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’s (AARU) mission is to promote and develop Rugby Union throughout the Australian Army. In striving to fulfil its mission, the AARU commissioned Doctor Andrew Kilsby to lead a research project and write a ‘highlight’ history of Rugby Union in the Australian Army. The goals of the project were to: recover, reconstruct and document as much of the AARU’s history as possible; Recognise key events, characters, stories and anecdotes about the AARU; and strengthen the understanding of the AARU’s place within the Army.
Significantly, the project identified that the first truly representative Australian Army Rugby Union team was formed in 1919 in France immediately following the Armistice.
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 Rugby Union in the Australian Army. The book includes many of the key matches, results and anecdotes about the sport as it was played in Australia and abroad, as well as in-depth interviews four legendary players - Ian Mackay, Arthur Fittock, Angie Fairweather and Charles Wilson.