The Barbarian Football Club is a unique institution in the Rugby World. For me, it has very closely mirrored the most favourable aspects of our Sport. Playing the game totally for fun and adapting to other players' skills and differences and getting the best out of what the game has to offer.
One of my favourite memories in my rugby career was the Hong Kong Sevens in 1981. This typifies the unique spirit of Rugby Football and how to get the best from individuals on a one off basis and win the most prestigious tournament in the world. As always in life, one person tends to stand head and shoulders above the rest and on this occasion in Hong Kong it was the inimitable Andy Ripley, Captain and Businessman supreme. Many have tried to emulate his relaxed and laid back approach without success. "Rippers" on the other hand was deep down a truly committed and competitive athlete and on the field you were certainly made very aware of his unique abilities.
We eventually came to the final against the might of Australia, the Ella brothers Brendan Moon et. al, the humidity was extreme, the atmosphere electric and yet at the end of this the Baabaa's were as laid back as ever. The Committee had left the team totally to their own devices and were reaping the rewards of allowing Andy to do his own thing. In a thrilling final, we pipped Australia and were the first British Based Team to win the competition.
Having played at Leicester Football Club for 13 years this has also been very apparent of our Traditional Fixture at Christmas. Time and time again the best players in the world have given up their Christmas Holiday to play in this festive occasion and the quality of rugby and to me even more important, the depth of friendship by players around the world is indeed something to be cherished.