|Full name||Barbarian Football Club|
|Most appearances||Tony O'Reilly (30)|
|Top scorer||Tony O'Reilly (38 tries)|
|Hartlepool Rovers 4–9 Barbarians|
(27 December 1890)
|Belgium 10–84 Barbarians|
(24 May 2008)
|England XV 73–12 Barbarians |
(31 May 2015)
The Barbarian Football Club, known as the Barbarians, is a British-based invitational rugby union club. The Barbarians play in black and white hoops, though players wear socks from their own club strip. Membership is by invitation. As of 2011, players from 31 countries had played for them. Traditionally at least one uncapped player is selected for each match.
Until rugby union became a professional sport, the Barbarians usually played six annual matches: with Penarth, Cardiff, Swansea and Newport at Easter; a game with Leicester on 27 December and the Mobbs Memorial Match against East Midlands in the spring. In 1948, the Barbarians were invited to face Australia as part of the Wallabies' tour of Britain, Ireland and France. Although initially designed as a fundraiser towards the end of the tour, the encounter became a popular and traditional fixture. Initially played every three years, it has become more frequent in the professional era, with the Barbarians now often playing one of the national teams visiting Britain each autumn.
On 29 May 2011, at halftime in the Barbarians' match against England at Twickenham, the Barbarians and their founder William Percy Carpmael were honoured with induction to the IRB Hall of Fame. A women's team was established in 2017.
Many rugby clubs around the world are based on the Barbarians model of an invitational scratch team, including the French Barbarians, Australian Barbarians, New Zealand Barbarians and South African Barbarians.
The Barbarian Club was formed by William Percy Carpmael, who had played rugby for Cambridge University, and had been part of the Cambridge team which had undertaken a tour of Yorkshire in 1884. Inspired by the culture behind short rugby tours he organised his first tour in 1889 with Clapham Rovers, which was followed by an 1890 tour with an invitational team calling themselves the Southern Nomads. At the time practically every club ceased playing in early March and there were no tours and players just 'packed up' until the following season. In 1890 he took the Southern Nomads – mainly composed of players from Blackheath – on a tour of some northern counties of England.
His idea – collecting a touring side from all sources to tackle a few leading clubs in the land – received strong support from leading players, particularly ex-university players. On 8 April 1890, in Leuchters Restaurant and later at the Alexandra Hotel in Bradford, the concept of the Barbarians was agreed upon. The team toured later that year and beat Hartlepool Rovers 9–4 on 27 December in their first fixture.
The team was given the motto by Walter Julius Carey, former Bishop of Bloemfontein and a former member of the Barbarians:
Rugby Football is a game for gentlemen in all classes, but for no bad sportsman in any class
The concept took hold over the years and the nearest thing to a club home came to be the Esplanade Hotel at Penarth in South Wales, where the Barbarians always stayed on their Easter tours of Wales. The annual Good Friday game against the Barbarians was the highlight of the Penarth club's year and was always attended by enthusiastic capacity crowds. This fixture marked the start of the Baa-Baas' annual South Wales tour from their "spiritual home" of Penarth, which also included playing Cardiff RFC on the Saturday, Swansea RFC on Easter Monday and Newport RFC on the Tuesday.
The non-match day of Easter Sunday would always see the Barbarians playing golf at the Glamorganshire Golf Club, in Penarth, while the former Esplanade Hotel, which was located on the seafront at Penarth, would host the gala party for the trip, sponsored by Penarth RFC. The first match took place in 1901, and over the next 75 encounters, Penarth won eleven games, drew four and lost 60. Between 1920 and the first Athletics Field game in 1925, the Good Friday games were hosted on Penarth County Grammar School's sports field.
The final Penarth v Barbarians game was played in 1986, by which time the Penarth club had slipped from its prominent position in Welsh rugby. However, a special commemorative game, recognising the 100 years since the first Good Friday match, took place in 2001 and was played at the Athletic Field next to the Penarth clubhouse the day before the Barbarians played Wales at the Millennium Stadium. Gary Teichmann, captain of South Africa and the Barbarians, unveiled a plaque at the clubhouse to mark the event.
After the Second World War, in 1948, the Barbarians were asked by the British and Irish unions to raise a side to play the touring Australia team, to raise funds for the Australians' journey home via Canada. This started the tradition of the "Final Challenge" – played as the last match in a tour of Britain and Ireland by Australia, New Zealand or South Africa.
Main article: The greatest try ever scored
The Barbarian 'Final Challenge' match with the All Blacks at Cardiff Arms Park on 27 January 1973 is celebrated as one of the best games of rugby union ever played. It was a game of attack and counterattack, and the Barbarians won the match 23–11, handing the All Blacks their fourth defeat of the tour. Gareth Edwards scored a try widely considered to be one of the best ever in rugby union.
