BARBARIANS REAPING REWARDS OF OFF-FIELD OVERHAUL
Ashburton Barbarians are hailing a change in attitude for their revival in this year’s Division One competition
The Barbarians sat second in the competition after upsetting previously unbeaten ladder leaders Burnham Chevaliers on June 23. They have lost just two games this season to put themselves in the box-seat for a crucial top-two finish.
However, it’s not just on the field that the club is seeing the benefits of senior figures in the club stepping up.
Player and former coach Steve Gamble said off-field changes needed to happen in order to see results on game day.
“At the start of the season we made some changes to pretty much everything we do. We decided this year we’re going to put together a proper committee,” Gamble said.
“We decided that we were going to do things properly instead of being a team that just turns up and plays.
“We got our main group of boys together and anyone else who was interested and sat down and said, ‘this is how it’s going to work this year’.
“They either had to buy into it or they weren’t really welcome to play at the club.”
The Barbarians finished a disappointing fourth on the table last season with just four wins from 12 games, making an immediate finals exit via a 60-10 thrashing at the hands of the Chevaliers.
But Gamble said the team knew they had what it takes to challenge for the top spots in Div One – it was just a case of putting it into practice.
“Our club has always had a strong culture but now it’s about standing up and delivering on the field as well as off,” Gamble said.
“For example, in the past we would have lost and just carried on doing the same thing.
“This season we lost to Burnham and sat down as a collective group and said, ‘this is why we lost to them and this is what we need to do to beat them’.”
The Barbarians are also thankful to their sponsors, especially the Devon Tavern, and the wider community, who have come together and helped with club facilities, including new floodlights at Ashburton’s Robilliard Park.
“When we started the club up we could have only dreamt that this would be where it would go,” Gamble enthused.
“You turn up to the Burnham game (on Saturday) there would have been probably 300-400 people there watching.
“The community are really getting behind us.”
A long-awaited Division One grand final appearance would be the ideal way to repay their supporters’ faith – and a fitting reward for the club’s transformation off the paddock.