rugby.

David Duckham
David Duckham probably the finest English back during the 70s.


The club marked its centenary in 1990 with a number of special matches and entered a new era by signing a sponsorship agreement with Scottish Amicable, an association that continued for 12 years.

The Centenary Dinner was held in London, prior to a match against England at Twickenham, and brought together nearly 700 old Baa-Baas from around the world to meet old friends and discuss the game of rugby football. The following Saturday they met Wales at Cardiff Arms Park - scene of so many great moments for the Barbarian club - and a match for which Wales awarded caps - a signal honour to the Barbarians.

Each of the traditional fixtures, against Newport, Leicester, the East Midlands, Cardiff and Swansea, had a special atmosphere that season and the club included a return to its founding city for a match against Bradford. The celebrations were only brought to a close with a 16-all draw against Scotland at Murrayfield in September 1991, with the match being preceded the night before by a special Centenary dinner for all the Scottish Barbarians who had provided so many players for the club over the years.

Squad in no programme number order: Federica Pucciariello, John Smit (c), Census Johnson, Bakkies Botha, Johann Muller, Jeyy Collins, Richie Mccaw, Schalk Burger, Fourie Du Preez, Francois Steyn, Bryan Habana, Jean De Villiers, Rico Gear, Joe Rokocoko, Percy Montgomery, Mark Regan, Rodney Blake, Chris Jack, Nick Koster, George Gregan, Ollie Smith, Shane Williams.

In 2008 the Barbarians were invited to play Australia to help celebrate the centenary of the first London Olympics where Australia beat a Great Britain side 32 to 3. The match took place on December 3rd at Wembley stadium. In a change to the tradition of the Barbarians players wearing their own club socks, in this game, they all wore the Duchy of Cornwall's black and gold socks. The break with the tradition was highly regarded by the secretary of the Cornwall Rugby Football Union, Alan Mitchell, who was said to have been humbled by the honour.

"It's great that the Baa-Baas are breaking tradition, it's a very strong gesture by them. We've sent up 30 pairs for the guys so we look forward to seeing the black and gold on their socks!"

"There is about 14 of us going up in total, so we're really looking forward to it. We've been in contact with the Barbarians since the Remembrance Day game in Plymouth last month and they're really looking forward to it like us."

- Cornwall Rugby Football Union secretary Alan Mitchell

A regular on the Barbarians calendar is the summer tour, in 2011 president Micky Steele-Bodger and his colleagues accepted an invitation during the Cardiff stage of the tour to train at the Athletic Ground, home of Penarth RFC and for 85 years from 1901, the venue for the first of the four-match Easter Tour of Wales.

The now demolished Esplanade Hotel, photographed in 1970 and seen here just on the other side of the Penarth swimming pool and baths. "The Esp", as it was known, was the spiritual home and headquarters of the Barbarians Football Club for over 75 years
Picture Courtesy of Ben Salter

The 2011 squad and committee were warmly welcomed by Mike Gooding, chairman of Penarth, and a couple of hundred local fans and schoolchildren on half-term holiday. The players entered into the spirit of the occasion, signing autographs and posing for photographs that will leave a lasting feel of goodwill between the two historic clubs.

En route to the ground, the party stopped off at Penarth Pier, a spin pass across the road from the site of the former Esplanade Hotel, long gone but forever remembered as the home of the Barbarians whenever they were in Wales. On the pier, another Barbarian legend of yesteryear, Gareth Edwards, presented Micky Steele-Bodger and tour captain Sergio Parisse with the IRB's Hall of Fame induction cap.

"Everyone who is invited to play for the Barbarians is aware of the Club's history and its ideals. It is especially pleasing that the IRB has recognised the role of Percy Carpmael in the founding of the Barbarians 120 years ago."

- Barbarians' chairman John Spencer

Today, international rugby is a professional sport and the Barbarians have also turned professional, i.e. they generate revenue and pay high profile players to play for them (the costs incurred by the Barbarians in assembling a squad for each game or tour are paid out of the gate receipts from the match, or matches, played) but they remain true to the attractive style of Rugby envisaged by their founders.

The traditional long international tours have effectively disappeared from the game so it is a testiment to the legacy of the Barbarians that international sides continue to play Barbarian fixtures and they still draw hugh crowds to this day.