Cliff Morgan described Gareth Edwards' try:
Kirkpatrick to Williams. This is great stuff! Phil Bennett covering chased by Alistair Scown. Brilliant, oh, that's brilliant! John Williams, Bryan Williams. Pullin. John Dawes, great dummy. To David, Tom David, the half-way line! Brilliant by Quinnell! This is Gareth Edwards! A dramatic start! What a score!!.....Oh that fellow Edwards....If the greatest writer of the written word would've written that story no one would have believed it. That really was something.
Gareth Edwards said of the match:
People tend only to remember the first four minutes of the game because of the try, but what they forgot is the great deal of good rugby played afterwards, much of which came from the All Blacks. For us after the success of the 1971 British Lions tour, which captured the imagination of the whole country, it was an opportunity to bring a lot of that side together again.
The nature of the Barbarians as a touring side made for a diverse fixture list, but at a number of points in the club's history they have settled for a time into a regular pattern. Most of these regular matches have fallen by the wayside, whilst others continue to the present day:
They typically compete against teams from the home nations (England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland) as well as other international sides. Other matches are played against club teams, often to celebrate anniversaries. The 2014–15 fixture list included matches against Leicester Tigers and Heriot's Rugby Club in addition to the Final Challenge game with Australia and the annual Combined Services match. The Heriot's game celebrated the 125th anniversary of both that club and the Barbarians, while the Leicester game was also part of the Barbarians' 125th anniversary schedule. The Barbarians were also invited to play in the first ever Rugby match at the London Olympic Stadium in 2015 against Samoa.
Australia was approached by the British Olympic Association to play the Barbarians at Wembley Stadium on 3 December 2008. The match formed part of the BOA's programme of events to celebrate the centenary of the first London Olympic Games where Australia defeated a Great Britain (Cornwall) side in the final 32–3. In 1908 France were the defending Olympic champions, but when they withdrew from the event, leaving just Australia and Great Britain to contest the gold medal, it was then County champions Cornwall who took to the field to represent the host nation. Cornwall had already been defeated in Australia's earlier 31-match tour. Cornwall's 1908 contribution was also further recognised by the presentation of the Cornwall Cup to the winning 2008 captain at Wembley, with the players of the respective sides receiving gold or silver commemorative medals. The 2008 game was the first rugby union fixture to take place in the new Wembley Stadium. Australia went on to win 18 points to 11.
In a change to the tradition of the Barbarians players wearing their own club socks, in this game, they all wore 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.
In October 2017 a women's team was announced for the first time in the club's history. Their first match was a 19–0 victory against Munster on 10 November 2017, played as part of a double header with the men's team playing Tonga. They subsequently played a match against the British Army in March 2018, winning 37–0.
Their first-ever match against international competition saw six tries scored in a 34–33 victory against the USA at Infinity Park in the Denver suburb of Glendale, Colorado. On 2 June 2019, Barbarians Women took on England at Twickenham as the prelude to a men's Barbarians match against an England XV (non-cap match) losing the contest 40–14 (two tries scored to six conceded). They went on to beat Wales at the Principality Stadium 43–33 on 30 November 2019 scoring 5 tries to 3 conceded.
The Barbarian F.C. have played men's international matches since 1915 and women's international matches since 2019.
