The All Blacks will wear the iconic red poppy during their match against England this weekend to mark the Centenary of the first Armistice Day.
The team will wear the Royal New Zealand Returned and Services Association (RSA) poppy proudly on their sleeves to mark the day when guns fell silent and conflict ceased after four years of brutal warfare that marked World War I.
This will be the second time the All Blacks will wear the poppy on their sleeves as they take the field at Twickenham, a day before the Centenary Commemoration of Armistice Day.
The poppy, which is known as the Earl Haig design, was designed specifically for New Zealand and has been in use since 1978.
Instead of a pinned poppy, the All Blacks will wear an embroidered poppy on their jerseys to honour those who died in the service of New Zealand and all serving and ex-service veterans.
All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen said, "It's always a proud moment for all of us in the All Blacks when we wear the poppy on the jersey and show our respect to those who've gone before us, as well as all those people currently serving New Zealand in the defence forces."
RSA National president BJ Clark said this small act of remembrance had huge significance to veterans and serving military personnel not only in New Zealand but around the world.
"We are so grateful to Steve and the All Blacks and to New Zealand Rugby for this gesture, and their efforts over the past three years to help make our fellow Kiwis aware of the importance of Armistice Day as a time to remember not only those we lost but all who have served and have come home as changed people," he said.
"Of course, we also wish the All Blacks well on Saturday (Sunday NZT) when they take on England in what will be a significant occasion of remembrance at Twickenham."
The tribute comes after the All Blacks met with the RSA during September to discuss how recent conflicts are affecting the veterans of today and the shared experiences of representing New Zealand on the rugby field and on the battlefield.
A series of video clips featuring highlights of these encounters is being released in the lead-up to this Sunday's 100th Anniversary of Armistice Day to mark this important day of remembrance.
In the first of these conversations released today, 106-Test All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock swapped stories with Mark Compain, a veteran of NZ Army campaigns in Afghanistan, East Timor and Bosnia.
Whitelock talked about his grandfather who was injured during his war-time experience and went on to play rugby for the All Black after World War II.
Compain is the national support services manager for the RNZRSA but engaged with Whitelock as a fellow Kiwi who has represented New Zealand – in a different uniform – overseas.
"It was clear that Sam had a real heart for his Grandfather's war service, and a sense of pride in representing New Zealand as an All Black, no different to mine as a New Zealand soldier," he said.
In the second conversation, Steve Hansen chats with BJ Clark over a beer about the impact of service on veterans and their families; on the needs of modern servicemen and women and on what it means to the All Blacks to wear the poppy on their jersey.
"Steve told me how his family understands service to New Zealand," Clark said.
The two men also discussed the issue of "what happens after service" and the difficulties that both those who have served and All Blacks face when they leave their "team".
Servicemen and women and a retiring All Black both face a very different world when they are no longer directly part of that team environment, and for some that is very difficult.
The final conversation is between NZ Army veteran Danny Nelson, who works alongside Mark Compain as a senior strategic adviser in the RSA's support services team, and All Blacks manager – leadership, Gilbert Enoka.
Their encounter delves deeply into what it was like for Nelson to return home to civilian life having experienced the harsh realities of serving in war zones abroad.
The video clips can be viewed at allblacks.com and on rsa.org.nz
About Armistice Day
Armistice Day is commemorated every year on November 11 to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front.
This took effect at 11 o'clock in the morning—famously the "eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month" of 1918. As a result, a service and a period of silence is typically observed at 11am.
The 11th of November is also recognised as Remembrance Day and Veterans Day in some countries. Armistice Day 2018 marks the Centenary of Armistice and the end of World War I.