BARBARIAN RUGBY CLUB
The Wichita Rugby Union Football Club was formed in 1973 by Air Force Captain Vern Francis. He and several others who played on both the East and West coast gathered a group of young men that summer. Many of these men had never heard of or played the sport before. For the first several years the team was not very successful.
In 1975, Bryan Morrison from New Zealand offered to coach the club. New Zealand has a very strong rugby tradition. He recruited several players from California to play for the team. Under his guidance, the club started winning matches. In 1977 two Wichita Rugby Union players, Dan Culbertson and Bruce Henderson were selected to play for the American international side (or caps). Dan never made it off the bench but Bruce was capped. A well prepared Canadian side won the match 17-6.
1977 - 1979
In 1977, another rugby club sprang up -- Old Yeller Rugby. The team was mostly made up of former KU and Washburn ruggers. A majority were lawyers who didn't want to play for Wichita after having been beaten by them so badly in the preceding years. They wanted to form their own team and defeat Wichita. By 1979, they had begun to win against the aging Wichita side. Wichita was having problems recruiting new players and many veterans were retiring.
In 1982, the two clubs merged to form the Wichita Barbarians Rugby Football Club. These two clubs formed a very strong rugby team and they were very competitive in Division I of the Heart of America Union. But once again, the inability to recruit and to replace retiring veterans was sapping the club. In 1990 the Wichita Barbarians folded. For a very short while there was a WSU club side, but this did not last either.
David Farris, former Cornell, Kansas State University/Fort Riley and Topeka clubs member, moved to Wichita in 1992. After a year of driving 3 times a week to Topeka to continue playing, he decided to build a new club in Wichita. He was the team captain and club president in Topeka, knew people, and had the knowledge, so he contacted several veterans and began reorganization of the club. The Wichita Barbarians Rugby Football Club was reformed. At first, with not even enough players to field a side, and little financing, the team was less than competitive. But by 1994 an influx of new talent, as well as backing by sponsors, helped the Barbarians turn the corner.
In recent years, the team has seen a run of unprecedented success. Within the local area union, Wichita has been dominant, claiming five of the past seven league titles through 2015. The Barbarians have also been regularly doing well on a national scale, having finished in the top 16 teams of DIII rugby five of the past seven years. In 2009, the only two teams to beat Wichita were the teams that wound up playing each other for the national title. In fact, since 2009, Wichita has twice had the unfortunate luck of being beaten out of the playoffs by the eventual national champions.