Melton RFC play their part in Great War centenary memorial match

Former Leicestershire county president Brian Hesford with Melton RFC Colts Oliver Plowman (left) and George Morgan-Jones Picture: Griff Morgan-Jones EMN-181114-124006002
Former Leicestershire county president Brian Hesford with Melton RFC Colts Oliver Plowman (left) and George Morgan-Jones Picture: Griff Morgan-Jones EMN-181114-124006002
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As the nation came together to remember the fallen, Melton RFC played its part in a special sporting memorial for the Armistice Day centenary.

Melton fielded four players in commemorative matches organised by the Leicestershire RFU to mark 100 years since the guns fell silent in the First World War.

The county body joined forces with the Royal British Legion to organise a memorial rugby match between a representative Army team from the Royal Corps of Signals and Leicestershire ex-servicemen.

Melton RFC have enjoyed a long and fruitful association with the armed forces, with its playing ranks bolstered over many seasons by military personnel based in the town with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps.

Current Melton RFC players Chris Budd and Paul Whelbourne joined the ranks of the Leicestershire Servicemen team, while Colts players George Morgan-Jones and Oliver Plowman, a cadet sergeant, lined up for a Leicestershire U18s XV against a Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College XV.

Chris, a former lance corporal, said: “It was a privilege to be a part of such an important occasion and was very well organised.

“I feel proud to say I was involved in what I see as a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, there will only ever be one opportunity to mark 100 years since the Armistice and the end of the Great War.

“We all want to have an opportunity to play again because it was so much fun.”

Melton RFC president Tony Middleton was among hundred of spectators who supported the memorial event, along with clubmate and former county president Brian Hesford.

Brian said: “It was really good and a lot of people were there to support the armed services.

“We are part of the Leicestershire RU and we take part in as many of their events as we can.

“Supporting worthwhile events causes like the Poppy Appeal is a big part of what being in the wider rugby family is all about.”

The day raised more than £3,000 for the appeal with the tally to grow throughout the season before the final donation is made to the RBL at the county cup final next May.

Remembrance is felt keenly at Melton RFC, particularly following the death of former player Liam Tasker, a dog handler with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, who was killed, aged 26, while serving in Afghanistan in 2011.

His former side, the Nomads, take on a team from the Defence Animal Centre (DAC) in an annual challenge match for the Liam Tasker Memorial Trophy.

Last Sunday all of the club’s junior age group sides held a two-minute’s silence at their Burton Road home as the bells of St Mary’s Church chimed 11 on the poignant day.

“We have always had links with the RAVC so it was important to support them in any way we can,” Brian added.

“We have had soldiers playing for us all the way through and we still have the Liam Tasker Memorial Game every year so there are very strong links with that.”

* Leicestershire RU have joined forces with Akuma to produce a limited edition supporters polo shirt mirroring the design of the commemorative playing shirts.

The shirts, which feature a silhouetted battlefield scene from the Great War, are available in men’s and ladies sizes at £35, with all profits going directly to The Poppy Appeal.

For details of how to order, visit