The Barbarians are one of the most historic and iconic rugby teams in the world and their style of rugby means every game they play is exciting. But how exactly do the Barbarians choose their players?
Who can play for Barbarians rugby? Barbarians Rugby are invitational meaning that any player can play for the team. Professional players are usually invited from different countries, usually varying on the coaching staff involved with the team.
The Barbarians are an invitational team. This means that anyone can play for the Barbarians. However, this does not mean that anyone plays for the Barbarians. What really happens is that when a coaching staff is installed for a period of time, they will usually invite professional players they know well from coaching them on other teams.
There is only one rule that players need to abide by if they want to play for the Barbarians. Any player whose rugby is of a good standard and who behaves themselves on and off the field can be selected. The Barbarians squad also usually features at least one player who has never played for the Barbarians before.
You can really classify the players who usually play for the Barbarians.
1. Players the coach is familiar with
What we often see is the Barbarians team is usually chosen from the team that the coach is from or coaches in. The 2022 Barbarians team that played against England in June is a perfect example of this. France head coach Fabien Galthie was the team’s head coach and he chose a lot of players he was familiar with.
Of the 15 starters in the team, 14 of them were playing in France at the time, with all of the bench playing in France as well. The large majority of that team was French and it even included France’s current captain Charles Ollivon. He also picked starting France winger Damian Penaud and a host of other French talent.
Galthie picked some of the best talent playing in France for that game against England, with Levani Botia, Will Skelton and Davit Niniashvili all starting the game and making a big impact in different ways. We have seen Ronan O’Gara follow in that style, with him picking a lot of Top 14 stars that he knows thanks to being Stade Rochelais’ head coach.
O’Gara called one of his own players when the Barbarians faced the All Blacks XV in November and it is a pattern we see often.
2. Players associated with the opposition
The Barbarians love picking older players who can play against their country. If we take another look at the Fabien Galthie squad that defeated England in June, we see one player who has never played in France and is not French. That man is George Kruis. Kruis is a former England international with 45 caps for his country.
The reason that Kruis was picked was because it would be the last game of his career, with Kruis announcing his retirement before being selected to the Barbarians team. Kruis played his final game against England and even slotted a conversion in a dominating win against his former head coach Eddie Jones.
The traditional role of the Barbarians team is to bring together a team of international superstars who play an incredibly exciting style of rugby and create a great spectacle for the fans to watch.
This is something that still happens with the Barbarians team. Joe Marler is one of the most well-known rugby personalities in the world and so he has played multiple times for the Barbarians. It is why we have seen guys like Teddy Thomas and Levai Botia play for the Barbarians. The Baa-Baas are committed to playing exciting rugby.
The list of international superstars who have played for the Barbarians is never ending, with the team featuring guys like Jonah Lomu, Sergio Parisse and Schalk Burger. The Barbarians are focused on putting on a good show and so they always try to recruit the very best players in the world.
4. Recently retired/ unattached players
One of the things that we have seen over the last couple of months is the Barbarians giving players who have been put out of a job an opportunity to impress a new team. We have seen guys like Murray McCallum, Gabriel Oghre and Elliot Stooke all get an opportunity to impress a new club having been left without a job after Wasps and Worcester folded.
Former England internationals Luther Burrell and Mike Brown have also been getting opportunities with the Barbarians to impress a new team having left Newcastle In the summer and yet to find a new team. Danny Cipriani is set to make his Barbarians debut against Northampton in November.