Rugby Union Footballers are Doing their Duty. Over 90% Have Enlisted. British Athletes! Will You Follow this Glorious Example?


This World War I recruiting poster, published in London in 1915, shows a rugby player and a soldier side by side, and urges British athletes to enlist in the armed forces. The poster notes that more than 90 percent of Britain’s top rugby players had joined the armed forces and, citing the Times, points out that “Every player who represented England in rugby international matches last year has joined the colours.” Another quotation, “This is not the time to play games,” is from Lord Roberts of Kabul and Kandahar (1832–1914), one of Britain’s best-known soldiers. After a long career in India, Roberts led British forces in South Africa during the Boer War and rose to become commander in chief of the British Army. Roberts long had been an advocate for conscription and for preparing the British people for the great European war that he saw coming, and in the early months of World War I he was a prominent spokesman for military recruitment. He contracted pneumonia while visiting British Indian troops on the Western front and died in France on November 14, 1914. Until March 2, 1916, when the Military Service Act introduced conscription, Great Britain’s World War I army was comprised entirely of volunteers. Many of the most famous wartime posters were recruitment appeals.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Publicity Department, Central London Recruiting Depot, London


Type of Item

Physical Description

1 print (poster) : lithograph, color ; 76 x 51 centimeters



  1. Brian Robson, “Roberts, Frederick Sleigh, first Earl Roberts (1832–1914),” Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).

Last updated: November 14, 2017