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  1. ITV Report

The Barbarian’s love affair with spiritual home of Penarth

Penarth and the Barbarian's have a love affair stretching back to 1901.

William Percy Carpmael brought the Barbarians to Prnarth.

The ‘Baa-Baas’, as they are nicknamed, call the town in the Vale of Glamorgan their ‘spiritual home’.

They were formed in 1890 by Londoner William Percy Carpmael.

He decided to invite a group of players to join him on a tour to the north of England.

He saw this as an opportunity to play with friends from various clubs who were normally opponents.

The idea took off and they’ve been playing matches all over the world ever since in their famous black and white hoops, though players wear the socks from their own club strip.

You can only play for the club by invitation only and the club doesn’t have a home stadium or clubhouse.

The Esplanade Hotel in Penarth is where the Barbarians stayed for years. Credit: ITV Archive National Library of Wales

But Penarth has always been where they belong. Or more specifically, the Esplanade Hotel, where the Barbarians always stayed on their Easter tours of Wales.

This week the Baa Baas returned to the town to prepare for their first clash against Wales for seven years on Saturday.

The annual Good Friday game against the Barbarians marked the start of their tour around south Wales, which also included playing Cardiff RFC on the Saturday, Swansea RFC on Easter Monday and then Newport RFC on the Tuesday.

For a period until the First World War, Penarth were as good as the Barbarians.

They had a phenomenally good team and they gave them as much as they got.

So they won the same number of matches.

Things started to go pear shaped before the Second World War and they started to struggle after but they had some famous wins.

For Penarth, a cap is not to play for Wales, it’s to play against the Barbarians.

– Chris Thau, Penarth RFC Historian
The 1976 Penarth side that beat the Barbarians 36-30. Credit: Penarth RFC

The fixture was played 75 times until 1986 - with Penarth losing 11 times and drawing four games.

The bond between Penarth and the Barbarians remains - with the side choosing to train there before Saturday’s match in front of hundreds of local school children.

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Rory Best in action for the Barbarians earlier this month. Credit: PA

For Ireland’s Rory Best - who will play his last international match at the weekend - he says the Baa Baas go back to the “spirit of rugby”.

It’s about enjoyment, it’s about fun, especially in this professional era.

Sometimes you can forget about that.

When you back to a place like the Baa Baas, you actually realise what it’s all about and why you started playing.

There’s something special about doing open training sessions and seeing all the kids.

– Rory Best, Barbarians player

New Wales head Coach Wayne Pivac says the first meeting between the two sides since 2012 will be “really exciting.”

The Barbarians are what rugby is really all about.

It’s the fun element of the game and supporters should be looking forward to some good old fashioned running rugby and it should be an entertaining afternoon.

– Wayne Pivac, Wales head coach
Gareth Edwards in action for the Barbarians against New Zealand. Credit: PA

The Barbarians’ Welsh connection doesn’t end there.

That Gareth Edwards try in 1973 against the All Blacks is still regarded as rugby union's greatest try,

Watch our Sports Reporter Beth Fisher's report on the Barbarbian's love affair with Penarth here: