Monthly Archives: March 2012

Rec Faithful Should Approve of Ben Clarke (MkII)

They have seen a lot of Ben Clarke at the Recreation Ground, Bath. The former British Lion and 40 cap England International had two stints playing for the club during which time he was also Captain.  However at well over 6 foot and a shade under eighteen stone the contrast with the diminutive, exciting young Navy winger couldn’t been more stark.  However the Bath crowd has always had a knowledgable eye and are appreciative of good rugby.  Hopefully they will get the opportunity to see the balanced running skills of the the young Ben and appreciate that even as rugby players are getting bigger and more powerful there is still room for players of agility, speed and skill.

Ben Clarke Making an outside break against the RAF U23


Looking to off load in Senior XV win over Cambridge UNiversity


The side selected to play Bath can be found here.  It is good to see the Royal Marine’s newest Sgt back from his professional training and packing down at No 8.

Gaz Evans Returns to Navy Colours


The Navy side will be looking to build on their winning performance against Irish Defence Forces whilst learning the lessons from the match with Esher.  For the Bath United side their last match was in February when they turned over their visitors, Worcester Cavaliers, who included Navy Winger Josh Drauniniu in their ranks.  A full match report of this game is here.

Proud Heritage

Which ‘first’ did the Royal Navy Rugby team help Bath Rugby celebrate in 1975?

Sultan Win Portsmouth Area Cup

HMS Sultan squeezed past HMS Heron 14 – 13 in an enthralling cup final at Burnaby Rd.  Their two early tries to take a 14 – 3 lead were enough as they defended with great commitment and always looked to play with the ball in hand.

Committed Defence

Committed Defence

Committed Defence

Ball in Hand

Ball in Hand

Ball in Hand


A full album if images from the Portsmouth Area Cup Final can be viewed by clicking here.

Round Up

Royal Navy Mariners

On the same evening the Mariners played their final match before the 2012 Inter Services.  They took on a youthful Taunton side and though they went down 21 – 12 showed an improved performance from their previous game.  Next up is the Royal Air Force at Navy Rugby’s US Portsmouth home when the Mariners are the second game on the day of rugby (18 April 2012).  First up are the Women at 14:00, the Mariners take on the Vultures at 16:00 before the Seniors finish the day at 19:00

Royal Navy President’s XV

The recently formed President’s XV played their first fixture a couple of weeks ago when they played a Middlesex XV.  Played the day after the Senior XV played the Irish Defence Forces the team gives opportunities to those on the fringe of higher honours.  The game was full of enterprise with both sides looking to move the ball.. Middlesex proved the stronger side and deserved their 42 – 14 win.

Royal Navy Rugby League – The Brothers

A special mention must go to the Brothers.  After their excellent win against Leigh Miners they were drawn away from home against Hunslett Hawks for their third round cup match. Although the match was to prove the end of the Brothers’ Carnegie Challenge Cup run they must be extremely proud to have run the Hawks so close.  A full match report can be found here.

Next Week

Tuesday 3rd April sees the Senior XV play their final warm up match before the capped games begin and every match is a cup match.  It is the first time that the Navy has been at Bath’s famous Recreation GRound for many a year, the last team to have played there being the Royal Navy U23s some four season’s ago.  With the pitches firming up it will no doubt be a fast and furious test of the credentials of the the players as they seek selection for the final three games.

Proud Heritage Quiz

Before I ask the next question in the quiz the eagled eyed amongst you will note that Bob Armstrong’s Select XV has now been posted and can be viewed by clicking here.  For those of you who know Bob you will see that he has selected a side in his own image.  The pack has power, physicality, strong ball carriers and would certainly front up to any task set.  Behind the scrum the defence would be rock solid and I believe would pose a few tricks and surprises in attack.

Proud Heritage Question

Which former Navy player was arrested trying to get in to an England v Wales match free of charge at Twickenham and how did he mange to get in free of charge to an England game the following year?



Run Silent Run Deep – Answer

The capped Navy player who was also a full England International with the Chariots claim to fame is Captain Geoffrey Sladen DSO DSC Royal Navy.  He has been added to the Navy Great Players page and all his details can be found by clicking here.

He also has a second claim to fame, which was to bring a reindeer back to the UK from Russia on board his submarine HMS Trident.

Great Players Updated

I have added four more players to the Navy Rugby Great Players page.  They are Sladen as mentioned above along with three more from the most capped players in Navy Rugby history list.  The three are Bob Armstrong, Paul Livingstone and Nick Bartlett.

Bob Armstrong Dream Team

The next dream team in the selection is from the most capped player in Navy Rugby history, Bob Armstrong and will be posted on Monday.

Army Complete Match Preparations

The Army played their last match before the 2012 Inter Services Rugby Championship with a narrow 27 – 25 defeat in the Mobbs Memorial Match.  Full report can be found here (Army) or here (Northampton).  The Mobbs Memorial Match used to be played between the Barbarians and the East Midlands Rugby Union but has now been taken on by the Army Rugby Union.  Navy Rugby’s Dave Pascoe and Greg Barden both played in the final Mobbs Match involving the famous Barbarians clubs

Three U23 Head Coaches in Mariners Team

Neil Evans

When the Royal Navy Mariners took on HM Prison Service the team had two former Navy Rugby U23 Head Coaches starting and when Doc Cox came on, from the bench, to join Neil Evans and Owen Salmon there were three.

Owen Salmon

With Navy Women’s coach SamCuff preparing the RN(W) for their late match against Trojans and Mike Connolly and Dave Sibson on the touchline being joined by current Navy Forwards Coach Clayton Patilla, Head Coach Ash Coates and current Navy Director of Rugby Andy Kellett there was obviously a forum for a Navy Rugby Representative Coaches convention.

Doc Cox

Simon Says?!

Game stops for a game of 'Simon Says?1'


Face in the Crowd – but out of Rig of the Day

Navy Winger Josh Drauniniu seems to have lost his team kit?

Preparations Nearly Over

With less than a month before the Senior XV and the RN(W) play their French counter parts in Toulon and Navy Rugby hosting round two of the Inter Services at Burnaby Rd on Wednesday 18th April time for preparations is rapidly running out.

The Mariners have one fixture left, against Taunton, before they meet the RAF.

Navy Mariners v HMP


They will be looking to build on some of their work up front against HMP where there was some typically committed play up front.

Mariners face Taunton and then the RAF


with some strong ball carrying.  First up in the Inter Services will be the RAF Vultures who have had a mixed season.  Their results can be viewed here.  The Army have their final run out against the Richmond Heavies on 30th March.

RN Women

However before the Mariners start their Inter Services campaign the Women will be travelling with the Seniors to Toulon to face their French counter parts.

RN(W) No 8 - Paula B-S


The battle of the back rows looks to be particularly interesting with both sides having experienced units.  Navy captain Charlie Frederickson, flanker Charlie Lewis and P B-S will need to have their wits about them against a strong looking french outfit led by their own Number 8 Katy Mikolackzyck and supported by French A player Amadine Vaupre.

RN(W) v Trojans

In what, in many ways, was the pick of the three RN matches last week.  The RN Women’s team will be looking to build on their very good performance in defeat against Trojans but know it will be a touch encounter in Toulon.

Strong Defence


They will need another totally committed performance in defence but also look to build on their running game in attack.



It will certainly be a good work out prior to their match against the RAF(W) who play the Doncaster Knights on 28th march as part of their preparations.


Along side the Women, at the Stade Mayol, Toulon will be the Senior XV who will travel to France after they play Bath at the beginning of April.  They will then return to play the RAF who lost heavily in the final Inter Service run out against Northampton A.  The Army also have a couple of games to go.  They next play against a select XV in the Mobbs Memorial match before travelling to Portugal for their warm weather training camp and their game against the RAF on 11 April.


Mirror Mirror – The Gauntlet Accepted


Remember the Cambridge Game?  See Varsity Double for an image sequence of Navy winger Andy Vance being caught from behind.  Well the sign of a great sportsman is to rise to the challenge and last night he opened the scoring with a super counter attack from deep having been put away by Navy Eight, Ian Cooper.

Mirror Mirror

On the Wall

Whose the fastest of them all?









No one's catching me this time


Try Time - Andy Vance

The Early Play

Despite the final score the early play was dominated by IDF possession and excellent Navy Defence with all the players working hard and being very committed to their roles.

