108 known Rosslyn Park players fell in the Great War 1914-18. In the move from Richmond to the present ground in 1955-6, any memorial to them was somehow ‘misplaced’.
The first task was to identify their names, as there is no surviving Roll of Honour. Stephen Cooper, former Youth Chair continued the research started by player Richard Cable and has identified some 108 confirmed names. The project launched an U15 tour to France in 2009 and a twinning relationship with Compiegne, where the Armistice was signed in 1918.
Players came from India, Australia, Colombia and South Africa, as well as all over Britain to fight. They died in corners of foreign fields in France, Belgium, Italy, Turkey, Ireland, Egypt, Greece, Palestine and Mesopotamia. What they all had in common was their rugby at Rosslyn Park.
The story is told in the book, ‘The Final Whistle: the Great War in Fifteen players’. Published by The History Press, winner of the Times Sports Rugby Book of the Year 2013 and available to order on Amazon or at the Serious Stuff shop.
Royalties on club sales go to the Rosslyn Park Injury Trust .
“Stephen Cooper has written a haunting and beautiful book. Here we see the grinding slaughter and the everyday humanity of men hurled into the abyss of modern warfare at its most terrible. His book tells the story of men from one rugby club but it is a universal narrative of heroism and loss. He writes superbly and has produced a book of commendable scholarship. I cannot recommend it enough.” – Fergal Keane
“A fresh and fascinating take on the impact of the Great War with a novel and moving focus” – Ian Hislop.
“Having played against Rosslyn Park over the years, you always got the impression of a friendly welcoming club with a great history. This is a book of sadness and beauty about 15 men who lost their lives for their country. People use the word hero to describe sportsmen, but the guys in this book are true heroes. A fantastic and inspiring read from first to last.” Jason Leonard
“A book of stunning quality… a team-full of heartbreaking stories, each going in different and fascinating directions: poignant and powerful.” – Rugby World
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