Do you often hear the word “Barbarians” mentioned in rugby conversations? We'll tell you who they are in France and England.
The Barbarians are among the most famous teams in rugby. But where do they come from and who are they? The English and French Barbarians share more or less the founding principle: to promote the values of the sport by playing a bold and entertaining style of rugby.
The club was founded in 1890 by students from the universities of Oxford and Cambridge, who played rugby for their clubs. The idea was to play close-season rugby by setting up a touring club that did not have a clubhouse or home ground. The Baa-Baas, as they are known, select players from any club, regardless of where they are from. Barbarians players are instantly recognisable thanks to their distinctive kit: a black and white hooped jersey and black and white shorts worn with each player's own club socks. The club fields players who represent the values of rugby and who like to play the game with flair and panache. While the players selected to play the Baa-Baas have lots of talent, they do not necessarily have to be internationals.
A host of rugby greats have played for the Barbarians over the years, such as Gareth Edwards and Phill Bennett of Wales, Andy Irvine of Scotland, and Jean-Pierre Rives and Jean-Baptiste Lafond of France.
In 2017, the first women's Barbarians team was founded and played its first match, against Munster, one of Irish rugby's four provinces.
Taking inspiration from the English, a group of rugby-playing friends headed up by the legendary Jean-Pierre Rives and Jacques Fouroux decided to call themselves the French Barbarians in 1977. It was not until 1979 that the French Baa-Baas came into being, however. They played their first match in 1980, against Scotland. And in 2017, nearly 30 years on, they became the France B team.
The team's philosophy is to have fun by playing "champagne rugby”, free of pressure and the need to win. As a result, the club is committed to one thing and one thing only: to attack from anywhere on the pitch.
The French Barbarians' kit is inspired by that of their English counterparts. Every player wears their own club socks. The colours of the jersey are a tribute to the founders of the original Baa-Baas:the sky blue of Cambridge, the dark blue of Oxford and the blue of France.
In recent years the French Barbarians have become France B, which means that only French players can now play for the team. For that reason the side is often made up of the rising stars of French rugby and former France internationals such as Aurélien Rougerie and Frédéric Michalak, who played their last games for their country in 2018.
The Barbarians is a legendary name in rugby. Taking their cue from the original English club, the French founded their own Barbarians, though they were not the only ones to do so. Rugby powerhouses New Zealand also have their very own Barbarians.