Early Defence from the Navy was sound









Plenty of numbers around the ball carrier


Good technique


Tag Team Tackle from two of the FRUC

Often with players eager to get over the ball


IDF repeatedly meeting a Navy Blue wall











And the Tries Kept Flowing

Vance scored the first followed by……………..

Darren Bamford









Jorgi Q


Dale Smith









Jorgi Q again









Josh Drauniniu


A second for Andy Vance









and the final try for Josh Drauniniu


The Navy Again Had Good Tempo and a Good Running Game


Ben Clarke



Tom Davies


N Huntley










My Man of the Match

The champagne went to Jorgi Q however for me the most important contribution lay elsewhere.  Early in the game the IDF enjoyed some good possession.  Time and time again their continuity was disrupted by one player.  My MOM was Sam Laird.  Special mention must go to Dale Smith, fresh from Submarine ops who put in an excellent and probably lung bursting 80 minutes and at least he doesn’t where garish boots like some hookers have been known to!

Sam Laird pilfering more IDF possession


A full match report can be found on the Navy Rugby website by clicking here.  A full gallery of photographs is available here.

Navy continue with their Inter Service preparations away to Bath 3 April.  Before then Mariners play Taunton on 28th March.









First ‘Dream’ Team Selected

Mike Connolly’s Navy Rugby Select XV

The first of the invitational dream teams has been selected and can be found on its own page @ ‘Royal Navy Invitational Select XV’.  The first side has been chosen by current Navy Mariners Head Coach Mike Connolly as recognition of forty years of delivering results as player and coach for Navy Rugby.  Some great names in the side.


Inter Services Build Up Continues

As the season hurtles to wards the Inter Services and the Army Navy finale all three Services are ramping up their preparations.  Like the Navy the Army will be looking at the causes of their defeat at the hands of Worcester Warriors.  Worcester’s match report and picture of Navy Winger Josh Drauniniu in full flow can be found here.

Josh Drauniniu taking life seriously in Dubai for Navy Sharks

Josh was on the score sheet in the 27-10 victory.

The RAF are in action next week when they travel to Northampton for a game.  Later in the month they take on Navy Rugby’s next opponents Irish Defence Force so they will no doubt be taking a keen look at Thursday game at Burnaby Rd.  This is a slightly earlier than normal kick off at 19:00 and is always a hard physical encounter.

If Thursday is a bad night for you then there is a double bill of Navy Rugby action at Burnaby Rd the night before.  At 17:00 the Mariners take the British Police and this game is followed at 19:30 when Navy Rugby’s Women team play against Trojans.  In answer to a question I set last month this match (lets hope it goes ahead) will be the first time when RN(W) capped players will appear on the team sheet.  See here for back ground.


Don’t Forget the French

The first capped game of the season is 11 April, in Toulon, when both the Seniors and the Women take on their counterparts from the Marine Nationale.  Preparations are going well in the South of France and this week their men play two matches against Narbonne and also Toulon’s Espoirs (A team).  Their women are also in action against Genevillois who play in the French Federations second division.  A great day of rugby in Toulon beckons.


Barden Continues to Lead England

Greg Barden England Sevens Captain

England have announced a couple of new players in their England Sevens Squad which continues to be led by Royal Marine Greg Barden.  The team fly out for the annual Hong Kong Sevens (which is held 23-25 March) later this week and then will go on to Japan for the next leg of the iRB HSBC World Series Sevens.


You will note from the RFU’s press release that Army player Isoa Damu Damu is not traveling to Japan.

Damu on England Sevens Duty

Navy Rugby followers are likely to see him back in his Army shirt before the Army Navy match, Twickenham 28 April.


Proud Heritage – Run Silent Run Deep

One for the submariners this time.  In the Second World War manned torpedoes (chariots) were used.  A capped Navy Rugby player and England International has a notable claim to fame linked to the use of these Chariots.  Who was he and what is his claim to fame?


Coming Next

I will be posting images from all three games next week as well as publishing the next dream team and hopefully adding a couple more names to the Navy Rugby Great Players.