Results Against International Sides

Many of the following have been memorable games, but to mention a few:

  • the 1961 defeat of the Springboks by 6-0, the only side to defeat them, with Haydn Mainwaring's magnificent tackling in mind
  • the 1973 match versus New Zealand, won by 23-11, which surely rates as the greatest performance ever by a Barbarian team
  • the spectacular rugby seen in two matches against Australia in 1984 and 1988
  • and the defeat of South Africa at Lansdowne Road in December 1994 by 23-15

In more recent times

  • the Barbarians beat newly crowned Rugby World Cup champions South Africa at Twickenham in 2007
  • hosted Australia in an historic London Olympic Centenary match at the new Wembley Stadium in 2008 and, in 2009
  • beat New Zealand again in an enthralling encounter at Twickenham
Australia Barbarians Result Venue/Date
6 9 W Cardiff, 31-01-48
6 11 W Cardiff, 22-02-58
17 11 L Cardiff, 28-01-67
7 19 W Cardiff, 24-01-76
37 30 L Cardiff, 15-12-84
40 22 L Cardiff, 26-12-88
30 20 L Twickenham, 28-11-92
39 12 L Twickenham, 07-12-96
49 35 L Cardiff, 28-11-01
18 11 L Wembley, 03-12-08
55 7 L Sydney, 06-06-09
60 11 L Twickenham, 26-11-11
Ireland Barbarians Result Venue/Date
38 70 W Dublin, 1996
30 31 W Dublin, 2000
39 10 L Gloucester, 27-05-08
23 29 W Limerick, 04-06-10
28 29 W Kingsholm, 29-05-12
Lions Barbarians Result Venue/Date
23 14 L Twickenham, 1977
59 8 L Hong Kong, 01-06-13
England Barbarians Result Venue/Date
18 16 L Twickenham, 1990
29 43 W Twickenham, 27-05-01
53 29 L Twickenham, 26-05-02
36 49 W Twickenham, 25-05-03
12 32 W Twickenham, 30-05-04
39 53 W Twickenham, 28-05-05
46 19 L Twickenham, 28-05-06
17 14 L Twickenham, 01-06-08
26 33 W Twickenham, 30-05-09
35 26 L Twickenham, 30-05-10
32 38 W Twickenham, 29-05-11
57 26 L Twickenham, 27-05-12
New Zealand Barbarians Result Venue/Date
19 5 L Cardiff, 20-02-54
36 3 L Cardiff, 15-02-64
11 6 L Twickenham, 16-12-67
11 23 W Cardiff, 27-01-73
13 13 D Twickenham, 30-11-74
18 16 L Cardiff, 16-27-78
21 10 L Twickenham, 25-11-89
25 12 L Cardiff, 04-12-93
47 19 L Twickenham, 04-12-04
18 25 W Twickenham, 05-12-09
Scotland Barbarians Result Venue/Date
17 33 W Murrayfield, 1970
13 26 W Murrayfield, 1983
45 48 W Murrayfield, 1996
42 45 W Murrayfield, 2000
31 74 W Murrayfield, 24-05-01
27 47 W Murrayfield, 01-06-02
15 24 W Murrayfield, 28-05-03
33 40 W Murrayfield, 22-05-04
38 7 L Aberdeen, 24--5-05
66 19 L Murrayfield, 31-05-06
South Africa Barbarians Result Venue/Date
17 3 L Cardiff, 26-01-52
0 6 W Cardiff, 04-02-61
21 12 L Twickenham, 31-01-70
15 23 W Dublin, 03-12-94
41 31 L Cardiff, 10-12-00
5 22 W Twickenham, 01-12-07
20 26 W Twickenham, 04-12-10
Wales Barbarians Result Venue/Date
10 26 W Cardiff,1915
24 31 W Cardiff,1990
31 10 L Cardiff,1996
38 40 W Cardiff, 20-05-01
25 40 W Cardiff, 29-05-02
35 48 W Cardiff, 31-05-03
42 0 L Bristol, 26-05-04
28 31 W Cardiff, 04-06-11
Others Barbarians Result Venue/Date
Canada 3 3 D Gosforth, 1962
Rhodesia 21 24 W Salisbury, 1969
Fiji 29 9 L Gosforth, 1970
Canada 4 29 W Toronto, 1976
Italy 15 23 W Rome, 1985
Argentina 22 34 W Cardiff, 1990
CIS(Russia) 27 23 L Moscow, 1992
Zimbabwe 23 21 L Harare, 1994
Germany 19 47 W Hannover, 12-08-00
Portugal 34 66 W Lisbon, 10-06-04
Georgia 19 28 W Tbillsi, 04-06-06
Tunisia 10 33 W Tunis, 19-05-07
Spain 26 52 W Elche, 23-05-07
Belgium 10 84 W Brussels, 24-05-08

