Political Animals & British Army to mark end of rugby league services ban with game at RMA Sandhurst
On May 2 2014, the UK politicians’ rugby league club, Political Animals RLFC, will take on the Army RATS (Race Against Time and Senility) Veterans’ XIII as part of a celebration marking the 20 year anniversary of the ban on rugby league in the Armed Forces being lifted.
2013/14 is also the 25th Anniversary of the Parliamentary Rugby League Group, which was formed to challenge such inequalities in the services and elsewhere. The Animals draw many of their players from the Parliamentary Rugby League Group, with MPs, Peers and Associate Members taking to the field along with local politicians and political and Parliamentary staff.
The Animals v Army Veterans game, which will be played under masters rules at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst , will be preceded by a match between Combat Support (Royal Artillery and Royal Engineers) v Combat Service Support (Royal Logistic Corps and Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers) and followed by a dinner.
The Animals’ club captain is Leeds North West MP, Greg Mulholland, also Chairman of the Parliamentary Rugby League Group. He said: “The Parliamentary Rugby League Group was formed to fight injustices and prejudice against rugby league, including the ban on those in the services playing our sport.
“It seems incredible that playing rugby league in the army was forbidden until as late as 1994 but since the ban was lifted, the sport has gone from strength-to-strength in all the services to the point where the Rugby League Services World Cup could take place in the UK last year and Great Britain could field a strong side.
“The Animals allow politicians to play the game and experience what it means to people and this is a great way to celebrate the work done by all involved over the last 20 years.”
The invitation for the Animals to play was extended by Major General Carew Wilks CBE who said “rugby league an excellent sport for servicemen and women to play, providing the skills and camaraderie needed during intense physical and mental situations. All of us in the Forces who enjoy and value the sport, recognise the work done by the Parliamentary Rugby League Group over the years and I can’t think of a more fitting way to honour that relationship than by a game.”/p>