The Rugby Queen of our Hearts

The Rugby Queen of our Hearts
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In the most humble and respectful tone, Last Word on Rugby wishes to recognize and to honour the passing of the Monarch. A woman who some would see as the ‘Rugby Queen of our Hearts’.

In doing this, firstly a reflection on the Queen who was to the majority, a constant leader and figurehead of the Commonwealth and throughout the World. The rugby world will feel the loss of Queen Elizabeth II, as will the individual who felt in their own way, a sense of loss for a woman who reigned for 70 years.

The long reign of the Queen corresponds to many significant moments in rugby history, the familiarity of the rugby Queen and royal family seen on the landscape of the sport, where ceremony and celebration of many moments can be well appreciated with the awards handed out proudly by her Majesty.

And with a new King, the sport of rugby must hope that King Charles III plus his enthusiastic sons, continue the association with rugby union. His sons are already patrons for both the England Rugby Union (RFU) and Welsh Rugby Union (WRU). Often seen when those nations compete, their inclusion in past and future celebrations looks certain.

1991 – Rugby Queen hands over Webb Ellis Cup

Many will recall the second edition of the Rugby World Cup, played in England. It was the follow-up to the groundbreaking tournament held in New Zealand, where the IRB Chairman (now World Rugby) awarded the winning captain with the trophy. On her home soil of Great Britain, it was a perfect fit when the rugby Queen was present for the Cup final; England v Australia.

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While the outcome did not go the way of her English subjects, her Majesty was sincere and regal in the way she congratulated Nic Farr-Jones and his jubilant Wallabies.

It would then be eight years before fans again were joyed by the presence of the Queen for the final of the 1999 Rugby World Cup. Played in Wales, England, and in France, this tournament was more cosmopolitan and the two finalists included co-host France. Les Bleus had a large number of supporters on hand; especially after knocking out New Zealand at Twickenham.

Yet again though, the Australian team would triumph, and again the enlightened smile and charisma that the Queen always displayed, was shown when awarding the Webb Ellis Cup to captain, John Eales (see main photo).

2003 – welcome triumphant England to Buckingham Palace

Only four years would separate her involvement in another Rugby World Cup moment – this time, a much more celebratory moment. In 2003, the royal family would play host to welcoming home the triumphant England rugby team. Martin Johnson and coach Clive Woodward brought their side to Buckingham Palace for an official ceremony.

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Young Prince William looked especially pleased to be around players who he might see as Legends. Johnny Wilkinson, who kicked the winning drop goal was honoured, as was the entire squad. Woodward would be knighted for his participation, with Johnson and Wilkinson awarded the CBE.

And the freshly appointed Prince of Wales has continued to represent the royal family at rugby matches. He and his brother Harry are patrons of the WRU and RFU respectively. Wife Catherine has more recently been involved in community rugby charities and was shown in a promotional visit, being lifted in a rugby lineout.

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King Charles III will naturally be an honoured guest at more events; like the 2025 Rugby World Cup to be hosted by England.

Yet in this somber time, recognizing how respected and well-liked the Queen was. A figurehead across her realm, but just as revered in France, the United States, and many other peoples around the globe. Now they will share the grief just as strongly as many others around the world. Rugby fans included, who will sincerely miss their Rugby Queen just as much.

RIP Queen Elizabeth II (1926-2022)

 

“Main photo credit”
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