Barbarians Rugby Christmas Story


It was great to read that the Barbarian F.C. announced that Eddie Jones will coach the side as they return to Twickenham Stadium in the summer of 2023.

It’s been a turbulent year for Rugby Union with the demise of both Worcester and Wasps. But, interesting that the traditional Barbarians – a concept that has lost a little of its magic during the professional era is, I’m pleased to say making a comeback.
Harlequins recently staged a match against the legendary touring team in November. And with a few gaps in clubs’ fixture lists, wouldn’t it be great to see more of the Barbarians? In this blog post we look at the first regular Barbarian RFC rugby match against Leicester Tigers.

Barbarians Rugby Christmas Story – the first game in 1909

Leicester v The Barbarians was always a big attraction for East Midland’s rugby fans. The first game with the Barbarians in 1909 was drawn 9-9. And this marked the beginning of a proud relationship with Leicester. The Tigers are the only club side to have a regular fixture with the famous nomadic team in England.

It began because a regular fixture with Fettes-Lorettonians had fallen through the previous season. And the Barbarians were invited to take up the vacant date in the Tigers’ Christmas rugby festival. That 1909 Christmas, the club had beaten Cinderford, Birkenhead Park, and Penarth. Before the Barbarians arrived on December 28. And two late tries by Pedlar Wood and George Greasley, with an earlier effort from Burdett, produced the draw.

Barbarians Rugby Internationals

The BaBas included notable players. Firstly, Norman Wodehouse gained 14 caps for England between 1904 and 1941. Secondly, South African Full Back, Stephanus Johannes Joubert. Thirdly, John “Jack” Charles Jenkins gained his lone Welsh cap against Paul Roo’s famous Springboks in 1906. Fourthly, England international Anthony Henniker-Gotley. Finally, Reginald Harry Myburgh Hands was an England international born in Cape Town South Africa in 1888.

The Christmas Rugby Match featuring two Invitation XV Teams

The weather was poor and really tightly fought game. Nevertheless, both teams contrived to play a match that was a credit to Tom Crumbie’s men – the Club’s Honorary Secretary in those days. Leicester too was an Invitation team and players were brought in from far and wide.

Barbarians & Leicester Rugby Pioneers

That the match was introduced at all owes much to the efforts of both Crumbie and W.C. Wilson (pictured above). Wilson, a former Richmond player who, on joining the Leicestershire Regiment, became a member of the local club. Walter Wilson was himself an England international at centre in 1907. The same year in which he was elected to the Barbarians.
Prior to the first match with Leicester. He had been on five Barbarian tours. And in the 1909-1910 season was elected to the committee. In that position, he could press for the introduction of the new fixture. It was most appropriate, therefore. That Wilson was captain of the Barbarians for the opening match on 29 December 1909. Before a crowd of more than ten thousand. And amidst some tricky conditions, he scored a try in a nine-all draw.

Barbarians Rugby Christmas Story – the inspired Invitation XV Rugby Shirt

Our Invitation XV Rugby Shirt Vintage is inspired by the great pioneers of Barbarian-style rugby. Also, we offer a classic T-Shirt featuring the motto by Walter Julius Carey. The former Bishop of Bloemfontein and a former member of the Barbarians. It reads – Rugby Football is a game for gentlemen in all classes, but for no bad sportsman in any class.