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Recollections from the 1920s

  • C. D. Aarvold 1927-28

    I seem to remember playing golf at Penarth one Sunday and drinking a pint of beer on the next tee after winning a hole. We had some difficulty getting down to breakfast one year, because someone had thought it right to remove the iron railings from the sea front, and in the quiet of the night had dragged a long length of them up the stairs and along the corridors of the hotel in which we stayed, a highly complicated manoeuvre and very difficult to unravel, and the perpetrators were never discovered.

    Yet the discipline maintained by Emile de Lisa and Haigh-Smith and Hughie was marvellous to behold - Penarth, Swansea, Cardiff and Newport were reasonably tough opponents to deal with in five days, and an ability to move at a fast speed was a useful asset, both on and off the field. An invitation to join the Baa-Baas on their Easter tour was seldom ever refused. I personally still wear a some what crocked nose as a mark of the glory and the fun of it all.

  • H. Waddell 1923-24

    I was first asked to go on tour by Emile, behind the stand at Twickenham, when I was feeling very depressed after we had been badly beaten by England in 1924 and this certainly helped to lift my
    depression. Emile, Jack and Hughie were all on the tour, which I enjoyed almost beyond expression.
    We had a very strong side just before the British tour to South Africa later that year, including great
    players like Voyce, Blakiston, Arthur Young, J. C. R. Buchanan, and it included three members of the famous Oxford three-quarter line - Ian Smith, George Aitken and John Wallace. I was naturally very
    nervous. I had never been to Wales. Cardiff, Swansea and Newport were just great names to me.

    The first game I played for the Barbarians was against Cardiff with a side including all of those
    mentioned and we eventually scrambled home 23-18 and promptly lost to Swansea on Monday 9-11.
    One of the attractions of the tour is that, whereas Sunday can be a dull day, thanks to the hospitality
    and kindness of the Penarth Golf Club, we have the freedom of the course and everybody has to play whether he has played golf before or not. Curiously enough, those who have never played before
    always seem to enjoy it best. We play with one bag to four players. Shot about, and it can be very
    exciting. You can very often win a hole in double figures.

    For many years we spent Easter at the Esplanade Hotel, Penarth, presided over by Mr. King and later by Mrs. King. She loved gay young men. She didn't mind noise. She charged us practically nothing. She didn't object to unusual emblems appearing overnight on the flagpole and she was quite unperturbed and amused when an Irishman drove four or five cattle into the hotel lounge uttering cries of encouragement to the mystified animals. You could get three helpings of every course and if you came in late you cooked

  • A.I. Voyce 1923-24

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    I stayed at the Esplanade Hotel, Penarth, several times. What fun we had!

    We used to dance around the table after the soup was served. I never saw one bowl of soup spilt - we were a gentle lot - good with our feet. your own bacon and eggs. It was a wonderful place for a touring side.

  • W.W. Wakefield 1925-26

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    The Barbarians of the twenties and thirties had a tremendous reputation for playing open and joyous football, like the Harlequins. The result was that over Easter both the Barbarians and the Harlequins
    drew large crowds to Cardiff and Swansea.

    The basic idea of the Baa-Baas always was that Rugby Football was a game to be played for enjoyment, and that the greatest enjoyment could be obtained by the playing of the game as it was meant to be played - for fun and pleasure - and that could best be achieved by throwing the ball about and by playing attacking and adventurous Rugby Football. But to do this, of course, does mean that the players must be skilled and knowledgeable about the game.

    The Barbarians believed and considered that it was a great honour to belong to their club, as, indeed, it was, and that the qualification was not just to be a good player, but to be a well liked person as well. Moreover, if the Barbarians thought there was a player of pleasing personality, who was of high standard in his play, with the right attitude to the game, even though he was not an International, he would be invited to play for the Baa-Baas. I believe that the Barbarians by their attitude to the game and style of
    play has helped to maintain at a high level the right approach to our amateur winter game of Rugby Union Football.