Saracens scores for South African Legion

Volunteering for The Poppy Appeal at a top-flight Saracens rugby match in London held deeper significance for some South African veterans.


The Collection Crew
The Collection Crew

South African Legion – a military veterans group in the UK – marked their formal association with The Royal British Legion (RBL) last weekend at Saracens’ Allianz Park stadium by volunteering to support the RBL Poppy Appeal.

To its credit, Saracens Rugby club underscored its strong South African connection by inviting SA Legion to its new stadium in North London, which proved a great setting for the Legion’s inaugural fund-raiser.

Organiser Steve Moritz said, “Volunteering for The Poppy Appeal at a top-flight rugby match held deeper significance for some SA vets.”

One veteran was overheard saying, “These okes go into battle each week boet, they put everything on the line for their team, club and supporters, but when the final whistle blows on that player’s career, quickly becomes ‘yesterday’s hero’ which is k@k bru but we know from our own experience that some okes definitely need support so those injuries don’t constrain them from living a full life.”

He added, “The Poppy Appeal offers soldiers, past and present, injured in training or conflict, with that vital something.” By now quite animated, the vet muttered a word unprintable, and added, “We owe them that, at least!”

A number of South Africans are currently serving with UK Forces so the SAL fundraiser also offered the vets an opportunity to show solidarity to fellow countrymen.

Saracens climbed into Bath for most of the first-half but got pegged back in the second. Nevertheless, a home win ensured the warm welcome and generosity of a mostly partisan crowd, helping raise £500 for the vital charity.

SA Legion will hold Remembrance Day parade on 10 November, as last year, conducted at The Commonwealth Gates, behind Buckingham Palace. All are welcome.

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Photos: Theo Fernandes and Oisin Branley