The Barbarians is time honoured tradition and one that every player of any age or stage in their career hopes to be a part of. From World Cup Winners to British and Irish Lions' legends, running out for Barbarians is on the to do list for every single player in the world of rugby and only a few are fortunate enough to receive the call up and wear the black and white hoops. This year marked 150 years of the Barbarians tradition and if you were anywhere near Twitter on 8th April you'll have seen just how many legends of our game have passed through the ranks and made the Barbarians jersey as covered as it currently is.
The 2015 squad that will take on Ireland in Limerick on Thursday night and England at Twickenham on Sunday afternoon contains men from 10 different countries and houses a staggering 786 International caps. Whilst most were relaxing on Bank Holiday Monday the Barbarians were enjoying their first full day together as a squad in the beautiful surroundings of The Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane. The squad houses some of the most recognisable names in rugby including Brad Thorn, Ugo Monye, Adam Jones and Joe Rokocoko. Also amongst the ranks are some of the lesser known individuals of our game the likes of Konstantin Mikautadze and Ryu Koliniasi Holani and regardless of age or experience level to a man the squad were 'absolutely buzzing for it'! At the helm this year is Captain George Smith, a man that we'll be seeing much more in the Aviva Premiership next year as Australia's most capped forward has just signed for Wasps. As you'd expect George was equally excited about both opportunities and in particular the immediate challenge of Barbarians rugby;
'The Barbarians is special and at the same time it is a lot of fun. I've played against the Barbarians team in the past and for the Barbarians players and one thing I always notice is how much fun they have on the field. They [Barbarians] are very liberal in the way that they play the game, they are very expansive in terms of the ball they play with and that's enjoyable to be a part of.'
As we all know the Barbarians' spirit is part of what makes the experience so unique and special for players of any age or level of experience. Naturally the details off the field plans are being kept nicely under wraps however George gave a little indication of what they'd be enjoying in the build up to Sunday's game at Twickenham Stadium;
'Being that we are in London I think Ugo Monye is going to lead the charge on that [off the field plans], we delegated that to him last night!!! It is always an enjoyable week, you have your dinners and your time to reflect on each others careers and you just get to know all of all of the players within the squad and players that you've admired from afar. The Barbarians brings together a motley crew and its always an enjoyable week, often just chewing the fat and talking about rubbish is great.'
Exactly like the British and Irish Lions the Barbarians is an extremely special concept, unique to rugby and one that should continue to have a place in our great game for many years to come. The Barbarians' experience is about making memories that will last a life time, it is the only time in their playing careers when they are able to run out onto the pitch worry free fuelled by their pure passion for the game. This year's coach, Robbie Deans', focus is on letting the guys 'express themselves', as a coach he will have one full run with the squad and his desire for that run is to just add the few bones of structure to proceedings. For Deans, the honour to be part of the Barbarians' tradition is as great as it is for the players and I've no doubt that this week every single member of the 2015 Barbarians squad will do the jersey proud, both on and off the field!
2015 Barbarians Squad
Backs: Gio Aplon (Grenoble & South Africa), Stephen Brett (Lyon), Tomas Cubelli (Belgrano Ath & Argentina), Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues & Wales), Yoshi Fujita (Panasonic Wild Knights & Japan), James Gopperth (Leinster), Zane Kirchner (Leinster & South Africa), Ugo Monye (Harlequins & England), Wynand Olivier (Montpellier & South Africa), Ruan Pienaar (Ulster & South Africa), Tusi Pisi (Suntory Sungoliath & Samoa), Joe Rokocoko (Bayonne & New Zealand), David Smith (Toulon)
Forwards: Matias Diaz (Pampas & Argentina), Jason Eaton (La Rochelle & New Zealand), Deon Fourie (Lyon), Shane Jennings (Leinster & Ireland), Pablo Matera (Pampas & Argentina), Konstantin Mikautadze (Toulon & Georgia), Ryu Koliniasi Holani (Panasonic Wild Knights & Japan), Adam Jones (Cardiff Blues & Wales), Rodrigo Capo Ortega (Castres & Uruguay), George Smith (Lyon & Australia), Saimone Taumoepeau (Castres & New Zealand), Rodrigo Tejerizo (Tucuman & Argentina), Brad Thorn (Leicester Tigers & New Zealand), Gerhard Vosloo (Toulon) David Ward (Harlequins), Thomas Waldrom (Exeter Chiefs & England), George Whitelock (Panasonic Wild Knights & New Zealand).