Twickenham stadium unveils Rose and Poppy Gates

  • Seven members of England's 1914 Grand Slam side died in World War 1
  • Sculptor Harry Gray has incorporated 15 roses at the foot of the gates
A century after England Rugby captain Ronnie Poulton Palmer was killed by a sniper bullet at Ypres, Twickenham stadium unveiled its first ever public memorial to the players who died in the Great War and all in the rugby family who have died in conflicts around the world.

On the eve of the Army v Navy match, a ceremony was held to unveil the Rose and Poppy Gates, which now stand under the West Stand’s gold lion and through which teams will walk en route to Twickenham international matches. 

Seven of that 1914 England Grand Slam-winning team and 1000's of rugby players at every level of the game left rugby fields for the battlefield, never to return. 

As part of the RFU’s commemoration of the World War I centenary, the Rose and Poppy Gates will ensure that they have a lasting memorial at the Home of England Rugby.

Music was provided by students of the Royal Military School of Music and singing was led by Roisin Neligan-Ayling from St Catherine’s School, Twickenham. 

The gates were unveiled by RFU President Jason Leonard OBE and First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Philip Jones KCB ADC, President of the Royal Navy Rugby Union. 

Artist and sculptor Harry Gray has incorporated 15 roses at the foot of the gates, copies of those on the 1914 England shirt, each cast in bronze and representing Poulton-Palmer’s team. They rise into poppies near the top.

The 15th rose on each gate represents the man at the front, and forms the lock.  A bronze bar at head height suggests the point where soldiers went over the top, beyond it the roses become poppies, each made from brass taken from shells fired by German artillery at the Allied trenches.

Among those also present were:  the President Army RU & Chief Joint Operations Lt Gen John Lorimer DSO MBE; the President RAF RU & RAF Deputy Commander Operations Air Marshal Greg Bagwell CB CBE; RFU Commemorations Ambassador Lewis Moody MBE; RFU CEO Ian Ritchie; Twickenham MP Dr Tania Mathias; Richmond Mayor Cllr Martin Seymour; Hounslow Mayor Cllr Nisar Malik; the sculptor of the gates, Harry Gray; representatives of the Royal Navy and Army Rugby Union teams, together with other distinguished guests, descendants of rugby playing WW1 soldiers, local and national charities and residents of Twickenham and Hounslow.