Rugby League to pay its respects to War heroes
Rugby League will pay its respects to the servicemen and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice in armed conflict over the last 100 years by laying five commemorative wreaths during a ceremony at the Cenotaph in London on Friday (11.00am).
The ceremony will be attended by representatives from 2014 Tetley’s Challenge Cup finalists Castleford Tigers and Leeds Rhinos, the RFL, the Great Britain Armed Forces and the Parliamentary Rugby League Group.
RFL Chairman Brian Barwick said: “In this, the year which marks the centenary of the start of the Great War, it is entirely appropriate that Rugby League honours all those who have lost their lives in the field of war.
“It is also fitting that this ceremony, which is to become an annual event, takes place on the eve of the sport’s most traditional showpiece occasion, the Challenge Cup final.
“Many Rugby League players made the ultimate sacrifice during the Great War, and our sportsmen and women have given great service in every conflict since, and we are proud to have this opportunity to pay our respects and reflect on the debt we owe them all.”
Warrant Officer Damian Clayton MBE, who will host the ceremony, said: “We used to do it as a sport annually up until the 1940s. I was quite instrumental in getting Rugby League to pay our respects again – I am very honoured.
“This is an opportunity for Rugby League to play its part in commemorating the centenary of the Great Wars – the newer generations will see the new conflicts and campaigns over the last couple of decades but we can’t ever forget the Great Wars.
“We have a number of Rugby League players who have been awarded the highest accolade as military personnel. The former Hull FC player John “Jack” Harrison VC being one, he died in battle and won the Victoria Cross.
“Given the relationship that Rugby League has with the Armed Forces, it is timely that we can now, as a sport, pay our respects.”