A monument celebrating the lives of the 54 Leicester Tigers players who lost their lives in conflict and acknowledging longstanding links with the armed services has been unveiled at the club’s iconic home.
The Leicester Tigers Foundation Monument, installed on the plaza between the Tigers’ Mattioli Woods Welford Road stadium and the new Hotel Brooklyn, features a bronze tiger head on a four-metre column carrying the names of the past players.
It also recognises the close ties between the Leicestershire Regiment and the Tigers since the club’s formation in 1880, displaying the names of its players who served and survived.
The 54 names of The Fallen include Alexander Obolensky, the Russian prince who played for Tigers and England in the 1930s but lost his life on RAF service; England international Frank Tarr who fell at Ypres in 1915; Victor Beamish of the famous Irish rugby family; and the earliest Tigers casualties dating back to overseas conflict in the late 19th Century.
The names of Tigers who survived global conflict are also carried on the Monument, including Guy German, who played 66 times for the club in the 1920s and was later senior British officer among prisoners at Colditz as a Lieutenant-Colonel with the Leicestershire Regiment.
Peter Wheeler, former Leicester Tigers captain and director, and a Past President of the Rugby Football Union, performed the Monument’s official unveiling with guests from the game of rugby, the military and the local community.
Leicestershire Regiment representatives included Major-General Anthony Pollard CBE DL, Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony Swallow OBE and Captain Bob Allen MBE, alongside Leicester Tigers Foundation trustee Vice Lord-Lieutenant Murray Colville; the Revd Canon Emma Davies, the Canon Precentor and Canon Residentiary at Leicester Cathedral, who led the ceremony and provided a blessing; and Monument sponsor Ian Mattioli MBE.
Rory Underwood MBE, who served as an RAF pilot during his rugby-playing career with Leicester and is still England’s record tryscorer, was joined by current players Ollie Chessum and Harry Simmons plus David Needham from the Tigers Wheelchair Rugby Team and Vicky Macqueen of the club’s women’s rugby programme, and past players Paul Dodge, Ian Smith and Martin Whitcombe.
Children from Fossebrook Primary School in the city represented the local community at the unveiling.
Supporters who helped to fund the Monument with donations for commemorative crowns and have their names added to its base were also invited to share the occasion.
The Monument is the work of designer Harvey Spencer Gardiner and artist Steve Winterburn, using history and heritage to connect with communities and inspire positivity in the future.
This iconic installation faces directly at Ypres Cloth Hall, an area where several Tigers players lost their lives, and hosts a QR code to tell more of the story while providing a focalpoint to inspire engagement with sport through the Leicester Tigers Foundation’s work in the community and to initiatives with the Royal British Legion, Combined Services and War Graves Commission.