School’s rugby players pay tribute to fallen counterparts from century ago

The 1913-14 Campbell College First XV, half of whom died in action during World War One
The 1913-14 Campbell College First XV, half of whom died in action during World War One

The Campbell College rugby team has paid a poignant tribute to their counterparts from 100 years ago – half of whom were killed in action in World War One.

It comes ahead of their Danske Bank Schools Cup semi-final on Tuesday and forms part of an historical project called ‘The Men Behind the Glass’.

The First XV rugby team at Campbell College Belfast poses with portraits of their counterparts who died in WWI

The First XV rugby team at Campbell College Belfast poses with portraits of their counterparts who died in WWI

As part of that project – and with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Public Records Office – the Belfast school is refurbishing portrait photos which have graced the walls of the college’s Central Hall for almost 100 years of 127 pupils and a teacher who died in service in WWI.

One archive picture of the 1913-14 First XV rugby team taken just months before the outbreak of WWI tells a tragic tale – with half of the teenage team members and one of their coaches among those who never returned from the battlefields.

The current team has posed with portraits of their war dead counterparts.

Headmaster at Campbell College, Robert Robinson MBE, said: “We thought this was a poignant way to bring these photos to life and show their modern-day relevance.

“To realise that within months of the 1914 photo being taken, the boys from that team would go on to witness the horrors of WW1 and half of them would lose their lives is a very sobering thought.”