The CWGC and the Rugby Football Union (RFU) are proud to come together to launch Rugby Remembers – a project which will honour those rugby players who served and died during the First World War.

A hundred years ago, conflict originating in Europe had spread around the world.

In the midst of a ferocious war on land, at sea and in the air, countless men enlisted, eager to be fighting for their King and country, amongst them many rugby players - fit young athletes who would make a vast contribution to the war effort.

Club members often joined up together - and sadly, quite often they died together too.

The Commission announced in January it had been chosen as the official Military Charity Partner by the RFU.

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-seven England Internationals lost their lives during the First World War 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 Victoria Wallace, added: "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 at 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 25 January.

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.