View of the stadium during the match v South Africa, 2007
Barbarians v South Africa in 2007
Barbarians v Australia in 2011
Barbarians v England in 2013
|Men||Wales||26||10||Won||17 April 1915||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Tour match|
To raise 'patriotic funds'
|Men||Australia||9||6||Won||31 January 1948||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||South Africa||3||17||Lost||26 January 1952||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||New Zealand||5||19||Lost||20 February 1954||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||Australia||11||6||Won||22 February 1958||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||East Africa||52||12||Won||28 May 1958||RFUEA Ground||Nairobi||Tour match|
|Men||South Africa||6||0||Won||4 February 1961||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||Canada||3||3||Draw||17 November 1962||Gosforth Greyhound Stadium||Gosforth||Tour match|
|Men||New Zealand||3||36||Lost||15 February 1964||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||Australia||11||17||Lost||28 January 1967||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||New Zealand||6||11||Lost||16 December 1967||Twickenham||London||Final Challenge|
|Men||Rhodesia||24||21||Won||26 May 1969||Police Grounds||Salisbury||Tour match|
|Men||South Africa||12||21||Lost||31 January 1970||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Scotland||33||17||Won||9 May 1970||Murrayfield||Edinburgh||Tour match|
In aid of 1970 British Commonwealth Games
|Men||Fiji||9||29||Lost||24 October 1970||Gosforth Greyhound Stadium||Gosforth||Final Challenge|
|Men||New Zealand||23||11||Won||27 January 1973||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||New Zealand||13||13||Draw||30 November 1974||Twickenham||London||Final Challenge|
|Men||Australia||19||7||Won||24 January 1976||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||Canada||29||4||Won||12 June 1976||York Stadium||Toronto||Tour match|
|Men||British Lions||14||23||Lost||10 September 1977||Twickenham||London||Silver Jubilee Match|
|Men||New Zealand||16||18||Lost||16 December 1978||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||Scotland||26||13||Won||26 March 1983||Murrayfield||Edinburgh||Tour match|
|Men||Australia||30||37||Lost||15 December 1984||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||Italy||23||15||Won||26 May 1985||Stadio Flaminio||Rome||Tour match|
|Men||Australia||22||40||Lost||26 November 1988||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||New Zealand||10||21||Lost||25 November 1989||Twickenham||London||Final Challenge|
|Men||England||16||18||Lost||29 September 1990||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Wales||31||24||Won||6 October 1990||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Tour match|
|Men||Argentina||34||22||Won||17 November 1990||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||Scotland||16||16||Draw||7 September 1991||Murrayfield||Edinburgh||Tour match|
|Men||Russia||23||27||Lost||6 June 1992||Lokomotiv||Moscow||Tour match|
|Men||Australia||20||30||Lost||28 November 1992||Twickenham||London||Final Challenge|
|Men||New Zealand||12||25||Lost||4 December 1993||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||Zimbabwe||21||23||Lost||4 June 1994||Police Grounds||Harare||Tour match|
|Men||South Africa||23||15||Won||3 December 1994||Lansdowne Road||Dublin||Final Challenge|
|Men||Ireland||70||38||Won||19 May 1996||Lansdowne Road||Dublin||Tour match|
|Men||Scotland||48||45||Won||17 August 1996||Murrayfield||Edinburgh||Tour match|
Dunblane Disaster Fund Match
|Men||Wales||10||31||Lost||24 August 1996||Cardiff Arms Park||Cardiff||Tour match|
Fully capped match for Wales
|Men||Australia||12||39||Lost||7 December 1996||Twickenham||London||Final Challenge|
|Men||Ireland||31||30||Won||28 May 2000||Lansdowne Road||Dublin||Tour match|
|Men||Scotland||45||42||Won||31 May 2000||Murrayfield||Edinburgh||Tour match|
|Men||Germany||47||19||Won||12 August 2000||Eilenriedestadion||Hanover||Tour match|
German Rugby Federation Centenary Match
|Men||South Africa||31||41||Lost||10 December 2000||Millennium Stadium||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||Wales||40||38||Won||20 May 2001||Millennium Stadium||Cardiff||Tour match|
|Men||Scotland||74||31||Won||24 May 2001||Murrayfield||Edinburgh||Tour match|
|Men||England||43||29||Won||27 May 2001||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Australia||35||49||Lost||28 November 2001||Millennium Stadium||Cardiff||Final Challenge|
|Men||England||29||53||Lost||26 May 2002||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Wales||40||25||Won||29 May 2002||Millennium Stadium||Cardiff||Tour match|
|Men||Scotland||47||27||Won||1 June 2002||Murrayfield||Edinburgh||Tour match|
|Men||England||49||36||Won||25 May 2003||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Scotland||24||15||Won||28 May 2003||Murrayfield||Edinburgh||Tour match|
|Men||Wales||48||35||Won||1 June 2003||Millennium Stadium||Cardiff||Tour match|
|Men||Scotland||40||33||Won||22 May 2004||Murrayfield||Edinburgh||Tour match|
|Men||Wales||0||42||Lost||27 May 2004||Ashton Gate||Bristol||Tour match|
|Men||England||32||12||Won||30 May 2004||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Portugal||66||34||Won||10 June 2004||Universitário Lisboa||Lisbon||Tour match|
