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Rugby League Players Commemorate Lives Lost In WWI

Rugby League players, officials and fans have commemorated those who lost their lives in World War I at the Cenotaph in central London.

Rugby League players, officials and fans have commemorated those who lost their lives in World War I at the Cenotaph in central London.

The event takes place every year ahead of the Challenge Cup Final, Rugby League's oldest competition. 

Representatives from the UK Armed Forces, Rugby Football League and the All-Party Parliamentary Rugby League Group all gathered at the Cenotaph to pay their respects. 

Chris Hill (middle) against Wigan Warriors (Picture: PA).
Chris Hill (middle) against Wigan Warriors (Picture: PA).

The two captains from the two Challenge Cup finalists, Catalans Dragons and Warrington Wolves, laid commemorative wreaths. 

Warrington Wolves captain, Chris Hill, said: "My grandad fought in the World War, so thinking of times like that, they've (WWI soldiers) put their body on the line - we only play 80 minutes of rugby and everyone thinks we are heroes but the true heroes are the people that died there."

The Cenotaph.

Catalans Dragons' head coach, Steve McNamara, said: "We get the opportunity to do some things tomorrow (Saturday) at Wembley, play in a final - we do that because we got given the opportunity, by these people of a number of years, who served our country and enabled us to be free." 

Rugby League has long-held a link with the UK Armed Forces, with the annual ceremony being reintroduced in 2013.

Flight Lieutenant Damian Clayton from UK Armed Forces Rugby League, told Forces News: "It's massive really, because we reinvigorated it five years ago.

"Rugby League, as a sport, used to pay their respects in the late 1930s and it stopped but we rejuvenated it, and I think as a sport to pay our respects to the servicemen who've given the ultimate sacrifice is an enormous gesture and something the sport needs to do."

Rugby League fans also watched on as players and coaches, paid their respects with organisers hoping the ceremony will continue to grow for years to come.