Hall of Fame

Recognizing outstanding contributions by members of the club.

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David (Davey) Brienzo

2010 Inductee.

Davey was a superb athlete. He wrestled in High School and spent his spare time climbing mountains, cross-country skiing, and exploring the outdoors.

His rugby career began in 1976 when he joined the club as a rookie. He played in Milwaukee until 1981 when he moved to Denver, CO where he played for two seasons with the Queen City Rams.

Davey quickly developed into a brilliant, attacking scrum half emulating Garett Edwards who led the Welsh National Team to glory during this period. Indeed, Davey and the whole team got to meet the entire Welsh back line at the time: Phil Bennett, the Williams connection in the centers and JPR at fullback.  Rugby at the world stage was made available to Davey via club tours, and he absorbed it as if it was his natural birth right.

Davey had a creative flair that made him unpredictable in matches and often left opponents confused and struggling to adapt and keep up. Combined with his superb ball handling skills and low error rate, he always made significant contributions around the park.

In addition to his efforts on behalf of the Harlequins, he spent four seasons playing representative rugby as well. During one memorable game at the lakefront in the early 80’s, the Wisconsin Selects took on a Welsh side: Swansea University, the reigning European University Champions.

With only a few minutes remaining in the match, Swansea were ahead by a narrow margin. Davey and teammate (and 2009 Hall of Fame inductee Joe McCook) ran their favorite back row play. McCook took the ball from the back of the scrum, and offloaded to Brienzo who ran through several defenders for the go ahead and winning try.

It was a magical moment and the result of great teamwork.

Although highly skilled on the pitch, Davey was an even better friend and teammate. He and his wife Patty were the lifeblood of the club when it came to social occasions, parties, and non-rugby events.

Quick-witted and a bit of a rabble-rouser, Davey personified the fun-loving, anything-goes off-field rugby culture.

Davey and Patty also helped promote the sport by founding and coaching Milwaukee Women’s Rugby Club, one of the earliest women’s teams in the region.

Davey loved the game, the club, and his teammates, and left nothing on the field. He lived to the fullest in his time allotted.

Tragically, Davey and Patty passed following a fatal car crash in 1983.

Jeff Friedrich

2010 Inductee.

Jeff played in the ’80s at the scrumhalf position and was also a select side player.

His play in the Midwest Junior Cup final in 1985 is still talked about today. A hard-fought match with high scoring on both sides, the match came down to the final few minutes when the club was awarded penalty kick. Jeff slotted the challenge to put the club ahead by a point, and the match continued for a few more nervous minutes.

With the clock in the red, Jeff finalized the victory. When asked about the match, Jeff said “I was never so elated when I kicked to touch as time expired”.

Off the pitch, Jeff contributed to the club greatly, including serving as an officer.

Dan Brienzo

2009 Inductee.

“Papa” Joe Kloiber

2009 Inductee.

Joe Kloiber began his playing career while attending Pharmacy School in Madison at the University of Wisconsin. Upon graduating in 1975, he and his wife Julie moved back to Milwaukee.

Joe — who jogged 3-5 miles each day — quite literally ran a the fledgling band of ruggers from Derry’s Pub while on a jog near his new apartment.

This coincidence “sealed” the success of the club.

Not only did Joe join Derry’s Rugby Club (as the Barbarians were then known), Joe actually knew the Laws of the game! He also brought with him a wealth of information regarding what the actual culture of a “rugby club” should strive towards from his years playing in Madison.

Much of this knowledge was created through UW’s long standing relationship with the Gorseinon Rugby Club. Located in south Wales, several Gorseinon RFC members had played in Madison during Joe’s time there.

As a result, the club formed an ongoing partnership with Gorseinon RFC that opened its doors for the Americans to learn the game of rugby. A tour was planned by the young club in the Fall of 1978 and the rest, as they say, is history.

Joe was a visionary regarding his understanding of how powerful touring was for the growth of the club. Joe organized a total 9 club tours of the British Isles, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia. Invariably, he attended and joined each and every tour.

And if a teammate was short on funds, Joe was quick to reach into his own pocket to help.

Joe served in almost every role in the club over the years from player to coach and from event organizer to president. He spent untold hours organizing all aspects of the club, and promoting and working to grow the sport.

He also organized the very first Lakefront 7s rugby tournament in 1982. The event continues to this day, and has grown into one of the largest and longest-running rugby events in the country, impacting tens of thousands of people.

In 2012, Papa Joe was an early driving force in the decision to re-brand the club from the “Harlequins” to the “Barbarians”. He hoped this would be a path to burying old rivalries and attracting all the players in Milwaukee under one banner. 

In 2023, Papa Joe passed away after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease.

Joe McCook

2009 Inductee.

Joe McCook was one of the club co-founders who, along with Joe Hegarty, birthed the idea of a new rugby club in Milwaukee centered around Derry’s Pub.

As a founder, McCook helped recruit the first team for Derry’s Rugby Club, as the Barbarians were then known.

Joe spent many long hours organizing the club in the early days, but he was also an intimidating presence on the field: big, strong, fit, and physical. Joe played fast and hard, and attacked relentlessly.

Joe led mostly by example, and rarely with his words. He willed everyone around him to play by his unspoken motto: forward ever, backwards never.

He also earned many well-deserved caps for the Wisconsin Select Side and Midwest Selects. His playing resume also includes a starting roster spot for the infamous Midwest All Stars vs. Springboks match in 1981 in Racine, Wisconsin at Roosevelt Park that, due to anti-apartheid protests, drew national media attention.

Joe is a bona-fide club legend, and received many club honors for his efforts on and off the field. He is a four-time awardee of Forward of the Year (1975-1978), and also earned the title Rugger of the Year (1976).

Tim McNulty

2009 Inductee.

Tim was one of the original 15 Harlequins and part of the founding of the club.  

He played multiple positions in both the forwards and the backs initially showing his versatility and athleticism. He then settled in at fullback where he offered excellent defensive skills and could also showcase his offensive strengths by inserting in the line.

Tim played for the Wisconsin Selects at fullback for several years on at least 4 sub-union championship teams in the late 70’s and early 80”s in backfields comprised primarily of Harlequin players. 

Tim was a very powerful runner and when he went into contact with ball, his side invariably came out of the breakdown with possession as a result of his tenacity and strength driving forward on his feet. 

Tim was an elite player but more importantly, also an elite teammate who always was supportive and a positive contributor to team unity and the camaraderie that was a major factor in the club’s early success and growth.

Tim Mcnulty