In celebration of International Women’s Day 2023, it seems only appropriate to tell the story of the creation of the Barbarian Women’s side under the indomitable, fearless and relentless lead of new Barbarian F.C. Committee member Fiona Stockley.

Having been part of the fabric at Wasps Ladies for over two decades as both a player and administrator, an introduction to Barbarians Committee Member Mike Burton by England international Abi Chamberlain led to chance discussion – which, as Stockley says, “lasted for just over two years to the point where the Committee agreed to the inaugural Women’s Barbarians fixture and financial support to create squads for two to three fixtures each season.”

The first match took place at a stormy Thomand Park on Friday 10 November 2017, with Barbarian Women emerging 19-0 winners. The team consisted of players from seven nations and was coached by England Rugby World Cup winner Giselle Mather.

Stockley recalls: “When I had the honour of reading out the first starting line-up for the women’s Barbarians in front of both the men’s and women’s squads and in the company of the Committee and coaching staff (Robbie Deans, Giselle Mather and Liza Burgess), that was the moment I realised this was finally going to happen. All of the calls, the emails, the patience over the last two years was coming to life in the exclusive environment of the Barbarians – the women had arrived centre stage!”

Barbarian Women extended their winning streak over the next two matches, beating Army Women 37-0 and USA Eagles in a closely-fought 33-34 victory at Infinity Park Glendale in a unique double-header, followed by the MLR fixture between the Glendale Raptors and Rugby United New York.

Next up was another Barbarian Women’s first: the first-ever Barbarians double-header. England hosted the famous invitational club at Twickenham Stadium 

Stockley reflects: “This was probably the biggest game the club could ever play. England were number two in the world with professional contracts, and the game took place at the home of English rugby. It simply had a huge impact on the increase of awareness of the sport and the Barbarian Women’s side.”

The England double header was followed in the Autumn with another double header in Wales – resulting in three big international fixtures for the Barbarian Women in just their second year of existence.

Covid sadly halted the rapid and exciting development of the women’s side – but brains, and cogs were busily spinning in the background and, ironically, Covid also led to one of the Club’s most historic moments.

After six positive Covid cases in the men’s camp put paid to the men’s Killik Cup fixture against Samoa, the women stepped up and took centre stage. 

Despite the match being brought forward nearly three hours – and some players only getting to Twickenham 30 minutes ahead of the rescheduled start – the Barbarian Women put on a masterclass at HQ.

Not only did the Barbarian Women put on a stella display to beat South Africa Women’s XV comprehensively in a thumping 60-5 victory, by a record crowd of 29,581 fans cheered on both sides. It was an incredible opportunity for the Club and showcase of the women’s game. 

The Club’s Roll of Honour has incorporated many of the stars of the Barbarian Women’s squads – which now features Rocky Clark, Lenaig Corson, Katy Daly-Mclean, Giselle Mather, Jo Yapp, Noli Waterman, Jas Joyce, Sene Naoupu, Steph Te Ohaere-Fox and Tamara Taylor, amongst many other world-class and world-famous names from more than 12 different countries.

Stockley says: “The pleasure of contacting people and inviting them to play genuinely gives me so much satisfaction. Giving people these opportunities is all the drive I have needed to volunteer within the women’s game for the last 25 years.

“Players are always very grateful for the opportunities and those who were involved in the first game are always keen to offer their availability for future games and that’s when you know the opportunity is as special as we know it is. Watching a new team grow into a cohesive squad, where they form new and lifelong friendships is rewarding and then seeing them perform on the pitch as a result of their investment in the team culture and game plan is incredibly satisfying.”


A timeline of Barbarian Women

  • 2016: Fiona Stockley meets Mike Burton at a Gloucester game with Abi Chamberlain and floats the idea of a women’s Barbarian team
  • 2017: After extensive discussions, the Barbarian Committee agrees to create and finance an inaugural Barbarian Women’s match and commits to the future of the team
  • 10 November 2017: Barbarian Women play inaugural match against Munster at Thomand Park, winning 19-0
  • 17 March 2018: Barbarian Women face Army Women, winning 37-0
  • 26 April 2019: Barbarian Women pip USA Eagles by a point, winning 33-34 at Inifinty Park
  • 02 June 2019: Barbarian Women play in first-ever Barbarians double header against England at Twickenham, losing 40-14 in front of a partisan crowd
  • 30 November 2019: Barbarian Women play in second-ever Barbarians double header, this time against Wales Women at the Principality Stadium, winning 15-29
  • 27 November 2021: Barbarian Women beat South Africa Women’s XV 60-5 in front of a record crowd of 29,581 at Twickenham Stadium


WATCH THIS SPACE for the next Barbarian Women’s fixture! 


Want to hear more about Barbarian Women?

Fiona Stockley’s All Time Barbarians XV on the Women’s Rugby Pod

Great British Bosses by Anything But Footy – Fiona Stockley


Want to get your Barbarians fix at Twickenham this summer? Watch Barbarian F.C. take on World XV – with Eddie Jones returning to coach the Barbarians and Steve Hansen heading up the World XV to battle it out for the Killik Cup on Sunday 28 May (kick-off: 2pm).

General admission tickets are on sale now from at the early-bird price of just £25* for Adults and £15* for Under-16s.

*booking fees apply