Tyler Barberi


From Wrestling to Captain to Professional
By Jordan Fitzpatrick
June 13th, 2019

Tyler and I met at a local spot in Remington. He had mentioned that he wasn’t drinking right now, so he grabbed pizza and I grabbed a beer and we got to talking. “Please help yourself to a slice,” he offered repeatedly. I told him I was just fine with my brew and asked why he wasn’t drinking right now. “Have you ever quit drinking for an extended period of time? I feel great.” 

As a player in a pretty recreational league, it’s different to hear this sentiment. Usually the point of being a part of a team like BC is to play hard, and party harder. It was refreshing to hear this. Tyler also continued to chat about his participation in the new pro-team in DC, and how his choosing not to drink for a little while will help him be in the best shape he can be. Meanwhile, we chatted and I drank my beer, and Tyler proceeded to eat his entire pizza slice by slice. 

Tyler’s laundry list of accolades is undoubtedly impressive. He was sure to include every team that he’s played for, and also spent time recalling how exactly the dates aligned. This could be an overlooked detail in a conversation, but I saw it more as Tyler’s way of respecting his rugby career and all of the teams that he has played with in the past. He wanted to be sure to acknowledge each one accurately, precisely and reverentially. 

 Tyler’s love for competitive sport started in his high school years at Damascus High School where he began wrestling. He never backed down from a higher weight class, either – he made this very clear. Tyler then moved on to Marion Military Institute where he wrestled for another two years. Wrestling is the perfect precursor to rugby. It teaches you the strength and persistence needed not only of the body, but of the mind 

From MMI, Tyler then transferred to Towson University in 2008 which changed everything. The closest thing that Tyler had to a rival in life at that time went by the name of Tony Ayiagh. Tony introduced him to rugby and told him to come out to practice. Tyler’s internal dialogue said “If I had one more chance to hit this guy I will take it,” which is why he originally showed up. Well, he was able to hit him, and he was also able to fall in love with the sport, too. Tony and Tyler are no longer arch-rivals, which is not the most exciting narrative, I know, but at least it’s a happy ending in that they’re now close friends and compete regularly in the spirit of rugby.  

 At Towson, Tyler played for Don Stone, a household name in the Towson rugby scene. When he graduated in 2011, Tyler started playing for the Baltimore Chesapeake Brumbies under Steve Elliott in 2012. He also played with a number of 7’s teams on the side including Schuylkill River 7’s, Atlantis Rugby Club, Philly City 7’s, Negra y Azul, Capital Selects (15’s), Beltway Elites, and Towson 7’s Rugby which was created by a couple of the guys on the TU team, but not promoted through the university. In 2016 Tyler played for the USA 7’s Players Pool at the Olympic level. This same year, Tyler was elected as Captain of Baltimore Chesapeake RFC. Since becoming Captain, Tyler has done more behind the scenes work than most people know about. He claims that there is the President of the Club, the Treasurer, the VP, and various other positions that make the club run smoothly, and the rest just gets put on the Captain. Tyler has planned BCRFC’s Holiday Parties, brought the ball bag to practice, cleaned up after every game, brought jerseys home to clean, collaborated with all of the officer positions to make sure that communication continues to flow. In his words “When something doesn’t get taken care of, I take care of it.”  

As we got deeper into discussing the preliminary questions that I had asked before our interview, it became more and more clear that though Tyler is acknowledged with awards and wins, he still holds onto some things, “Do you know that in all of the years that I’ve played for BC, I’ve won Man of the Match only one time.” This seemed to really bother Tyler. My defense was, “Well you are usually the one that is picking the winner, aren’t you?” To which he shrugged in agreement, but I could tell that it still was bothersome – someone could have figured out how to give it to him when his athletic performance was at its highest on the pitch. This fact is interesting because despite winning Player’s Choice, despite winning Peter Brock – Tyler is still hungry. His competitive spirit doesn’t waiver, and he is his own greatest critic – there is always room for improvement in his eyes. 

As BCRFC’s first Player’s Spotlight candidate, it’s ironic to tell you that since Tyler has been selected and is now starting for Washington, D.C.’s pro-rugby team, Old Glory, Tyler’s current time with BC is coming to an end. Stepping down from captain, and walking away to continue to build his athleticism, character, and skills has always been a goal for Tyler that he has finally obtained. To say that we will miss Tyler is an understatement, but it is also an understatement to say that we’re proud of him.  

All the best Tyler! We’ll keep an eye on you!