On 8 November 2017 the men of UK Armed Forces Rugby (UKAF) will play their annual Remembrance fixture taking on Bristol for the first time in 47 years, while UKAF’s Women return to Cardiff to play Wales in a fixture that falls 100 years after the first Women’s match in mainland Britain.
After three happy year’s in Bath the UKAF Men’s team are back on the road again. It has been nearly half a century since UKAF last played Bristol, with the last match falling on 9 November 1970 when Bristol ran out narrow winners, the match finishing 14-15. With Bristol coming off the back of seven wins in a row, UKAF will have to adjust quickly to new opposition and the setting at Ashton Gate Stadium if they are to succeed. By contrast the Women’s fixture at Cardiff Arms Park in Wales is now well established and the UKAF players will look forward to returning following a heavy defeat last year, with memories of the 14-14 draw in 2015 to sustain their confidence.
The UKAF teams – best described as the Lions of Service rugby – are drawn from the best players in the three Services: Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force and represent the pinnacle of rugby sporting achievement in the Armed Forces. As always, the Women’s team are likely to boast a number of current, former and future international players, with the men’s squad drawn from those military players performing at the highest standards of club rugby, while Bristol and Wales both plan to field highly competitive sides demonstrating their on-field respect for their opponents and recognition of the fixtures’ wider significance in the rugby and Remembrance calendars.
Since 2014 each of UKAF’s Remembrance matches has focused minds on the centenary of the First World War. This year’s Remembrance match falls 100 years after the end of the battle of Passchendaele (the third battle of Ypres, 31 July – 10 November 1917). At the battle’s end in November 1917 an estimated 245,000 allied casualties (dead, wounded or missing) had fallen in 103 days. The on-field Remembrance ceremony will honour the memory of the fallen at Passchendale, and all those who have fallen in service to Great Britain.
The women’s match also commemorates 100 years since the first Women’s rugby match in Wales and mainland Britain. The match, played on 16 December 1917 between Cardiff Ladies and Newport Ladies at Cardiff Arms Park was in aid of War Charities for those away fighting in the First World War (Newport won the match 6-0) Women’s team sport more broadly, and rugby specifically, grew out of the camaraderie of the munitions’ factories during the war, producing rugby players like Maria Eley, the Cardiff Ladies full-back who played in the first game aged 17, and was recommended as a candidate for the first woman ever to enter the World Rugby Hall of Fame. Maria died ten year’s ago in 2007, and many at the match will also take a moment to remember her pioneering efforts on behalf of women in sport.
Echoing the purpose of that first Women’s game in Wales 100 years ago, both matches this year will be played in support of the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal. UKAF will hope to raise even more than the c.£10,000 collected at last year’s Remembrance fixtures.
With UKAF attracting record crowds at both Men’s and Women’s matches in recent years, and more pre-match entertainment planned at both games for 2017 fans can look forward to a fantastic atmosphere and some excellent rugby, following the always poignant on-pitch act of Remembrance ahead of kick-off. Check out @UKAFRugby on Facebook and Twitter for ticketing and match updates.
UKAF Men play Bristol on 8 November 2017 at Ashton Gate Stadium, kick-off 7.45pm, tickets: adults £6, under-12s £2 available in advance online by clicking here
UKAF Women play Wales on 8 November 2017 at Cardiff Arms Park, kick-off 7.30pm, tickets available on the gate.
UKAF(W) will host a media day with photo, filming and interview opportunities between 0930 & 1100hrs, 6 November 2017 at their training camp at HMS Temeraire Burnaby Road, Portsmouth. In the afternoon of the same day, the players will visit the D-Day Museum at Southwick Park from 1400-1600hrs. Media are again welcome to join our players for this visit by advance arrangement. All media are encouraged to attend but for security reasons must register in advance by emailing Wing Commander Keith Dear at firstname.lastname@example.org providing the names of all attending, their affiliation, vehicle make, model, colour and registration number and an estimated time of arrival. Note that attendees will need photographic ID for access on the day, usually in the form of passport or driver’s licence photo card. Attendees who do not register and/or do not arrive with suitable photo ID cannot be allowed access.
Match day media access at both Cardiff & Bristol is by advance arrangement only, either direct with the stadia or via email@example.com.
Men’s training dates and media access remain TBC.
To arrange interviews or for further information, again please contact Wing Commander Keith Dear at firstname.lastname@example.org
Images available from our online archive at http://ukafrugbyimages.com
Yours in Rugby,
K P Dear | Wing Commander | Royal Air Force | email@example.com | www.ukafru.com | Twitter & Facebook @UKAFRugby