Rugby and The Great War
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The Great War Remembrance

Rugby and The Great War

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A time to play, a time to remember


Born in England in 1823, rugby developed significantly during the First World War: many rugby players enlisted during the conflict, bringing the sport with them to France.

As a result of the deadly fighting, many of these rugby players were killed in action, particularly on the Somme. As part of the Rugby World Cup, we invite you to follow in the footsteps of these men and pay tribute to them.

Mémorial néo-zélandais de Longueval© Somme Tourisme
Mémorial de Thiepval© Somme Tourisme - Gary
Longueval contexte historique
Caterpillar Valley cemetery à Longueval@Somme Tourisme

Events calendar

  • April to October 2023 - Exhibition "The evolution of sport since the Great War" at the Pays du Coquelicot Tourist Office.
  • 15 August to 05 November 2023 - Exhibition "In the scrum, rugby during the First World War" at the Sir John Monash Centre
  • Thursday 7 September 2023 - Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery and Sir John Monash Centre

5.30pm to 6.30pm: Meeting with Michel Merckel, author of the book "14-18, Le sport sort des tranchées".

7pm to 7.45pm: ANZAC commemoration, in memory of the players Herbert Jones, William George Tasker (Australia) and Robert Stanley Black (New Zealand) and all the 133 internationals, rugby players and soldiers who died during the First World War.

Cimetière britannique© Somme Tourisme - Nicolas Bryant
Commémoration au mémorial Sud africain de Longueval© Somme Tourisme - AC
Cimetière britannique© Somme Tourisme-Nicolas Bryant
  • Friday 8 September 2023 - Coliseum d'Amiens (Rue Caumartin, 80000 Amiens)

7pm to 7.45pm: Lecture by Michel Merckel: "The emergence of rugby through the Great War".

9.15pm to 12.15am: Giant screen broadcast of the opening match of the France-New Zealand World Cup, live from the Stade de France.

  • Friday 15 September 2023 - Thiepval Memorial

10am: Guided tour of the Thiepval Memorial with a focus on the rugby players commemorated.

  • Friday 29th September 2023

​Both commemorations have been cancelled. Thank you for your understanding.

11am to 12pm - Thiepval: British commemoration at the Thiepval Memorial, in memory of Edward John Richard Thomas and Horace Wyndham Thomas (Wales), Eric Milroy and Rowland Fraser (Scotland), Rupert Edward Inglis, John Abbott King, Lancelot Andrew Noel Slocock and Alfred Frederick Maynard (England).

3pm - Longueval: Scottish/South African commemoration at the Longueval South African Memorial in memory of Eric Milroy (Scotland), Tobias Moll (South Africa) and all 133 internationals, rugby players and soldiers who died during the First World War. - AC

Photo de rugbymen (Vignacourt)©Vignacourt14-18

Rugby players buried or commemorated in the Somme

  • Thiepval Memorial: Eric Milroy, Rowland Fraser, Rupert Edward Inglis, John Abbott King, Edward John Thomas, Horace Wyndham Thomas, David Watts, William McFadzean, Alfred Frederick Maynard, Lancelot Andrew Noel Slocock
  • Caterpillard Valley (New Zealand) Memorial Longueval: Robert Stanley Black
  • Méricourt-l'Abbé Communal Extension: Tobias Moll
  • Dernancourt Communal Cemetery Extension: Frank Reginald Wilson
  • A.I.F Burial Ground Flers: Hebert Jones
  • Villers-Bretonneux Military Cemetery: William Georges Tasker
  • Corbie Communal Cemetery Extension: John Lewis Williams
  • Daours Communal Cemetery Extension: Roland Elphinstone Gordon
  • Roye New British Cemetery: Harold Augustus Hodges

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Museums and places of interest

Musée Somme 1916