Fiji Rugby's centenary to be marked with Barbarians clash

Getty and James Mortimer     22 Feb 2013     Getty

One of the most celebrated matches ever played by the Barbarians took place in 1970 when Fiji shocked the rugby world by demolishing a star-studded Barbarians team containing legendary names such as Edwards, Duckham, Bennett, Slattery and JPR Williams by 29 points to nine.

Now two of the most attack-orientated teams in the game are set for a rematch.

Speaking about the shared history of the two sides, Barbarians' president, Micky Steele-Bodger, said: “The Barbarians have always had a special affection for Fiji's rugby and its players. Last year Isa Nacewa and Akapusi Qera were very popular Baa-Baas and wore our shirt with distinction. We look forward to players like them providing equally exciting opposition next November.”

Fiji Rugby Union chief executive officer, Manasa Baravilala, said: “2013 marks the centenary of the game in our country and we are honoured to be invited to celebrate this landmark with another game against the famous Barbarians.

“Our great victory 40-odd years ago was a major stepping stone in enhancing Fiji's profile. Our opponents then had some of the biggest names in the game but we had our own heroes that day like George Barley, Pio Tikoisuva, Jona Qoro and Isimeli Batibasaga, who became stars overnight.

“The challenge next November is to again showcase the best of Fijian rugby and there can be no better stage than a fixture against the Barbarians.”
Memorable occasion

Barbarians chairman John Spencer was another member of the club's XV in 1970 and he admits that the occasion still brings back mixed memories.

He said: “I suppose you could say that we were favourites to win the match but in the event we were overwhelmed by Fiji's relentless attacking. The majority of our team were already pencilled in as prospective Lions for the following summer's tour to New Zealand but we did our prospects no favours that afternoon.

“If I remember rightly, we were level at half-time but Fiji finished with seven tries! All we could do at the end was congratulate them on a phenomenal performance.

“When we realised that 2013 was their centenary year, it seemed the perfect opportunity to invite them back for a long overdue rematch. And, of course, this time around the Barbarians will be inviting a host of big-name players to do justice to what is sure to be a great occasion ahead of the Christmas holidays.”

The Barbarians are currently offering a 2-for-1 ticket deal for those fans who wish to book their seats for what promises to be a feast of rugby next autumn.