Great War commemorations

The RFU is organising a four-year programme of events and activities to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the First World War.  The activities are based around the themes of remembering, educating and fundraising. Please continue to check this page for more details on how you and your club can get involved.

The RFU is playing an active role in commemorating the First World War by undertaking a number of major projects as well as delivering activity that has seen the RFU supporting national commemorations events for Somme 100 in France, England Team’s wearing the Poppy on the shirt for Remembrance Weekend and the launch of the RFU Rose and Poppy Film Series.   

Military Charity Partner

The RFU is pleased to be able to appoint a Military Charity Partner for each of the four commemoration years.  In 2017 the RFU is delighted to partner with the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) as the celebrate their centenary, marking 100 years of commemorating 1.7 million Commonwealth war dead in 154 countries around the world.

The RFU, in partnership with CWGC, are encouraging rugby clubs and schools to share their rugby history and explore the hundreds of UK based CWGC sites through #RugbyRemembers

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 CWGC’s 23,000 cemeteries and memorials in 150 countries. You can use the CWGC research tool to find details of players or family members lost during the two world wars.

Great War Memorials

As a lasting remembrance, ‘Forever England’, an oil on linen painting by Shane Record depicting the last England team to play before the outbreak of the First World War was unveiled in 2014 and sits in in the Spirit of Rugby.

In 2016, a century after England Rugby captain Ronnie Poulton Palmer was killed by a sniper bullet at Ypres, the RFU 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 2016 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.

Rose and Poppy Film

The Rose and the Poppy Film Series was commissioned by the RFU to tell the story of rugby and the Great War; from the rugby pitches to the battlefields.  Focusing on how the Great War impacted rugby communities, the stories of rugby heroes and the bonds between rugby, rugby values and the military, Lewis Moody, ex England Rugby international and RFU Great War Ambassador, narrates the films and amongst others interviews ex England Rugby internationals Martin Johnson, Neil Back and Rory Underwood telling the stories of three rugby internationals from 1914 -1918; Ronnie Poulton Palmer, John King and Cyril Lowe.


Remembrance & Research

We are remembering all the rugby players who died in the Great War and supporting the remembrance of clubs and schools who lost players. Among the thousands of fallen players were 27 England Internationals. The World Rugby Museum, Twickenham which will reopen later this year has various exhibitions commemorating the 27.  You can read more stories from the whole rugby family on the World Rugby Museum blog or by following World Rugby Museum on facebook or on twitter to learn more about the rugby players who fell in the Great War. 

The RFU wishes to honour the memory of all rugby players, of whatever level, who died or served in the war. Please let us know by emailing  or if you have any relevant information relating to clubs or individual players.

Education Resources

The RFU has a suite of education resources to support schools and teachers deliver the national curriculum utilising rugby resources and rugby’s core values.  The England Rugby Teacher Resources have a number of First World War modules including lesson plans that have engaging new video content from The Rose and the Poppy Film Series.

Armed Forces Covenant

The RFU has a proud history of supporting the Armed Forces which culminates in the RFU hosting the annual, capacity crowd Army v Navy fixture.  The RFU is  proud to be a signatory of the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant and seeks to uphold its principles and deliver against our commitments.