All Blacks tak­ing re­spect to field with our own poppy

The RSA is proud that New Zealand’s own ver­sion of the flower will fea­ture in the test against France, writes B.J. Clark

Weekend Herald - - Bring On The Weekend -

At 11am to­day, many New Zealan­ders will fall si­lent and re­flect on the end of con­flict in World War I and the ser­vice of Ki­wis in mil­i­tary ser­vice around the world. We will be join­ing mil­lions of peo­ple around the world who stop to re­call the tragic losses suf­fered in wartime and the ser­vice of those in the armed forces.

It is a quirk of his­tory that we New Zealan­ders typ­i­cally fo­cus our re­mem­brance around An­zac Day while most of the world has a ma­jor em­pha­sis on Ar­mistice Day.

It is a re­sult of the late de­liv­ery of pop­pies to New Zealand in 1922 that we have our ma­jor Poppy Ap­peal in April while the rest of the world dons the poppy in Novem­ber.

This Ar­mistice Day, early to­mor­row New Zealand time, the All Blacks will for the first time wear the RSA New Zealand poppy on their sleeve when they take the field at Stade de France in Paris to take on France.

While the All Blacks have for many years hon­oured our fallen with the wear­ing of a tra­di­tional poppy, it is the first time they have adopted the New Zealand poppy and we are grate­ful for their sup­port.

It is the sec­ond year in a row that the RSA and All Blacks have joined forces to re­mind New Zealan­ders about the im­por­tance of Ar­mistice Day.

Ar­mistice Day, which is also known as Vet­er­ans Day and Re­mem­brance Day in some coun­tries, is a time when we can re­mem­ber not only those brave Ki­wis who faced the hor­rors of the two world wars, but all those vet­er­ans who have served their coun­try in a long list of de­ploy­ments around the world right up to the present day.

In the past month, the dan­gers of mil­i­tary ser­vice have been brought home to us through the tragic death of Sergeant Wayne Tay­lor dur­ing a train­ing ex­er­cise off the Coro­man­del Penin­sula.

It is the RSA’s role to care for and sup­port all those who have served New Zealand and their fam­i­lies, such as Sergeant Tay­lor’s fam­ily.

This is why we are keen to see New Zealand em­brace Ar­mistice Day as an­other time when we can stand to­gether and salute those peo­ple — vet­er­ans young and old; cur­rent ser­vice­men and women; and the fam­i­lies of all those in the mil­i­tary, es­pe­cially those who live with and face dif­fi­cul­ties from the ef­fects of that ser­vice.

The All Blacks reg­u­larly hon­our those in ser­vice, es­pe­cially when tour­ing the North­ern Hemi­sphere where so many Ki­wis served with dis­tinc­tion and sac­ri­ficed so much.

It is a liv­ing con­nec­tion for the team, com­ing just a month af­ter the 100th an­niver­sary of the pass­ing of the 1905-06 Orig­i­nals cap­tain Dave Gal­la­her, who was killed in the Bat­tle of Brood­seinde, part of the hor­rific cam­paign for Pass­chen­daele.

In all, 13 All Blacks were killed in ac­tion dur­ing World War I and an­other seven in World War II. Those num­bers are repli­cated in rugby clubs, work­places, com­mu­ni­ties and schools across New Zealand. It is a legacy of New Zealand’s ser­vice to the world. Kieran Read and the 2017 All Blacks side will sport the RSA New Zealand poppy on their sleeve in Paris to­mor­row.

We are also hon­oured that the Kiwi side will also wear the RSA poppy on their sleeve when they take on Tonga in the Rugby League World Cup in Hamil­ton later to­day.

Through­out to­day, wreath-lay­ing cer­e­monies will mark Ar­mistice Day at the Na­tional War Memo­rial in Welling­ton and at other lo­cal war memo­ri­als through­out New Zealand. As part of these cer­e­monies, two min­utes’ si­lence is ob­served at 11am in mem­ory of those New Zealan­ders who died while serv­ing their coun­try.

As is tra­di­tion around An­zac Day, Ki­wis are en­cour­aged to wear a poppy in re­mem­brance this Ar­mistice Day.

To­gether with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, cap­tain Kieran Read and all the team, we are invit­ing all Ki­wis to stand to­gether and share in this mo­ment — to pause and re­flect on all those Ki­wis who served in that war and ev­ery op­er­a­tion since; in­clud­ing those serv­ing in our armed forces to­day.

B.J. Clark is the pres­i­dent of the New

Zealand Re­turned and Ser­vices As­so­ci­a­tion (RSA).

Pic­ture / Pho­to­sport

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