August 31st 2007
England's RWC squad, management and coaches will be paying their respects at two WWI war grave sites on Thursday September 6th. The squad will be en route to their hotel in Lens for their first RWC pool match against the USA Eagles on Saturday, September 8th.
The England squad will visit two sites in the Somme region. The first site, Mansell Copse near Mametz contains a large number of English soldiers who lost their lives on the first day of the Battle of the Somme and the, second at the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing of the Somme, where over 72,000 soldiers are commemorated. Amongst these are four England rugby internationals.
The guide for the squad will be Paul Garlington a historian and school teacher at Stonyhurst St. Mary's Hall, whose former pupils include the Ex-British & Irish Lions, England and Harlequins centre, Will Greenwood.
A total of twenty-seven England rugby internationals lost their lives in WWI, including the Grand Slam Captain of 1914, Ronnie Poulton-Palmer.
A further fourteen lost lives in WWII, including the 1913 Grand Slam Captain Norman Wodehouse.
England Head Coach, Brian Ashton said "On behalf of the whole squad we feel it is important to visit the grave sites to pay our respects to all the brave soldiers who lost their lives fighting for their country. I'm sure it will be a moving experience for everyone."