NRL to honour the ANZAC's this Sunday

Rugby League will join Australians around the country to remember all those who served their nation in conflict, in a special pre-match ceremony at Sunday’s ANZAC Day blockbuster between the Dragons and the Roosters.

The Sydney Football Stadium has become a gathering point for war veterans and current serving personnel, who after the ANZAC Day March, join thousands of Rugby League fans to again honour those who fought and died for their nation, and to celebrate the freedoms for which they fought.

This year’s pre-match ceremony will start just before 3:30pm and as in previous years, has been developed in consultation with RSL NSW and the Australian Defence Force.

The ceremony will feature a display by members of the Australian Army’s elite Parachute Display Team, The Red Berets, a Blackhawk helicopter from the 6th Aviation Regiment and representatives of the Fuzzy Wuzzy Angels, known for their compassion and care of Australian troops injured in Papua New Guinea during World War II.

“The traditional ANZAC Day match is one of the most moving days on the Rugby League calendar,” NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, said today.

“Rugby League has always had strong ties to the ANZAC tradition and the pre-match ceremony will involve past and present servicemen and servicewomen paying tribute to all those who served their nation in conflict.

“The ceremony will also include messages from our troops overseas and fans can record their own messages to send to our troops, outside the SFS on their way into the game.

“The uniqueness of this match is probably best summed up by Wayne Bennett who has been a part of Rugby League for decades and after being involved in his first ANZAC Day match last year, expressed just how emotional and moving he found it.

“Importantly, this Sunday’s other games – the Raiders against the Rabbitohs and the Storm versus the Warriors – will also include commemoration ceremonies.”

The musical backdrop for Sunday’s ANZAC Day match will be provided by the Australian Army Band Sydney, commanded by Major Peter O'Connor and with Drum Major Warrant Officer Class One Steve Bull, with the band also leading out the 21 Army Cadet Unit, Penrith carrying the Australian and New Zealand flags in unison to mark the bond between the two nations.

Returned servicemen Mr Bill Collier and Mr Ferris Ashton, who played for the Dragons and the Roosters respectively, will be brought on to the field in Australian Army Land Rovers, where they will join NRL Chief Executive, Mr David Gallop, and RSL NSW President, Mr Don Rowe OAM, as part of the official party for the remembrance service before the match.

The Ode will be read by Mr Rowe and the Last Post and the Rouse performed by bugler Corporal Justin Lingard. Australian Army Musician Ms Tanya Christensen will sing the National Anthem, accompanied by the Australian Army Band Sydney

"The ANZAC Day match is becoming a great tradition and is enjoyed by many veterans as part of their ANZAC Day commemorations and reunions," said Mr Rowe.

"It is also a chance for Rugby League fans attending the match to show their respect and to remember the sacrifices and service of Australians."

The game will also include a special post-match ceremony including the presentation of the perpetual ANZAC Cup to the winning team and the Spirit of ANZAC Award to the Man of the Match.

Prior to the game, in the SFS forecourt, Rugby League fans can record video messages of support to send to Australian troops serving overseas, and purchase ANZAC Appeal tokens in support of RSL NSW.

Gates at the SFS open at 1:30pm this Sunday (April 25) with the Toyota Cup match kicking off at 1:45pm, the pre-match ANZAC Day ceremony just before 3:30pm and the main game at 4:00pm.

Returned and current serving personnel are eligible for free entry to the ANZAC Day game, simply by showing their war medals or service pins, or wearing their Defence Force uniform.

General Admission tickets start from $22 for Adults, $15 for Juniors and $55 for a Family of Four, with Reserved Seating from $25 for Adults, $20 for Juniors and $70 for a Family of Four.

Tickets are available through Ticketek on 132 849, at Ticketek outlets or www.ticketek.com.au.