In the run-up to Remembrance Day, Bristol Rugby CEO Steve Gorvett and all of Bristol Rugby will once again be going the extra mile to ensure that the club pays respect to our fallen troops.
Bristol Rugby’s history is closely entwined with that of the military, with many of the club’s former players fighting in conflicts from World War One up to the present day. Indeed, the club’s former home at the Memorial Stadium is dedicated to the memory of local rugby union players from the city killed during the First World War, and the gates are inscribed with a message to those men that made the ultimate sacrifice for their country:
“1914-1918: In proud and grateful memory of the services rendered to their country in the Great War by rugby football players of Bristol, this ground was established 1921.”
“1939-1945: And in the World War of 1939-45, the rugby football players of this city gave their services and their lives. To them also this ground is a memorial.”
Every year since their move to Ashton Gate, Bristol Rugby’s players and staff return to their former home on 11 November for a Remembrance Service and lay wreaths at the Memorial Gates alongside Bristol Rovers football club, local combination clubs, and town representatives.
Bristol play Sale Sharks that evening back at Ashton Gate, where there will be a minute’s silence and local cadets in attendance.
And Gorvett is proud that Bristol Rugby continues to honour its fallen men, given their importance within the club’s history:
“There are 52 local combination clubs in Bristol in addition to ourselves, Bristol Rovers, and local schoolchildren who attend the Remembrance Service at the Memorial Stadium,” said Gorvett. “We all lay wreaths so it is a very meaningful event.”
“Usually three or four hundred people are there at the gates paying their respects. The gates always form the centrepiece of the service, and there is an inscription to remind everyone about the rugby players from Bristol who sacrificed their lives over the two wars.
“It’s such an important event in the history of our club; the ground was given as a memorial to the soldiers that fell, and even if we are no longer there, we don’t want to forget that.
“It’s a vital part of our history so the service will hopefully continue at the memorial gates for a long time to remember the conflicts our men have been involved in here in Bristol, right through to the modern day.
“The service is during the day and then we play that evening so we will have a minute’s silence as normal before the game at Ashton Gate and we had a collection for The Poppy Appeal at our Aviva Premiership Rugby game against Sale Sharks two weeks ago.”