A team of staff and Old Sedberghians travelled to Belgium in June to play a commemorative rugby fixture and honour the memory of fallen pupils.

A party of 50 joined the tour to Flanders, where the Sedbergh Old Sedberghian Club XV sported a specially commissioned 1914-style brown rugby jersey.

The match against Flanders XV was won by Sedbergh 43-19, and was played in honour of former Sedbergh pupil Freddie Turner. He captained Scotland and was killed by a sniper in the First World War in January 1915 – one of the fabled ‘lost generation’ of rugby players to die on the Western Front. Watching the game was his 96-year-old nephew Archie Scott.

The Sedbergh party attended a service at St George’s Chapel, Ypres, and laid crosses at the graves of Turner and his great pal Ronald Poulton-Palmer, captain of England, who attended Rugby School and also died in 1915.

Their friendship and sporting rivalry is described as “the stuff of legends”.
In 1910 they both played in the Varsity Match between Oxford and Cambridge, and the rugby ball from that very game was released from Sedbergh School’s archives for the Flanders fixture. In March 1914, the two friends played opposite each other in the Five Nations at Murrayfield, and ran the Wilson Run at Sedbergh on their way South.

Andrew Fleck said: “Our visit to Flanders continued the Sedbergh Pilgrimage to visit the graves of all 257 Old Sedberghians who died in the First World War. On this occasion we honoured four young men who gave their lives in service to their country and, in doing so, brought unity and prosperity to Europe.”

Former England rugby players OS Will Carling and OS Will Greenwood sent messages of support before the fixture. Greenwood described the tour as a “uniquely noble venture” and Carling said he hoped the players would do justice to “the memory of these brave men”.

On Friday 1st July at 07.20, pupils and staff will meet for a short service of remembrance at the Cloisters, in memory of the Battle of the Somme. 25 former pupils fell during that single battle. It will be timed so that we have a silence at 07.30, when the Battle began.

Later on Friday there will be a mid-morning commemoration with the Army CCF, whilst they are out on field exercises. Reverend Paul Sweeting, School Chaplain, said: “This will be poignant for them and we plan to use whistles to mark the start and end of the silence, remembering that whistles were the signal for the troops to go ‘over the top.”

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