DFP Header Area

Share this MunsterRugby.ie page

No Club Without… Barbara Richardson

17th May 2017 By The Editor

As part of Munster Rugby’s #NoClubWithoutU campaign, we profile a snapshot of supporters and volunteers who have made an invaluable contribution to Munster throughout the seasons, from grassroots to the professional game, continuing with overseas supporter Barbara Richardson.

As part of Munster Rugby’s #NoClubWithoutU campaign, we profile a snapshot of supporters and volunteers who have made an invaluable contribution to Munster throughout the seasons, from grassroots to the professional game, continuing with overseas supporter Barbara Richardson.

There are not many who can rival Barbara’s dedication and passion for Munster.  Previously living in London’s rugby heartland – down the road from Twickenham and within a stone’s throw of The Stoop – her nearest and dearest Harlequins will always hold a special place in her heart, but it’s Munster that has stolen it.

Despite the distance, Barbara has remained one of the most frequent visitors to Thomond Park and Irish Independent Park every season for over a decade, also leading the charge on the road, supporting Munster around Europe and is instantly recognisable in her trademark and self-made Munster dress. This season alone for example, she has attended no less than thirteen games, yet Barbara regards this as well below her season’s average.

It’s a love affair that began in 2004 when Harlequins and Ireland fly-half Paul Burke made a return to Munster having previously made six appearances for the province in the mid-nineties.

“It’s all Burkey’s fault really.  He left us when I had my Quins hat on and I was very good friends with Paul and all his family, and used to travel with his Dad to see Paul play for Munster when they were in Wales.  Long story short I was seduced by Munster – the team, the performances and the passion of the supporters.

“Back in the day I couldn’t get a Heineken Cup ticket because I was too far down the [Supporters Club] list, so instead I did two years where I didn’t miss a home or away Magners League game.”

Such devotion meant Barbara was also determined to look the part, and while Munster merchandise over the seasons has been far reaching, from jerseys to piggybanks, lunchboxes to birthday cards, it never extended as far as dresses.  Hence she improvised, citing one of the biggest grossing movies of all time as her inspiration.

“In the movie ‘The Sound of Music’ Julie Andrews makes play clothes out of curtains.  Munster used to make curtains which were essentially a bit of fabric with a heading, so I cut the headings off and made the dress.

“It’s falling to bits but if I don’t wear it I get complaints!

Barbara is not alone in the Munster fashion stakes, none other than Simon Zebo’s dad, Arthur, also donning custom made Munster attire when supporting the men in red.

“Oh I know I have competition from his Munster suit.  Arthur is someone I meet when supporting the boys and the whole Zebo family are wonderful. We have never quite had a suit/dress-off, but maybe down the line.”

When attending the Munster Rugby Awards in 2015, ‘Babs’, as she’s affectionately known to the squad, took it upon herself to bring her own ‘tongue-n-cheek’ awards, handing out a select number of framed certificates post-ceremony.

“Paul O’Connell for example got an award for, well, being Paul O’Connell”, she laughs.  “Donncha O’Callaghan got one for being the best hugger and Simon Zebo for scoring a hat trick that season against Zebre.”

With so many games and so many shared experiences through the highs and lows of the past thirteen years, there may indeed be a book in Barbara one day, but for now, when asked to pick her standout memory thus far, she opts for Cardiff ’06 and a moment that symbolises the close bond between Munster players and supporters.

“I felt like the luckiest woman alive in 2006.  John O’Sullivan, who at the time was one of the Munster back rowers, came and found me in the crowd after we had won the Heineken Cup and took me into the post-match party saying, ‘follow me and we’ll pretend you’re my mother’.

“The only pity for me was that I had to catch a train back so I was literally only in Cardiff for an hour after the game.  But what a day and what John did was truly special and truly Munster.

Munster Rugby, no club without Barbara Richardson, #NoClubWithoutU.

2017/18 Season Tickets CLOSE AT 4PM TODAY.  Click here for full details and to purchase.

Share

DFP – Right Column – HalfPage

DFP – Right Column – MPU

Munster Rugby E-zine

Sign up to the e-zine to get all the latest news directly to your inbox from Munster Rugby