On August 13th 1914 the Rugby Football Union issued the following circular to all their clubs:
‘The Rugby Union are glad to know that a large number of their players have already volunteered for service. They express a hope that all Rugby players will join some Force in their own town or county’
The following month the possibility of raising a Rugby Corps was discussed but it was concluded that it was too late as nearly every rugby player in country was already in barracks.
Similarly patriotic responses were recorded around Great Britain and Ireland and in rugby playing nations across the world.
This enlisting circular was issued by the Welsh Rugby Union around the same time. It makes reference to Welshmen’s reputation for ‘patriotism and pluck’ and also refers to their moral responsibilities by advising them not to allow ‘any selfish reason’ prevent them answering the call of their King and Country.
This lost document along with many others was recently discovered in Newport. Newport RFC, the World Rugby Museum and the Gwent County Record Office are working in partnership to ensure that the material is collected and preserved for future generations.
The World Rugby Museum would like to thank Stephen Bennett and Graham Sully for contributions to this piece.