Poignant reminder of rugby's fallen war heroes

IT was a great honour to have been chosen to present a wreath on behalf of the UK government at Wales’ National Remembrance Service in Cardiff on Remembrance Sunday.

This year’s day of remembrance was all the more poignant as it was the 90th anniversary of the end of the First World War.

There are very few people alive today that fought in the Great War and so these occasions are becoming increasingly more important to remind us of the sacrifices a generation made for our country.

It was also a time to pay our respects to not only those that defended this country in past conflicts but also a time to send our thoughts to those on active service in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world.

This same weekend Wales played South Africa in the rugby and I think it’s important to remember that Wales lost 16 of its international rugby players during World War I and World War II.

In the First World War, during the battle of the Somme, four welsh international players were lost in the space of 38 days - including Charlie Pritchard who was one of the stars of the team that famously beat New Zealand in 1905.

It is therefore fitting that on the same weekend that we acknowledged the 90th anniversary of the end of World War I there was a minute silence before Wales played South Africa at the Millennium Stadium.

South Africa lost four international rugby players during the Great War and their current captain, John Smit, joined Wales’ captain, Ryan Jones, in presenting a wreath on the pitch as a mark of respect.

Those that bravely defended this country during the First and Second World War weren’t just soldiers; they were everyday people from miners to school teachers or in this case Welsh rugby union internationals.