Home' Army News : October 13th 2011 Contents Remember the fallen: care for the living
Legacy would like to thank the sponsors of the
2011 John Holland Defence Charity Ball held on
Saturday 10th of September. With your support
Legacy can continue to care for the widows and
young families of our deceased veterans.
Army October 13, 2011
ARMY rugby can now trace
its origins back to World War
I when thousands of rugby
players enlisted in the 1st
Australian Imperial Force (AIF).
Army rugby's vice-president for sup-
port Col Marcus Fielding, who joined
the AARU management committee last
year, said they originally believed Army
rugby began in 1931.
"We had documents that referred to
1931," he said.
"But, we couldn't work out the sig-
nificance of that date and decided to
look into it.
"We now believe the first representa-
tive match was played in England in
1919 when the first AIF team played a
"The team was drawn from across the
AIF and played matches in France and
England before returning to Australia the
At the end of the war, while waiting
to return to Australia, leaders in the AIF
decided to organise sport as a way of
keeping the troops occupied and encour-
aging them to stay out of trouble.
"When the Armistice was signed
in 1918 it was going to be a long time
before troops could be returned home, so
sport became the order of the day," Col
"Australian soldiers loved their sport
and they took the opportunity to play
matches whenever they could while
Research revealed that the AIF field-
ed a first XV team and a reserve XV
team in 1919 -- both went on to represent
"Both teams played a number of
matches throughout England and both
won the majority of their matches," Col
"The reserve XV team performed
particularly well. Captained by Lt Billy
Watson, they went on to win nine of 12
matches and became the first team to
defeat Llanelly on its home ground.
"It's tremendous to learn how well
the first representative Australian Army
rugby teams performed at the interna-
Within the two teams, 14 players
were former Wallabies, one was a former
Waratah and one a former Kangaroo.
"It was not surprising to learn that a
lot of talented sportsmen joined the AIF,"
Col Fielding said.
"Sadly, many of them were killed or
injured in the war. But there was still an
enormous amount of talent to form two
tremendous teams in 1919."
Col Fielding said the research team
had discovered all sorts of interesting
facts and stories which were being cap-
tured in a highlighted history.
"We hope to have the information
collected by the research team published
sometime next year and make it avail-
able on the Army rugby website."
Army Rugby is looking for anyone with associa-
tion records, trophies, memorabilia, photos, and
history of any kind. It is also trying to locate Jody
Connolly. If you can help, contact Andrew Kilsby
on 0408 342 795, email andrewkilsby@cooee
history.com or go to www.armyrugby.org.au
As the inaugural 2011 Defence Rugby Cup gets
underway, Cpl Zenith King takes a look at the
history of Army rugby.
Kicking for touch
in rugby history
First teams: Some of
the first Army rugby
players (above) and
representatives of some
of the teams that played
matches at the end of
WWI in the UK (right).
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