On a cold Parisian afternoon in early March, HBS ruggers of past and present reunited to take on the formidable French squad from Ecole Polytechnique. The match resoundingly marked the inauguration of the first annual “Ex-athletes” Barbarian tour.
The origin of a Barbarian tour can be traced back to 1890, when W.P. Carpmael of Bradford, England came up with the idea of uniting rugby players from different clubs and countries, to travel the land and play local squads. Throughout their 110-year history, the “Baa-Baas” have invited players from 22 nations and over 350 clubs to wear the famous black and white hooped jersey and to spread the ideals of good sportsmanship and fair play.
Alas, this past weekend in Paris, the “Ex-athlete” Barbarians paid homage to the Baa-Baa’s rich tradition, as players from 10 nations and 5 different clubs took to the pitch to seek glory, strengthen friendships and evoke the days of Auld Lang Syne.
Our French foes accommodated our quest for the try zone, and the ensuing battle raged for 80 minutes amidst freezing temperatures with sporadic snow flurries. The Baa-Baas started the match with an impressive display of champagne rugby in which clean ball from the forwards and crisp passes from Tony “House of” Morgan (HBS ’01) to David “Ma Cheri” Miller (NB) to Dann “No hops” Angeloff (OA) to Nick “Southie” Eaton (HBS ’01) set up Guy “One Trick” Dixon (Dartmouth) for an early score. Throughout the entire match, the Barbarian’s scrum, anchored by Pryce Greenow (HBS ’01), Charlie Graham (HBS ’01), “Red” Baron Hanson (Harvard Design School), Jim “Beau Mec” Windle (OB ami), Warren Valdmanis (HBS ’01), and roused by the battle cry “Ollie, Ollie, Ollie”, proceeded to push the Polytechnique scrum around the pitch much like a cat plays with a ball of yarn. The French by no means laid down like chiens, but instead employed a strategy of using younger, faster, more fit reserves against an older, slower Barbarian squad, many of whom had just returned from their night out at les boites de nuit without so much as a caf‚ au lait. When the final whistle blew, you could not distinguish one team from another, as a thick mud covered all from head to toe. This filth was a testament to the struggle that had transpired. Much to the chagrin of the Barbarians, victory was reserved for the host team. Zut Alors!
After congratulations were given, the Barbarians honored the “Polys” with a rousing rendition of “La Marseillaise,” to which our French amis responded with a teary-eyed version of “God Save the Queen.” They closed with a French version of “We All Live in a Yellow Submarine.” Bizarre, indeed.
Unfortunately there was not time for a legitimate drink-up, since the Baa-Baas were back on the bus and headed to Stade de France to attend the rugby match watched by the entire continent – England v. France. This match pitted the two remaining undefeated teams in the Six Nations tournament against each other. With the European championship, and more importantly, Chunnel bragging rights on the line, the Stade was filled to an all-time maximum capacity in excess of 80,000 spectators. A spirited French team overwhelmed the heavily favored English squad. Driven by cheers of “Allez les Bleus”, the French side secured a stunning victory, one that no person at the Stade that day will ever forget.
Despite the fatigue from their earlier match, the Barbarians too, were caught up in the moment and resolved to faire la fete in what would become a nuit blanche. After a quick pint with 200,000 of Barry “Oconnoroshea” Horgan’s (OD) countrymen in Paris’ oldest Irish bar, Kitty O’Shea’s, the team was off to Rue de Cannette (a.k.a. Rue de la Soif – literally “Thirsty street”). It was there that the touring ruggers showed their true colors, as the club’s captain and spiritual leader, Warren Valdmanis (HBS ’01) lead the team through a rousing repertoire of songs, chants and ballads. Of course the night would not have been complete without a trip the Arc de Triumph to enjoy Champagne on the Champs.
When the sun finally rose over the banks of the Seine and errant lovers and partiers retreated from the encroaching day, the Barbarians met once more. We bid each other farewell and all made a solemn pledge to tour again next year.
To this I must say, “Thank you gentlemen, that’s my call!”
2002 “Ex Athlete” Barbarians
Harvard Business School Rugby Club
Dann Angeloff (OA) – USA
Nick Eaton (HBS ’01) – South Africa
Sean Gass (OA) – USA
Chris Gordon (HBS ’01) – Canada
Charlie Graham (HBS ’01) – Australia
Pryce Greenow (HBS ’01) – Wales
Red Baron Hanson (Design School) – USA
Barry Horgan (OD) – Ireland
Nick Lane (HBS ’01) USA
Dave Miller (NB) – USA
Tony Morgan (HBS ’01) – Wales
Lee Rawlings (HBS ’01) – USA
Austin Sharp (HBS ’01) – New Zealand
Paul Shuga (HBS ’01) – USA
Jim Windle (HBS partner) – England
London Business School Rugby Club
Roderik Bolle – Netherlands
Adam Dixon – USA
Dartmouth College Rugby Club
Jake Cole – USA
Guy Dixon – USA
Harris Ferrell – USA
Mark Husken – Canada
Kieth Lieberthal – USA
Mark Rosetti – Spain
Buck Ratchford – USA
Dickon Verey – England
Andy Osterlunde – Canada
Robert Valdmanis – Canada
Thor Valdmanis – Canada
Warren Valdmanis (HBS ’01) – Canada
Richard Valdmanis – Canada
Father Valdmanis – Latvia
New York University – Stern Rugby Club
Sean Costello (NYU Stern) – USA