The Presidents

There have only been six Presidents in the history of the Barbarians, an office first instituted in 1913 and naturally occupied by W.P. Carpmael, the founder.

W.P. Carpmael 1913-1936 Percy Carpmael was a founding member of the Barbarian Football Club in 1890 and over the course of the next decade captained the Club in 18 of his 20 matches. He served as secretary and treasurer until 1913 when he became the first Barbarian president, a position he was to hold for another 23 years. A Cambridge Blue in the 1885 Varsity Match, Carpmael was also a member of the Blackheath club.
Emile de Lissa 1936-1955  
Jack "Haigho" Smith 1955  
Brigadier Glyn Hughes 1955-1973 Brigadier Hugh Llewellyn Glyn Hughes, president of the Barbarian Football Club 1955-73, was a man of many parts. Born in South Africa, raised in Swansea, he became a distinguished soldier and physician - and synonymous with the Barbarians from his playing debut in 1913 until his death in 1973.
He played 20 games for the Club, all remarkably on Easter tours of south Wales between 1913 and 1926, captaining the side on four occasions. He was a hooker, most notably for his local club at Blackheath. He was also a first-class referee and went as assistant manager of the 1936 British tour to Argentina. He joined the Barbarian committee as honorary treasurer in 1928 and the culmination of his work was as president when he succeeded Jack Haigh Smith in 1973. He led the Barbarians on their first overseas tours to Canada in 1957 and South Africa in 1958 and 1969.
Herbert Waddell 1973-1988 Herbert Waddell was president of the Barbarian Football Club from 1973-1988, the culmination of over six decades of service as player and administrator.
In his playing days he was a fly-half for Scotland and the British Isles, most notably in 1925 as a key member of the triumphant Calcutta Cup, Triple Crown and Grand Slam campaign. He had already toured South Africa with the 1924 Lions and played in 15 matches, including three tests. He played nine times for the Barbarians between 1924-29.
There followed an equally distinguished administrative career in the game, a committeman, selector and president of the Scottish Rugby Union, delegate to the International Rugby Board, president of Glasgow Academicals and honorary vice-president of the South African Rugby Board. He was also on the committee of the Barbarians from 1926 and succeeded H L Glyn Hughes as president in 1973.
Following his death in 1988 the Club played a Memorial Match against Glasgow Academicals.
His son Gordon also played at fly-half for the Barbarians, Scotland and the British Isles.
Micky Steele-Bodger 1988- As a player and administrator Micky Steele-Bodger has an unparalleled record of service to the Barbarian Football Club. He played the first of his 13 games as an uncapped 20-year-old wing forward in February 1946. A year later he played in England's first official post-war international and stayed in the side for two complete seasons and nine caps before a serious knee injury finished his playing career. Meanwhile he had captained the Club twice and scored the first try in the Barbarians' historic and inaugural match against Australia at Cardiff Arms Park on 31 January 1948. He had also joined the committee in 1946 and went on to become honorary secretary before succeeding Herbert Waddell as Club president in 1988. He has also been an England selector (1953-68), tour manager, RFU president (1973-74) and chairman of the International Rugby Board.


The Barbarian ethos has spread far and wide and other countries have also started their own versions such as South African Barbarians, French Barbarians, New Zealand Barbarians, Australian Barbarians, Irish Wolfhounds, Fiji Barbarians, South Pacific Barbarians, Quagge Barbarians (Transvaal), Cantabrians (Canterbury), Captain Crawshay's Welsh XV etc.


1. Barbarians RFC website


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