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Home > About USRF > Press Releases > 2008 Press Releases > December 8, 2008

Press Release

All-Star Studded Autographed Barbarians
Jersey on the Auction Block

San Diego, CA (December 8, 2008) - Own a piece of rugby history while supporting youth and high school rugby in the United States by putting in the highest bid for this classic Barbarians jersey signed by all 22 members of the squad that played against Australia in the London Olympics Centenary Match at Wembley Stadium on December 3, 2008.

The 22 signatures are from some of the greatest players in the game today. Richie McCaw, George Gregan, John Smit, Bryan Habana and IRB Player of the Year, Shane Williams, are just some of the names that adorn this beautiful, mint-condition Barbarians jersey. In addition, the jersey includes the signature of 2007 Rugby World Cup winning Springbok coach and Barbarians coach for the match against Australia, Jake White.

Donated to the US Rugby Foundation by Micky Steele-Bodger, President of the Barbarian Football Club, this very unique piece of rugby memorabilia is a must have for the passionate rugby fan.

In 1890, WP Carpmael came up with the concept of assembling a team of players good enough to take on the best teams in the land. “His aim that the Barbarian Club should be absolutely cosmopolitan with the aim of spreading good-fellowship amongst all rugby football players has been rigidly adhered to by those who have followed him in the management of the club. Membership is by invitation and the only qualifications considered when issuing an invitation are; that the player's football is of a good enough standard and secondly that he should behave himself on and off the field. There is no discrimination whatsoever by race, colour or creed.” (Barbarian Rugby Club website: http://www.barbarianfc.co.uk.

Ever since the first Barbarians team took to the pitch on December 27, 1890, the team wearing the black and white hoops of the Barbarians embodied flair, spirit and passion. Tony O’Reilly, Phil Bennett, Gareth Edwards, David Campese, Zinzan Brooke, Gavin Hastings, Phillipe Sella, Jason Leonard, Gerald Davies, Francois Pienaar, Andy Irvine, Mike Gibson, Nick Farr-Jones, Jonah Lomu, David Duckham and Michael Lynagh, are just some of the legends who have pulled on the Barbarians jumper over the years.

Past and current US Eagles who have played for the Barbarians are Kevin Higgins, Kevin Swords, Chris Lippert, Dan Lyle, Mike MacDonald, Paul Emerick and Mike Hercus.

The Barbarians have enjoyed success on several occasions against touring national sides but the most memorable win for many is the 23-11 victory over the New Zealand All Blacks in 1973 in a match many consider the Greatest Game Ever Played. That match also included what many consider the Greatest Try Ever Scored when Gareth Edwards finished off a magnificent length of the field try.

The Barbarians team that took the field against Australia in the first Barbarians match ever played at Wembley Stadium looked on paper to be a difficult team to beat. The 22-man squad boasted over 1,000 international test matches between them, including the world’s most capped rugby player, George Gregan, who had played in an unthinkable 139 tests.

But the Australians were looking to end their Fall Tour on a high note. It was a tour that started off on the wrong foot a month earlier in Hong Kong as the Wallabies lost to the All Blacks 19-14. A week later, Australia scraped by Italy 30-20. The next week they downed England 28-14. That was followed by a close win over France, 18-13, before a 21-18 loss to Wales in Cardiff on November 29.

It was the Wallabies who drew first blood against the Barbarians as Lote Tuquiri scored a breakaway try to put the Australians up 5-0. The conversion and two further penalties by James O’Connor pushed the score to 13-0. The half ended with Springbok Percy Montgomery potting two penalties for the Barbarians to put his team in reach at 13-6 at the break.

With fliers Shane Williams, Joe Rokocoko and Bryan Habana occupying the deep three positions, opportunities soon started to appear for the Barbarians. Rokocoko and Habana combined to get the ball down close but drives over the line by McCaw and Rod Blake resulted in five-meter scrums rather than five-point tries.

With 20 minutes left in the match and the Barbarians still trailing by seven, Shane Williams used his head and his feet before putting Jerry Collins in for the Barbarians second try. The conversion was off but now it was just a two-point Wallaby lead at 13-11. The Barbarians continued to attack in the Wallaby end and nearly took their first lead but Francois Steyn narrowly missed with a penalty attempt.

