To Baa or not to Baa?

The Baa Baas are the stuff of rugby lore and a career highlight for many. TANK LANNING and ZELIM NEL debate whether this renowned exhibition match still warrants it’s place on a cluttered professional rugby calendar.

Tank Lanning

TV numbers are dropping and stadium crowds are looking more and more like the “Crowd” one gets at a cricket Test played in the UAE. Certainly down here in the South, rugby is in a turgid mess crying out for something a little different.

And the Barbarians, built on flair, courage, spirit and passion, are the perfect tonic – A throwback to the amateur era when rugby was as much about making friends and actually enjoying the game as it was about winning.

The Baa Baas are a glorious concept brought to life in 1890 by a fellow called William Percy Carpmael, who’s dream was to spread good fellowship amongst all rugby players. In every respect a touring club, for there are no home matches as there is no home ground!

Less about winning and more about entertaining, it’s no wonder legends like Nick Mallett, Schalk Burger and Jean de Villiers enthuse so vociferously about their time with this great club.

Sure it is a bit of a holiday week (read piss-up) for the players who get to operate in a less pressurised environment, and yes it’s struggling to find it’s feet in the over-fixtured professional era, but throw not the baby out with the bathwater, instead find a way for it to work.

They could start by having this week’s game at the end of the tour instead of at the beginning! But how sad is it to hear coach Allister Coetzee speaking about “Not playing Baa Baa rugby” and “Sticking to the plan”. Snore!

The Baa Baa fixture offers teams an opportunity to experiment a little with the pressure cooker valve removed – an opportunity they, and the rugby community, should grab with both hands.

Old school is cool!

CLICK HERE to catch Zelim’s side of the BIG debate …