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John Spencer, president of the Barbarians: “There is no other club in the world like us”

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Un more than centenary team (founded on December 27, 1890) like the Barbarians, the rugby team that in each game considers itself to be the best rugby team of all time, has only had six presidents throughout its history. John Spencer has held the position since 2019. International with England, he played 23 games with the Barbarians in the 70s. He is the one who leads the expedition that will face the XV del León in Gijón and introduces us to one of the most unique clubs in the world

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How would your president define the Barbarians?

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The Barbarians are a Club single: there is no other Club in the world like us. We have no land, no clubhouse or partners, and membership in the team is by invitation only. Our Club is rooted in the things that we and the rugby family around the world love about our game: style, courage, spirit and passion. Even more important to our players and fans are the values ​​of fun and friendship. Every time we put together a team, we create new friendships for life. Our Club was formed in December 1890 and lives on today, with all those values ​​and friendships as strong as ever.

Playing with the Barbarians is an honor and a privilege.”

John Spencer, presidente

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What role do the Barbarians play in the history and present of rugby? How do the Barbarians combine the tradition and evolution of rugby?

We are a historic club, of course, but our most important commitment is to the future of rugby. Many of our players started playing because of the excitement and love for the game projected by the Barbarians style, and they recreate it on and off the pitch when they come with us. We play against teams from all over the world, from leaders like England, New Zealand and Australia to developing teams like Spain, Brazil and Georgia. We launched our women’s team in 2017. Through our charitable trust, we provide grants to organizations around the world that use rugby to improve people’s lives. Our role in rugby history is well known and we take our responsibility for the future very seriously.

What does it mean for a player to be a Barbarian?

Es an honor and a privilege being invited to join the Barbarians. Our players see it as a highlight and, for many, it marks a fitting end to an illustrious career. With becoming a Barbarian comes a responsibility to uphold our values ​​and the spirit of rugby, both within our team and when they return to their clubs, including the values ​​of enjoyment and friendship.

What traditions do the Barbarians have?

One of our key traditions is honor our roots in rugby. When our players take the field, they wear socks that represent their previous clubs, from the first, and often two different ones so that we can honor two clubs. This reminds us of what we love about rugby and how much the game has given each of us. It also reminds our fans that the Barbarias are special, and are guaranteed an enjoyable game.

Jonah Lomu, con los Barbarians
Jonah Lomu, con los Barbarians

How has rugby changed since you were Barbarian until today?

In terms of game, there are important changes. The intensity of training has increased considerably, along with strength and conditioning programs to keep players fit. Certainly the players they are bigger that when I played! Rugby, like all sports, must evolve to protect them by ensuring they have long and successful careers, and our game must too.
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evolve to welcome new fans and continue to entertain. We are becoming more inclusive and the Barbarians welcome inclusion and diversity. But it is also important to remember that much of rugby has stayed the same, in terms of the lifelong friendships the game can build and the values ​​it embodies. Sportsmanship, respect, courage and discipline are equally and always important.

What are the Bárbaros going to offer the public from Gijón?

The public of Gijón is in luck! We have an excellent team with nine nations and some world famous names who will play their last professional games: Tom Wood (England), Devin Toner (Ireland) and Joe Tekori (Samoa). They will offer a wonderful show full of creative and exciting rugby and they will thrill not only the fans but also their opponents. We have also spent the week getting to know the local sport, bringing a bit of ourselves to the sports scene in Gijón. When the Barbarians get together, we always have the opportunity to create a new style. We combine the training and the plays of all the nations that we gather. In this case, we have players from nine different nations, so our manager, John Mulvihill, has brought together nine different types of defense and attack in a sensational Barbarians style of play.

What do you know and think about the state of rugby in Spain?

Rugby is growing in Spain and it is wonderful to see it. Of course, football will always be the beating heart of this country, but with the national team rising to 15th in the world rankings and the exciting Sevens tournaments in Malaga and Seville as part of the World Series in January this year, there are great great opportunities for rugby to grow here. We’re proud to be a part of that this weekend.

Tickets for the match between XV del León and the Barbarians at the Estadio El Molinón-Enrique Castro ‘Quini’ (9:00 p.m.) are available at


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