From Mumbles to a Maori

My relationship with the Barbarians was to continue for many years. There was a saying that if you were invited to play for the Barbarians and you turned it down then you would never get the chance to play for them again. A white invitation similar to one for a drinks reception would be posted to you and you were expected to reply in writing. The invitation read, “The Barbarian Football Club, the president and committee have pleasure in inviting H Thorneycroft to play for the Barbarians on the Easter Tour 1992”, and the initials GWL (Geoffrey Windsor-Lewis) together with the club badge were included on it. This was the first time that I had received an invitation, and when it arrived in the post I felt very special. The squad would then very often be published in the national broadsheets, which was an honour. At Wellingborough School, a pupil called Michael Ellis, who is now a practising barrister in Northampton, always used to pay for his birthday to be published in the Times and whenever I had my name in a broadsheet I thought of him.

The only qualifications considered when The Barbarian’s issued an invitation were first that the player’s rugby was of a high enough standard, and secondly that he should behave himself on and off the field. The club philosophy was based on attack with flowing running rugby with lots of tries, and this was the style of rugby I loved playing.


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