Rugby Union is a sporting code that has been played by generations of service people since the earliest days of Australia’s armed forces.
The story of Rugby Union in the Australian Army is an important component of the Services rugby tradition, and indeed an integral part of the history of the code itself in Australia.
The Australian Army Rugby Union has produced two books about its rich history.
In the Field and On the Field: A Highlight History of the Australian Army Rugby Union
Rugby Union is a sporting code that has been played by generations of service people since the earliest days of Australia’s armed forces. The story of Rugby Union in the Australian Army is an important component of the Services rugby tradition, and indeed an integral part of the history of the code itself in Australia.
The AARU’s ethos is based on the Army’s values - courage, initiative, teamwork and respect – and the history clearly demonstrates that it has and continues to be a central feature of the sport in the Australian Army. Indeed, the Army’s values have been shaped by competition in sports like Rugby Union for over a century.
The history highlights the players, teams and events that have contributed to the development and successes of the Australian Army Rugby Union. It includes many of the key matches, results and anecdotes about the sport as it was played in Australia and abroad.
The history includes interviews with Ian Mackay, Arthur Fittock, Angie Fairweather and Charles Wilson and contains a large number of photographs - most in colour.
In the Field and on the Field is available from Echo Books.
Comrades in Arms and Rugby: The remarkable achievements of the 1919 Australian Imperial Force Rugby Union Squad
In early 1919 the call went out across the 160,000 strong Australian Imperial Force (AIF) based in Europe – ‘the war is over and it’s time to get back into rugby’. The word went down the chain of command of five battle-hardened divisions - ‘We need your best. There’s a different kind of battle to be fought before we go home.’ Across France, Belgium and the United Kingdom rugby teams played for the honour to represent their units, then their brigades, then their divisions and finally to represent the AIF.
This is the story of how the 1919 AIF Rugby Union Squad was formed, and how and where they played in France, the United Kingdom and in Australia. The teams were the first truly representative teams from across the Australian Army of the day.
The 1919 AIF Rugby Union Squad played twenty-eight matches across the United Kingdom before returning to Australia and playing an additional eight matches. Across these games, the squad members established a reputation for hard but disciplined rugby. They played not only for their country but for the many mates they had lost during the war. Any sense of survivor’s guilt was expressed in playing rugby as hard and fast as you possibly could.
The Australian Army Rugby Union traces its origins to the 1919 AIF Rugby Union Squad. The AARU not only embodies the spirit of the 1919 AIF Teams, but it also continues to build on their tradition of wartime resilience, tenacity and teamwork.
Comrades in Arms and Rugby is available from Echo Books.