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WRL remember their fallen internationals

9th November 2018, 07:45

WRL remember their fallen internationals

Wales Rugby League will be paying respect this Sunday to their two international players who lost their lives in the First World War.

A two minutes’ silence for Remembrance Day will take place before the decider for 2021 Rugby League World Cup qualification between Wales and Ireland at the Racecourse Stadium in Wrexham (3pm kick-off).

The two Welsh international rugby league players who lost their lives during the 1914-18 conflict were William George Thomas and Phillip Thomas.

George Thomas was heritage #8, meaning he played in the first ever full international rugby league match anywhere in the world when he turned out as prop for Wales in their 9-8 win over New Zealand on January 1, 1908 in Aberdare. He also played against England in 1912, kicking a goal in Wales’ 35-5 defeat.

His one Great Britain appearance came in their second ever match, an 18-6 defeat to New Zealand at Stamford Bridge, Chelsea.

Originating from the Newport rugby union club, he played for Warrington for 11 seasons, making 385 appearances, scoring 47 tries, kicking 191 goals and seven drop-goals.

Signing up for war in 1915, he sadly died on the Somme on July 3, 1916 when he was hit by a German shell. He is now remembered in the Thiepval Memorial in France.

Phil Thomas was heritage #14, winning the first of his four Welsh rugby league caps at centre in the country's second ever international, a 35-18 win over England on April 20, 1908 in Tonypandy. His three other Welsh international matches all ended in defeat - twice to England and once to Australia - with the latter in the second Kangaroo tour of 1911/12.

He also made one Great Britain appearance in the third test against New Zealand in 1908 in Cheltenham, ending in an 8-5 defeat.

Originating from the Tredegar rugby union club, he turned out for Oldham, Leeds and Hull Kingston Rovers in the professional game.

Phil died on May 25, 1915 on the fields of battle in Belgium and he is remembered in the Ypres (Menin Gate) Memorial in that country.