The Barbarians became involved in the Under 85kg rugby grade in 2008, believing that there was an opportunity for the club to assist in fostering this grade. It is an amateur grade, encompassing many players, who because of weight, work, or time restraints, find that this grade caters for serious amateur players, playing to high technical status. We believe that many future club committees, and club officials, will come from this base of enthusiastic young men. To date the trend of senior players “doing their time” within their club is trending downwards. Following acceptance by the Barbarians committee, it was decided to put a Barbarian flavour to the grade by referring to it as ‘middleweight rugby”.
Middleweight rugby is played as a grade in Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury, North Harbour and Waikato. Counties Manukau and Northland are trialling the grade. NSW has a strong competition. In the past Auckland has played Wellington and has attended an 80/80 tournament hosted by Malaysia. We were also aware of previous trans-Tasman games between North Harbour and Sydney.
Following a very successful trip by an Auckland U85kg grade to Thailand in 2002, Ken Baguley (former chairman of the Auckland Rugby Union) suggested the NZRU consider promoting this grade of rugby. Nothing came of this, however, his paper has become the basis of our club’s plan for this grade.
Following the completion of the inaugural middleweight tournament, a combined effort by the Auckland Rugby Union and the Barbarians, a NZ Barbarians side was selected to play an Australian side. The tournament was attended by teams from North Harbour, Auckland, Waikato, and the U23 national Thai team. This Barbarian selection then toured Sydney, winning both games it played. This format has continued with a team from Thames Valley replacing the Thai team last year (2009).
Every effort is being made to include teams from Wellington, Canterbury, as well as Counties and Northland.
The Barbarian Rugby Football Club see entry into weight restricted rugby as an integral part of the club’s effort to foster amateur rugby. We are committed to continue driving forward for a national competition as part of the NZRU calendar.
The club has been presented a very prestigious trophy, the Ladore Trophy, by the family trust of Norm Bennett, to be presented for excellence within this grade.