From The Vaults

19 October 2020
#FromTheVaults - Barbarians Jersey, 1903

At the start of 2020 we revived an old "Object of the Month" feature and now after a brief hiatus, our #FromTheVaults series is back!

With the Barbarians returning to Twickenham this month, albeit behind closed doors, we wanted to highlight an example of the famous black and white hooped jersey currently on display in the World Rugby Museum.

Founded in 1890 by William Percy Carpmael, the Barbarian Football Club is an invitational touring rugby team. Carpmael, who played for Blackheath and Cambridge University, invited players from various rugby clubs to form a team to tour the north of England following the end of the rugby season in March. The criteria for a player's selection was twofold: their rugby must be of a high standard, and they must have a good behavioural record on and off the pitch. Carpmael's club sought to promote good-fellowship amongst players, as reflected by the club motto: "Rugby Football is a game for gentlemen in all classes, but for no bad sportsman in any class".

This long-sleeved black and white hooped jersey belonged to the forward Guy Evers (1874-1959) who toured with the Barbarians in the 1902/03 season. It was made by sportswear manufacturer George Lewin Co (Est. 1869). Although the white hoops have now yellowed a little, the jersey is in good condition for its age, perhaps having only been worn for training as there is no match day number stitched onto the back. The design of the Barbarians kit was decided at a meeting in October 1890 and remains largely unchanged today, though in the first season, the emblem featured a skull and crossbones. This jersey instead features the BFC monogram which is still used today. The jersey would have been worn with black shorts and the socks of each player's regional club.

During the spring tour of 1903, Evers played three out of the four matches: a 0-3 victory against Penarth on 10th April, a 28-0 loss to Swansea on 11th April and a 4-10 win at Cardiff on 13th April. As there is no number on the back of the jersey, it is possible that it was made for the final match of the tour in which Evers did not play, a visit to Devonport Albion on 14th April.

Evers played club rugby at Moseley. He joined the 1899 British Isles tour to Australia and kept a number of diaries and scrapbooks - now in the archive at the World Rugby Museum. The scrapbooks contain images of the tour party, places they visited and relevant newspaper cuttings. The diaries, written to be read by his family on his return, provide valuable insights about the voyage to Australia, the matches played and the events and trips that were planned for the tourists. Although he was not selected for the first Test (which the tourists lost 13-3), Evers was among five new players chosen to line up for the second Test, a victory for the Lions, 0-11. He retained his place for the two subsequent Tests - further victories for the touring party.

Following his success on tour, Evers was invited to appear for the Barbarians in the 1902/03 season. He may not have played for England, but his invitation to play for the Barbarians is testament to the quality of his rugby and a sign of exemplary sportsmanship.

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