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RFU chooses CWGC as its Military Charity Partner for 2017 as the Commission marks 100 years of caring for our war dead

27 January 2017

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) is delighted to announce that it has been chosen as the official Military Charity Partner by the Rugby Football Union (RFU).  In 2017 the CWGC celebrates its centenary, marking 100 years of commemorating 1.7 million Commonwealth war dead in 154 countries around the world.

The partnership is an opportunity to highlight the contribution rugby made in the two world wars. Players from all over the world gave up everything to join up and fight. Twenty-sevenEngland Internationals lost their lives during World War One along with many other international players from around the world, the majority of whom are commemorated by the CWGC. 

Announcing the partnership, CWGC Vice Chairman, Sir Tim Laurence said: “Huge thanks to the RFU for supporting the Commonwealth War Graves Commission in our centenary year. Together, we will remember them”.

CWGC Director General, Mrs Victoria Wallace, addedd: "We are delighted to have been selected by the RFU for this privilege in this our centenary year. We hope rugby fans around the world will be inspired to learn more of past players who made the ultimate sacrifice for their countries in the two world wars, and to pay their respects at any of our 23,000 cemeteries and memorials in 150 countries. The CWGC made a commitment in 1917 that the names of these heroes would live forever. Thank you to the RFU for helping us pass on the torch of remembrance to another generation in 2017."

RFU Chief Executive Ian Ritchie said: “Partnering with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission will build on those themes, drawing on the Commission’s work in their centenary year as they celebrate the work of their staff around the world and commemorate the 1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and women who died in the two world wars.

 “We are grateful to the Commission for their help in producing our Rose and Poppy Films and the First World War Exhibition in the World Rugby Museum and hope to grow support for the Commission and encourage the RFU’s member schools and clubs nationwide to remember those who left rugby fields for battlefields never to return.”

Victoria Wallace attended the formal launch of the partnership, along with Vice Admiral Sir Tim Laurence KCVO CB ADC(P) - CWGC Vice Chairman and Ian Ritchie - RFU CEO at Twickenham Stadium on Wednesday 25January at 10.45am.

One story among many

Ronald Poulton Palmer was just one of the Rugby players who answered the call of King and Country. Palmer was probably the most famous rugby player of his day, noted for his ability to play all over the pitch and to swerve past opponents. In 1913/14 he was captain of the England side that won back to back ‘Grand Slams’. Already in the Territorial Force of the Royal Berkshire Regiment, Ronald underwent officer training and was sent to the Western Front in the spring of 1915. On the night of 4th May, Ronald was killed by a single shot whilst supervising a trench working party and was buried in CWGC Hyde Park Corner [Royal Berks] Cemetery at Ploegsteert in Belgium, his death causing national grief.

For more information, contact Peter Francis, Media and Marketing Manager: 07766 255884 or 01628 507163, 

Notes for editors:

1. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission ( #CWGC100)

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) was founded in 1917 with the mission of commemorating in perpetuity the 1.7 million Commonwealth servicemen and women who died in the two World Wars. No distinction is made on account of military or civil rank, race or creed.

The CWGC cares for war graves, cemeteries and memorials at a staggering 23,000 locations in 154 countries. It is funded by six member governments – UK, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Canada and India -- in proportion to their losses.

The CWGC celebrates its centenary in 2017 by launching a new and improved website, which will crowd-source photos and stories via a new Public Archive.

Other events and initiatives for 2017 include:

  • CWGC Friends – a new way to get involved

  • CWGC Centenary Interns programme

  • CWGC Centenary Garden at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

  • The Poppies Wave at Plymouth Naval Memorial

  • Hold High the Torch global event in November

Get to know the Commonwealth War Graves Commission





2. Photo and other credits

Please ensure that all photos, videos and other materials are credited:

Courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission or Courtesy of the CWGC