First Defeat but Plenty to Build On

It was long night for the Navy team as once again this fixture provided the crowd with end to end excitement.  Both teams selected mix and match sides and neither team could break down each other’s defence for the most of the first quarter.  Hover having fallen behind to an unconverted Esher try the Navy hit back immediately with a well worked try for outside centre Darren Bamford.

Darren Bamford Breaks for the Navy Try









His chosen line cut past two Esher defenders

With neither able to lay a hand on him

Before heading under the posts

to score. Skipper Dave Pascoe converted.









Though the Navy team would be unable to get any further scores there were a number of positives for the coaching team to take away.



Jorgi Quarnivalu



Without the experience of Marsh Cormack in the starting line up big Jorgi Q had for me his best match in a Navy jersey offering himself frequently as a ball carrier whilst also under taking more than his fair share of defensive work.



Early line out ball secured by Jorgi Q


Strong ball carrying


Support play


Inside Defence


High Work Rate - More ball carrying work



Jon Humphrey



Another player who is growing in stature with each game. Jon often proved to be an effective counter attacker from Esher’s kicking game but unfortunately did not always have the support to keep the required continuity.



Jon had to deal with a number of high balls

and often returned the ball with interest

either through his kicking game

or his running game

he also worked hard in defence


Jon Humphrey looks to break the tackle









On Going Development



Senior debut for Foster



Vakalutkali continues to improve



as does Sam Laird



My man of the match Jon Humphreys with Sam Laird and Q running him close

Proud Heritage Answers

Doc Cox - back from Ops

First of all great to see that the Mariners doubled up the Senior sides win on Wednesday night.

You will see that the match report mentions the ‘dream coaching team’ of Mike Connolly, Dave Sibson and Doc Cox.  Some experience there and in that light I will be tapping in to Mike Connolly’s 40 years of front line Navy Rugby experience next week when I publish his Navy Dream Team.

Having already seen the draft there are some truly great names in the line up.

The last three Navy players to be capped at International level in the XV-a-side game are (in reverse order);

Jamie Caruana (Malta – 15 Caps)

Kyle Mason (Malta – 22 Caps ?)

Charlie Lewis (Scotland Women – 1 Cap)

Though Charlie has the notable claim to fame of the Navy’s first female international the  statistic I was looking for belongs to Jamie who with his trusted left boot kicked the first drop goal in Maltese International Rugby history.


Varsity Double

Final Score 15 - 31 another good Navy victory

For only the second time in my Naval career (26 years since you ask) the Navy senior side competed the double over the Varsity Blues. If the home win over Oxford (10-0) @ Burnaby Rd was a stop start scratchy affair then this was a belter. A 31-15 win away from home in a performance graced with fluidity, strong defence and sound set play. All any team can hope for is to improve from game to game. In two weeks this was a giant step forward for the Navy as they look to the 2012 Inter Services, a hard fixture away to the Marine Nationale in Toulon and of course the season finale, the Army v Navy match at Twickenham.

Dave Pascoe scoots down the blindside

Pops the ball to Tom Davies

Little chance for the Cambridge defence

Tom Davies Try with Defenders Scattered

The forwards set the tone for the evening and for me were responsible for one of the best tries. Good set piece, effective maul, try scored. Simple but effective rugby.

Step One - Win your linout

Control the ball

Form the maul

Narrow point of drive

Try scored, second try for Ben Priddey


From the out set the Navy looked strong in the carry and this was carried on by the replacements as the game wore on.

Sam Laird

Marsh Cormack

Kyle Mason

George Q

The backs showed variety, purpose and pace in attack (most of the time).

Darren Bamford

Dave Pascoe

Ben Clarke


Mirror, mirror on the wall

Whose the fastest of them all?

On this occasion?

It wasn't Andy Vance! Still looked sharp though.

For me many players put their hands up to be Man of the Match. Senior players Dale Sleeman, Kyle Mason, Sam Laird, Ian Cooper, Ben Priddey and Marsh Cormack all gave everything skipper Dave Pascoe and DoR Andy Kellet could have asked for, but for me……..

Ben Fox who had an impressive debut in the Navy shirt

Next up it is Esher on Wednesday 7 March @ Esher. This should prove to be another high tempo thriller and the Navy will need to show that they can perform when confronted with greater physicality at the breakdown. Should be a good challenge.

The full match report is on the Royal Navy Rugby Union website, click here.