Who are rugby’s most capped Barbarians?

We take a look at the men and women who have played more matches for the famous invitational side than anyone else.

The Barbarians are one of rugby’s oldest and most cherished invitational teams, having played their first match at Friary Field in Hartlepool on 27 December, 1890.

In the intervening 131 years, a selection of the game’s best players have appeared in the team’s famous black-and-white hooped jersey.

But, which players have appeared in more matches for the Barbarians than anyone else? Below we take a look at the men and women who have etched their names into the club’s storied history.

Tony O’Reilly — 30 appearances

World Rugby Hall of Fame inductee Tony O’Reilly made his debut for the Barbarians against Cardiff on 9 April, 1955, when still one month short of his 19th birthday.

The Ireland and British and Irish Lions great went on to appear in more Barbarians matches than any other player (30), and also holds the record for most tries (38) in a black-and-white jersey.

An imposing player at six-foot-two and around 95kg, O’Reilly enjoyed the freedom that came with playing for the Barbarians and Lions, for whom he also scored a record number of tries (38) — including six in 10 tests.

O’Reilly’s final appearance for the Barbarians came on 15 April, 1963, when the Irishman helped the invitational side to an 11-9 victory against Swansea.

Ron Jacobs — 25 appearances

A Northampton legend, Ron Jacobs is the record appearance holder for the famous English club, having played 470 matches across 17 seasons. A feat made all the more remarkable when you consider he was a tight-head prop.

Jacobs made his Barbarians debut on 28 December, 1953, playing his part in a 39-11 victory against Northampton’s great rivals, Leicester.

The prop — who also won 29 caps for England — was a regular participant in Barbarians matches and was a member of the invitational side’s first overseas tour, to Canada in 1957.

His 25th and final appearance for the Barbarians came exactly 12 years after his first as he played in another win at Leicester, this time 14-10, on 28 December, 1965.

Andy Ripley — 25 appearances

The swashbuckling England and Rosslyn Park number eight was 19 when he first picked up a rugby ball, yet within five years he was a full international and had represented the Barbarians.

His first match in the invitational side’s famous hooped jersey came on 2 March, 1972, two months after he had made his England debut against Wales.

The Barbarians beat East Midlands 22-17 on that occasion and Ripley would finish on the winning side in his final match for the invitational team too, as Swansea were beaten 27-6 on 20 April, 1981.

Ripley continued to play for Rosslyn Park until the age of 41, and was also a successful 400m sprinter and hurdler, rower and businessman. He also won the BBC show, Superstars in 1980.

Budge Rogers — 25 appearances

A skilled openside flanker, Budge Rodgers was attracted to the Barbarians by the speed and style with which the famous invitational side played.

He made his first appearance for the Barbarians in a 26-22 defeat of Penarth on 31 March, 1961, and went on to play another 24 matches for the team across more than 10 years.

Rogers’ final match in black-and-white came in a 20-14 loss against Leicester on 28 December, 1971. The flanker had won the last of his 34 England caps — a record at the time — two years previously, while Rogers also toured South Africa with the British and Irish Lions in 1962.

Following retirement, he became the Chairman of Selectors for England and also served as President of the RFU in 2000-01.

Tova Derk — three appearances

Wasps’ Swedish winger Tova Derk was selected for the first ever Women’s Barbarians match, playing her part in a 19-0 defeat of Munster at Thomond Park on 11 November, 2017.

She has since appeared in two of the invitational side’s four subsequent women’s matches, taking on the USA at Infinity Park and England at Twickenham in 2019.

Derk had limited playing experience prior to moving to England and pitching up at Wasps, having been a gymnast growing up in Sweden, but no woman has appeared in more matches for the Barbarians.

Steph Te Ohaere-Fox — three appearances

Former Black Ferns prop Steph Te Ohaere-Fox drew level with Derk on three appearances when she captained the Women’s Barbarians to a 29-15 win against Wales in November 2019.

Earlier in the year, Te Ohaere-Fox had lined up against the USA in Colorado and England at Twickenham as the invitational side competed in three women’s matches in seven months.

Last month it was confirmed that the 36-year-old would return to action for Canterbury in this season’s Farah Palmer Cup, having given birth to her family’s second child.

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Last updated: Jul 9, 2021, 2:06:05 PM
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