Rugby for Heroes says Thank You to fallen rugby players

The Armistice 100 Bike Ride & Match saw charity patron Mike Tindall MBE join a team of veterans to complete a 300-mile ride from Twickenham Stadium to Compiègne, the site of the First World War Armistice, in just 3 days, followed by a rugby match in honour of our rugby fallen.

55 miles into their 300-mile challenge, Tindall and the team made a stop at The Royal British Legion Village in Kent where they were greeted by the Head of Poppy Appeal, Shane Crowhurst. Village representatives turned out in force to welcome the team who were presented with wreaths and remembrance crosses to lay on behalf of Rugby for Heroes at memorials, cemeteries and graves in Belgium and Northern France.

More than 130 international rugby players and many thousands more club players were killed in the First World War and during the 3-day challenge, the team laid wreaths at Vimy Ridge and Thiepval memorials to say thank you to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. At Lijssenthoek Cemetery, World Rugby Museum curator Phil McGowan spoke of two England rugby internationals - George Dobbs and John Raphael - teammates who were both killed at Messines Ridge and laid to rest just metres apart. At Nine Elms Cemetery, the legendary All Black Captain Dave Gallaher was remembered for the role he played at the Battle of Passchendaele. Tehse were just three of the many rugby players remembered as the team made the journey to Compiègne. 

It was a privilege to ride alongside both currently serving and ex-service personnel from across the forces as we honoured those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in the First World War. It was especially humbling for me to pay my respects to my grandfather’s cousin who fell in 1916 and brought home the sheer scale of the losses; a reminder to us all to remember our fallen this Armistice Centenary year” – Mike Tindall MBE, Patron of Rugby for Heroes.

The ride culminated in a ceremony at the Armistice site in Compiègne followed by a rugby match between a Rugby for Heroes XV, captained by patron Mike Tindall, and a Compiègne XV. The Rugby for Heroes team was complemented by a host of French Legends players, most notably ex-France international Serge Betsen and the final score of nine tries a piece was a fitting end to a commemorative match full of passion and pride.

Powerful, moving and humbling. The Armistice 100 Bike Ride & Match was the first in our series of events to mark the Armistice Centenary and gave us the opportunity to experience the scale of the losses during the First World War. We stand together with The Royal British Legion to say thank you and to celebrate the legacy our fallen rugby players gave us and the values they lived by that continue to be integral to our society today.

To find out more about Armistice 100 commemorative events we have planned, go to www.rugbyforheroes.org.uk.