New website focuses on recruiting, highlights history.

It’s a new year, and so we thought it a perfect time to launch our new website!

If you’ve been here before, you probably already notice some changes, but we’ll highlight a few important items from our perspective.

For context, here is what the homepage of our websites have looked like over the years:

Our website – over the years..

Expanded focus on recruiting & volunteers.

One of the hardest things to do in a rugby club is to recruit new players to the sport. So the new site has a number of callouts to our Try Rugby signup form.

But we also have a number of other recruiting goals: club volunteers and financial benefactors for example. To help with recruiting in these areas, you’ll find a dedicated menu item called Get Involved. This menu item helps site visitors find all of the ways to contribute to and follow Barbarians rugby.

Or if you want some help finding a role, we list all of our opportunities here.

Mobile first, but desktop ready.

The rise in popularity of smartphones has long meant that the web needs to look great no matter the screen size. So back in 2012 we switched to a “mobile first” mentality (see screenshots above).

In 2016, we took this a step further by “hiding” nearly the entire menu in a small button at the top-right of the site. In other words, we had the same “hamburger menu” available for mobile and desktop users alike.

In retrospect, this probably made it a little difficult for some users to find our content.

So the new site takes a more balanced approach. As shown below, the hamburger menu is still in use for small screens, but a more traditional top menu is displayed on larger ones.

A comprehensive library of match results.

This past season, I was asked many times whether or not our undefeated 2023 record was a club milestone. As it turns out, you need very good record keeping to answer such questions!

So we spent some time digging through the archives and now have a comprehensive account of all our matches going back to the Spring of 2000!

We plan to put all these in a database so we can do some analyses. Until then, feel free to relive your glory days in the match results area!

Over 200 blog posts!

Once we started looking back for match results, all kinds of other content was discovered. For example, the very first club honors were awarded on November 30, 1975! Not surprisingly, “Papa Joe” was the first Rugger of the Year.

In 2009, we defeated the Chicago Lions for the first time in a decade. And in 2011, long-time match secretary Jim Harings chronicled our New Zealand tour.

Of course, the sad passing of our alumni was also noteworthy in the archives. For example, the tragedy of Phillippe Leka — who suffered a fatal injury during a match — stands out as a painful reminder of the importance of honoring our past.

In all, over 200 blog posts have been published. These newly discovered posts were also a good source of photos which we’ve incorporated throughout the new site.

Finally, a great search tool!

Both mobile and desktop users have access to a good tool to search our site. It can be found at the top-right no matter the screen size.

Sometimes, using the search tool is the fastest way to find what you’re looking for. Try these sample searches for “tour” and “Ireland” to see what I mean.

More history of the club.

With a lot more content on hand, we’ve been able to improve the written history of the club. While there is still more to discover, we have for the first time a solid, written timeline of our rugby club.

It tracks our first few months as a pub-team, our promotion from division 3 to division 1 (and back to division 2!), our foray into real estate, and of course the two name changes in our history.

You’ll even find lots of team photos and a complete list of our accomplishments and our tours.

This history is a work-in-progress, so be sure to let us know if you find any errors.

We’ve also added some content that have long been needed: our Hall of Fame and In Memoriam pages. These are both very early drafts, but we will formalize and expand them throughout the year.

A switch to hosted financial services.

Before starting to build the new site, a major focus was to simplify the technology we were using, and make it accessible to more people such as the Treasurer and other officers. Additionally, keeping these softwares updated and functioning required a lot of volunteer hours and technical expertise.

As such, we decided to retire the self-hosted eCommerce system that we were using for apparel sales, monthly donations and player fees.

We now use a hosted donation platform for nearly everything, including player fees, sustaining memberships, and even corporate sponsorships. It is very reliable, easy to use, and requires no maintenance.

For spirit wear, we also use a hosted solution. In addition to not needing maintenance, products are printed in real time, which means there is no inventory to manage, and no store deadlines.

We still use Venmo quite a bit for some of our fundraisers and events. So we built a page that is easy to remember and use on any device: milwaukeerugby.org/venmo.

A team effort, on and off the pitch.

Marketing a rugby club is no easy task. A website that is up-to-date and accurate is an important part of that effort and requires a group effort.

For example, events and matches have to be organized. Scores have to be recorded and match reports written. Events are published on our club calendar, and photos are taken and shared on social media.

Over the years, we’ve had many people contribute to our website, and it’s important we acknowledge them.

Site developers & maintainers
  • Rich Carpenter
  • Vic Drover
  • Jim Harings
Content providers
  • Ty Ash
  • Rich Carpenter
  • Todd Chini
  • Joe Cunningham
  • Collin DeOcampo
  • Vic Drover
  • Tom Fossell
  • Jim Harings
  • Jeff Hoffman
  • Wil Hoskins
  • Joseph Kloiber
  • Mike Loader
  • Ben Nirschl
  • Art Sears
  • Pat Sharpe
  • Jermey Swick
  • Nick Vigder

This list is not exhaustive, but it’s essential that we continue to recruit more content providers going forward. If you’d like to get involved, please drop us a link on the contact page.

Vic Drover
Vic Drover

Vic has a long history in and around the sport of rugby both in Canada and the US. He has played for and started numerous clubs (Vandal's RFC, Strathcona Druids, Suffolk Bull Moose, West Side Harlequins, Milwaukee Barbarians, Hamilton Girls Rugby), and served many roles over the years at all administrative levels. Vic joined the Harlequins in 2007 and remained an active club member through the transition to the Barbarians. These days, he spends his rugby time playing tag rugby and touring with the Old Boys, keeping the club website updated, helping organize the Lakefront 7s, and fundraising.

Articles: 199