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RFU sorry over use of Victoria Cross on England kit

England's rugby union governing body has apologised "to those who may have taken offence" to the use of the Victoria Cross on the national side's new playing kit.

England's new Canterbury-manufactured shirts feature Victoria Cross designs that comprise numerous small rubber grips to help deaden the impact of the ball.

The new England kit features numerous small Victoria Cross designs. Credit: PA Wire

Victoria Cross Trust chairman Gary Stapleton criticised the Rugby Football Union (RFU) for having had no contact with the organisation over using the emblem on the kit, which was officially launched earlier this week.

Stapleton said the move "touched a raw nerve with a lot of people."

In a statement, the RFU said:

We would like to apologise to those who may have taken offence with our new kit. It was certainly never our intention to cause this.

We are huge supporters of our service personnel and respect and value their support for England.

We will be contacting the Victoria Cross Trust and the Victoria Cross and George Cross Association to see how we can support their worthwhile work going forwards.

– RFU statement

The Victoria Cross, the British and Commonwealth armed forces' most prestigious medal, has only been awarded 1,354 times during its 158-year existence, most recently in 2012.

The new white England shirt will be worn for the first time when the side begin their autumn Test schedule aganist world champions New Zealand at Twickenham on November 8.

Survey finds First World War knowledge lacking

The move to commemorate the centenary of the start of the First World War may prove useful as a reminder to a large number of Britons who remain decidely sketchy about the conflict.

A survey suggests many people's knowledge of the war blurs easily with World War Two.

More responders apparently thought Germany invaded Poland - as was the case in 1939 - than Belgium in August 1914.

Nine percent of people thought Winston Churchill was prime minister at the start of the conflict - the same number than correctly knew it was Herbert Asquith.

Embarrassingly, 1% of the 1,955 adults quizzed by YouGov for thinktank British Future thought Margaret Thatcher was PM in 1918 and 3% believed Britain and Germany fought the war on the same side.

Competition to design paving stones for VC heroes

Each paving stone will also have a QR reader, which people can scan using a smartphone to reveal details about the recipient. Credit: Edmond Terakopian/PA Wire

A national competition will be held to design the centenary paving stones which will be placed in areas of the UK where Victoria Cross recipients of the First World War were born.

There will be 28 stones unveiled next year to commemorate medals awarded in 1914, and other stones will be unveiled each year up until 2018.

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles, announcing the competition, said: "Laying paving stones to mark these Victoria Cross heroes will ensure that there is a permanent memorial to all the fallen who fought for our country."

He added the stones would "help residents understand how their area played its part in the Great War, and ensure memories of that sacrifice for British freedom and liberty are kept alive for generations to come."

Events to mark centenary of Britain's entry into WWI

The centenary of Britain's entry into the First World War will be marked with a series of special events on August 4 next year, including:

  • A service of commemoration will be held at Glasgow Cathedral for Commonwealth leaders (a day after the closing ceremony of the Commonwealth Games).as
  • A ceremony will be held at a cemetery in Mons, Belgium, where men believed to be the first and last Commonwealth casualties of the war are buried.
  • A candlelit vigil will be held at Westminster Abbey at the end of the day with the last candle extinguished at 11pm - the moment war was declared.

Other events include a programme allowing two pupils and one teacher from every state-funded secondary school in England to visit the battlefields of the Western Front.

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Paving stones to honour First World War heroes

British infantrymen marching towards the front lines in the River Somme valley in 1916. Credit: PA Wire

First World War heroes will be honoured with paving stones as part of plans to the mark the centenary of the conflict on this day next year.

Special commemorative stones will be laid in the home towns of every soldier awarded the Victoria Cross for valour "in the face of the enemy" during the four-year war.

War memorials across the country will also be restored ahead of August 4 2014, while candlelit vigils and a service of commemoration attended by Commonwealth leaders will also be held.