Still willing to attack, the Barbarians turned ball over deep in their own end and the Wallabies made them pay for their miscue as Drew Mitchell countered, setting up the decisive try by Lachie Turner.

While this Barbarian side continued the tradition of free-flowing, attractive rugby, it was the well-formed Australian defense that proved to be the difference in the match as the Wallabies won the entertaining contest 18-11.

The signatures on this Barbarians jersey reads like a Who’s Who of World Rugby!

Most players could only dream of playing 139 first-grade matches but Australia’s George Gregan played in 139 test matches during an incredible 14 year international career. The majority of those matches were against the world’s best as he lined up against South Africa 30 times, New Zealand in 27 matches, England 16 times and France for 10 games. He was a member of Australia’s Rugby World Cup winning side in 1999. He nearly captained Australia to the RWC title in 2003 but England claimed the prize that year, defeating the Wallabies in a thrilling final. And at the 2007 RWC, Gregan tied England’s Will Carling by captaining his team for the 59th time.

Arguably the best open side flanker in the game today, New Zealand’s Richie McCaw has now played in 70 internationals for his country. Playing with reckless abandon and a huge work rate, one wonders how much longer his body can endure the rigors of test rugby but for now we all get to enjoy watching him on the pitch. He has been a part of many All Blacks team that have enjoyed Tri Nations and Bledisloe Cup success, and several Crusaders teams that have won Super 12 and 14 titles. He captained the All Blacks for the first time when just 23 and has continued as full-time AB’s skipper since 2006, the same year he was named the IRB’s Player of the Year.

The captain of this Barbarian side, John Smit, has a little experience as skipper, having captained the South African Springboks to the 2007 Rugby World Cup title. He is a tremendous leader as well as an outstanding player and has been one of the game’s greats for all of his 81 test match appearances. He played most of his early top level rugby at prop before being moved to the hooker position. While most of his international career has been at hooker he now finds himself spending time back at the prop position.

Another enjoyable figure to watch on the pitch is South African backrower Schalk Burger. A second-generation Springbok, Burger is another who puts his body on the line each time he pulls on the South African jersey. Injury has kept him off the pitch on several occasions but the giant Springbok’s next test will be his 50th. He’s also one of nine Springbok 2007 Rugby World Cup winners in this Barbarians lineup.

Wales’ Shane Williams has developed into one of the game’s best wingers. 2008 was a year that Williams will remember for quite some time. Not only did he play in his 61st international, but he was a grand slam-winning member of Wales 2008 Six Nations Championship team. He went on a scoring spree during the Six Nations as he scored two against Scotland, two against Italy, and one against both Ireland and France. The try against France was his 41st for Wales, breaking the previous try scoring mark. For his efforts he was named 2008 Six Nations Player of the Tournament and became the 1st Welshmen to win the IRB International Player of the Year award.

Barbarians coach for this match, Jake White, is as decorated a coach as there is in the game today. After coaching the South African U21 side to the World Cup title in 2002 he followed that up with coaching the 2007 Springboks to the Rugby World Cup title. He was also named the IRB Coach of the Year in 2004 and 2007.

The complete 22-man Barbarian squad that played against Australia on Wednesday, December 3, 2008 at Wembley Stadium are:

John Smit                                  Richie McCaw                 George Gregan

Percy Montgomery                     Shane Williams              Joe Rokocoko

Rico Gear                                  Ollie Smith                    Francois Steyn

Jean de Villiers                           Bryan Habana                Fourie du Preez

Federico Pucciariello                    Rodney Blake                Nick Koster

Cencus Johnston                         Mark Regan                    Bakkies Botha

Johann Muller                             Chris Jack                       Jerry Collins

Schalk Burger                Jake White (coach)                     Eddie Jones (asst. coach)

This unique jersey, autographed by some of the game’s greats, is in excellent condition and will add value to any rugby collection on any continent. In addition, a Letter of Authentication by Micky Steele-Bodger, President of the Barbarian Football Club, will accompany the jersey.

You will also have the satisfaction of knowing that every cent of your winning bid will go to help support youth and high school rugby in America through the United States Rugby Foundation (www.usrugbyfoundation.org), a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization.

Buyer is responsible for shipping costs (North America-$10, International-$20).

The United States Rugby Foundation accepts PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express. Winner's payment must arrive no later than 7 days after sale. Thank you for bidding and Good Luck!