|Men||New Zealand||19||47||Lost||4 December 2004||Twickenham||London||Final Challenge|
|Men||Scotland||7||38||Lost||24 May 2005||Pittodrie||Aberdeen||Tour match|
|Men||England||52||39||Won||28 May 2005||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||England||19||46||Lost||28 May 2006||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Scotland||19||66||Lost||31 May 2006||Murrayfield||Edinburgh||Tour match|
|Men||Georgia||28||19||Won||4 June 2006||Mikheil Meskhi Stadium||Tbilisi||Tour match|
|Men||Tunisia||33||10||Won||19 May 2007||Stade El Menzah||Tunis||Tour match|
|Men||Spain||52||26||Won||23 June 2007||Martínez Valero||Elche||Tour match|
|Men||South Africa||22||5||Won||1 December 2007||Twickenham||London||Final Challenge|
|Men||Belgium||84||10||Won||24 May 2008||Stade Roi Baudouin||Brussels||Tour match|
|Men||Ireland||14||39||Lost||27 May 2008||Kingsholm||Gloucester||Tour match|
|Men||England||14||17||Lost||1 June 2008||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Australia||11||18||Lost||3 December 2008||Wembley Stadium||London||Final Challenge / Cornwall Cup|
|Men||England||33||26||Won||3 May 2009||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Australia||7||55||Lost||6 June 2009||Sydney Football Stadium||Sydney||Tour match|
|Men||New Zealand||25||18||Won||5 December 2009||Twickenham||London||Final Challenge|
|Men||England||26||35||Lost||30 May 2010||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Ireland||29||23||Won||4 June 2010||Thomond Park||Limerick||Tour match|
|Men||South Africa||26||20||Won||4 December 2010||Twickenham||London||Final Challenge|
|Men||England||38||32||Won||29 May 2011||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Wales||31||28||Won||4 June 2011||Millennium Stadium||Cardiff||Tour match|
Celebration of 130th anniversary of the WRU; fully capped match for Wales
|Men||Australia||11||60||Lost||26 November 2011||Twickenham||London||Final Challenge|
|Men||England||26||57||Lost||27 May 2012||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Ireland||29||28||Won||29 May 2012||Kingsholm Stadium||Gloucester||Tour match|
|Men||Wales||21||30||Lost||2 June 2012||Millennium Stadium||Cardiff||Tour match|
Fully capped match for Wales
|Men||England||12||40||Lost||26 May 2013||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||British & Irish Lions||8||59||Lost||1 June 2013||Hong Kong Stadium||Hong Kong||Lions tour match |
|Men||Fiji||43||17||Won||30 November 2013||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||England||39||29||Won||1 June 2014||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Australia||36||40||Lost||1 November 2014||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Ireland||22||21||Won||28 May 2015||Thomond Park||Limerick||Tour match|
|Men||England||12||73||Lost||31 May 2015||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Samoa||27||24||Won||29 August 2015||Olympic Stadium||London||Tour match|
|Men||Argentina||31||49||Lost||21 November 2015||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||South Africa||31||31||Draw||5 November 2016||Wembley Stadium||London||Tour match|
|Men||Czech Republic||71||0||Won||8 November 2016||Markéta Stadium||Prague||Tour match|
Celebration of 90th anniversary of the Czech Rugby Union
|Men||Fiji||40||7||Won||11 November 2016||Ravenhill Stadium||Belfast||Tour match|
|Men||England||14||28||Lost||28 May 2017||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
Old Mutual Wealth Cup
|Men||Australia||28||31||Lost||28 October 2017||Sydney Football Stadium||Sydney||Tour match|
|Men||New Zealand||22||31||Lost||4 November 2017||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Tonga||27||24||Won||10 November 2017||Thomond Park||Limerick||Tour match|
|Men||England||63||45||Won||28 May 2018||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Argentina||38||35||Won||1 December 2018||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Women||United States||34||33||Won||26 April 2019||Infinity Park||Glendale, Colorado||Tour match|
|Women||England||14||40||Lost||2 June 2019||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Fiji||31||33||Lost||16 November 2019||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||Brazil||47||22||Won||20 November 2019||Estádio do Morumbi||São Paulo||Tour match|
|Women||Wales||29||15||Won||30 November 2019||Millennium Stadium||Cardiff||Tour match|
|Men||England||Cancelled||Cancelled||Cancelled||25 October 2020||Twickenham||London||Quilter Cup Moved from June fixture due to COVID-19 Pandemic |
Cancelled on 23 October 2020 due to players breaking COVID rules
|Women||South Africa||60||5||Won||27 November 2021||Twickenham||London||Tour match|
|Men||England||52||21||Won||19 June 2022||Twickenham||London||Quilter Cup|
|Men||Spain||26||7||Won||25 June 2022||El Molinón||Gijón|
|Men||All Blacks XV||35||31||Won||13 November 2022||Tottenham Hotspur Stadium||London||Killik Cup|
|Men||World XV||48||42||Won||18 May 2023||Twickenham||London||Killik Cup|
|Men||Samoa||14||28||Lost||18 August 2023||Stade Amédée-Domenech||Brive-la-Gaillarde||Tour match|
|Men||British & Irish Lions||2||0||2||0||0.00%|
|Men||Zimbabwe (& Rhodesia)||2||1||1||0||50.00%|
Barbarians squad to face Spain on 25 June.
Head coach: John Mulvihill
Note: Bold denotes players that have represented the Barbarians in previous matches. Italics represents uncapped players.
Note: Flags indicate national union under World Rugby eligibility rules.