There are a variety of reasons that rugby players give as to what drew them to the sport in the beginning. For some, they liked the action that rugby provided. For others, friends got them involved, while others still got their first taste of rugby at their high school or college. But it was one of the most uncommon reasons that drew 2014 U.S. Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Anne Barry to rugby.
“My then husband was the coach of the Twin Cities Amazons when we first got married. He also played for one of the local club teams. So between his coaching and playing on the weekends the only way to see him was to start playing.”
Anne joined the Amazons in 1983 and was a key member of their club for the next 15 years. She has fond memories of those early years with the Amazons.
“We had very few images of the game. There were no games on video, nothing on TV. I’m still not certain to this day how we ever learned to play as individuals or as a team. One of our early teammates decided to move to London where she started playing and she would send us tapes that we would need to convert to watch how that game was supposed to be played. It was enlightening and made a huge difference in our game.”
Anne played most of her rugby at flanker but towards the end of her playing career she was moved to the back of the scrum to become “the shortest #8 that ever played for the Amazons.”
She was an accomplished flanker and just two years after picking up the game was selected for the Minnesota Select Side. She represented Minnesota from 1985-1993. She also caught the attention of the Midwest selectors and played for the Midwest from 1986-1992.
She went on one tour as a player, with the Amazons to England in 1990. She played her last competitive game of rugby in 1997 and finally hung up the boots for good after playing two matches in 2001, accomplishing her goal of “playing rugby in two centuries.”
As good a player as Anne was on the field, she made an even greater impact on the sport in the boardroom. She was the president of the Minnesota Rugby Union from 1990-2011. She was a member of the Midwest Rugby Board of Directors from 1990-2005 and was the Midwest Board Member to USA Rugby from 1992-2005. As a Board Member for USA Rugby, she was a part of the growth of rugby including the acceptance of the game as a recognized sport by the US Olympic Committee, the creation of the Club and Individual Participation Program (CIPP), the start of national youth rugby development program and the creation of the then North American Caribbean Rugby Association.
She served USA Rugby as its president from 1998-2002 and as treasurer from 1990-1998 and continued on the USA Rugby Board until 2005.
Anne continues to serve the sport wearing many hats. She has been the Minnesota Rugby Union treasurer from 2011. She has been a board member of Minnesota Youth Rugby since 1992 and the association’s president since 2012. She recently completed a four-year term as a Governor’s appointed board member of the Minnesota Amateur Sports Foundation.
Since 2009, Anne has also been on the Governing Council of the Women’s Premier League, a league dedicated to the high performance and improvement of rugby for women in the United States.
Anne’s daughter plays high school rugby in the Minnesota Youth League.
Anne has many lasting memories of her involvement with rugby to date, but those etched in her mind include: the Amazons first Midwest title in 1986; meeting with the United States Olympic Committee along with Gene Roberts, Barb Fugate, Jack Clark and Bob Latham and gaining acceptance as an affiliate sport; paying off all outstanding USA Rugby debt when she took over the Treasurer position and started to build a reserve into the budget for future.
She also has fond memories of: traveling with the U.S. Men’s National Team to Wales and credits Jack Clark with allowing her to be first woman to sit with team at that after-match dinner; the first convention of the North American West Indies Rugby Association and approving the charter and constitution on behalf of USA Rugby; the Amazons winning the National Championship 2013; and being the First Commissioner appointed in Minnesota because she “could explain the game of rugby to the newly elected Governor.”
Outside of rugby, Anne’s professional accomplishments are equally impressive.
Anne has almost 30 years of state public service, with a career that includes gubernatorial appointment to high-level leadership positions in four separate administrations. She currently serves as the Deputy Commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Human Services (DHS), where she provides leadership and operational direction to all of the programs and divisions of the agency.
Anne earned her Juris Doctorate from William Mitchell College of Law and her Master’s in Public Health Administration from the University of Minnesota. She also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Occupational Therapy from the College of St. Catherine. She is currently working to complete her work for a Ph.D. in Kinesiology at the University of Minnesota.