Tomorrow night the Qantas Wallabies head into battle with their greatest rivals, the New Zealand All Blacks, with The Rugby Championship trophy on the line at Sydney’s ANZ Stadium.
The two teams have also united to use the occasion to mark 100 years since the infamous ‘August Offensive’ battles at Gallipoli, in particular the battle of Lone Pine which cost the ANZACS over 2,200 casualties.
The Australian Rugby Union has joined forces with the Australian Defence Force and New Zealand Defence Force to deliver a range of activity to commemorate the centenary of these battles prior to kick off in this year’s opening Bledilsoe Cup clash.
The anticipated 70,000-plus crowd at ANZ Stadium will see an army band performance, guard of honour, and delivery of the Ode, the Last Post, Moment Silence and the Rouse as part of the commemorative service.
This week marks 100 years since the August Offensive on Gallipoli from August 6-10, 1915. After months of stalemate, Australian, New Zealand, British and Indian troops attempted to break the deadlock on the peninsula by launching a series of assaults against the Turkish strongpoints. It was hoped that these attacks would lead to a decisive victory.
The ensuing battles were the largest and most costly in the eight-month-long Gallipoli campaign. All the allied attacks ended in heart-breaking failure and produced heavy loss on both sides. Many of the sites of the bloody struggle – places such as Lone Pine, The Nek, Chunuk Bair, and Hill 60 – became sadly familiar names in Australia and New Zealand.
Seven Victoria Cross were awarded to Australians for fighting during the August Offensive, and New Zealand’s efforts to successfully capture the heights at Chunuk Bair has forever been etched in the country’s history.
Australian Rugby Union CEO Bill Pulver said: “We are tremendously proud to join the Australian and New Zealand Defence Forces to pay tribute to those who served their nation during these significant and costly battles at Gallipoli.
“Around 5,000 Australian Rugby players enlisted for service abroad and many of these men did not return home.
“Before the players take the field for the Bledilsoe Cup clash at ANZ Stadium we will commemorate the battle of Lone Pine and Chunuk Bair, remembering the service and sacrifice of the young Australian and New Zealanders who valiantly fought and gave their lives for their country. Lest We Forget.”