After the Final Whistle

Rugby players were amongst the first to volunteer in August 1914. They led from the front and paid a disproportionate price. When Armistice came after four long years, rugby – with its values of teamwork, respect and discipline forged and tested in war – would be a return to a new life for those who had fought.

In 1919 serving soldiers, from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, as well as New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, USA, Canada and France came together to play the game they loved. Their bonds of comradeship forged on the battlefield were now strengthened on the rugby field. It was a moment of triumph: a celebration of military victory, of Commonwealth and Allied unity.

This is the story of rugby’s journey from the last pre-war international in April 1914, through to wartime games and culminating in the declaration of rugby’s first ever ‘world champion’ and winner of the King’s Cup in 1919.