Monthly Archives: April 2012

Greg Goes

Former  Navy Rugby vice captain Greg Barden has announced his immediate retirement from rugby having stood down from captaining England Sevens.  Greg was a key member of the Navy’s winning Inter Service team of 2010 and has also been responsible for bringing through much of the Navy’s current young talent.  He will be missed and I am sure all who enjoyed watching his competitive style in the Navy blue shirt wish him well for the future.

I will post a fuller summary of his Navy Rugby career when the small matter of today’s Army Navy match is sorted.

BFBS Preview, Navy Team and Proud Heritage Answer

Jon Knighton has done an excellent preview of the Army Navy match focusing on it being the final game for two great service players Mark Lee and Josh Drauniniu.  It is on BFBS tonight (Thursday 18:30 Sky Channel 231) or can be viewed by clicking here.  It has some good footage from 2010 and interviews with both Josh and Mark.

Proud Heritage Answer

You will recall that the question was:

Which former Navy player became the first player in the history of the British Lions to use air transport to fly out as a replacement on their tour of New Zealand and Australia?  On arrival he became the youngest player in the tour party.  Before then the youngest player was also a Navy man and Devonport Services colleague.  Can you name him?

The replacement was that great man of both Union and League Lewis Jones who joined Malcolm Thomas on the Lions tour thus making their centre partnership read Devonport Services, Royal Navy, Wales and British Lions.  Sadly Malcolm died recently on the 12 April 2012.  The rugby world lost a great man.

Both have been added to the Navy Rugby Great Players page which you can access by clicking here.  I have also added the Navy’s most capped centre, Dave Sibson, to the page.

Proud Heritage Question

A more contemporary question this week.  Which Navy Player first played at Twickenham as a sub lieutenant but was also capped as a captain?

Navy Team Announcement

Navy team can be found by clicking here.  The team sees the return of Andy Vance for Aaron Hunt and Tom Glover returning to start instead of Nathan Huntley who drops to the bench.  Jack Foster is the only uncapped player in the named 22 and would become Navy rugby’s 700th player should he come on.

There may have been a technical issue with the link.  If it doesn’t work team is:

Mason, Priddey, Blackburn, Cormack, Quarniavalu, Fox, Laird, Evans, Pascoe (C), Glover, Drauniniu, Sleeman, Bamford, Vance, Humphrey.  Reps Beasley, Smith, Mitchell-Heggs, Raumakita, Cooper, Foster, Huntley

Don’t Forget the CS Match

The Navy has good representation in the Combined Services U23 match against  Oxbridge which kicks off at 12:00.  Senior XV regulars of Jim Parry, Ben Clarke and Tom Davies are joined by Sam Whitfield, Aaron Lewis, Mark Jones and J Blackburn

It’s as Easy as One, Two, Twenty!?

When on the 18th April the three Navy teams made it a clean sweep for the first time against the Royal Air Force they set up the most enticing prospect of the First, The Second and the Twentieth.

Royal Navy (Women)

This is the tenth year of the Women’s Inter Service Championship and in that time the Army Women have reigned supreme and are unbeaten though out the history of the competition.  That said at some stage the sequence will end, so why not Saturday, Kneller Hall at approximately 12:00.  A victory from the girls in

Loz Morton - Navy Scrum Half

Navy Blue would bring them a first ever Inter Service Championship.  Those who have watched the team over the last few years will have seen the continued improvement this playing group makes and what a send off it would be for retiring coach Sam Cuff.  The Navy Women’s team can be found by clicking here.

Hopefully the team can take another step forward from their victory of the Air Force.  The team will certainly be happy if it is blowing a gale as they are now used to these conditions following their trip to Toulon and the wet encounter last week at US Portsmouth.  The forwards will need to have a big game and hopefully Loz Morton can continue in her rich vein of form and keep sniping around the fringes and giving Jenks the ball on the front foot.

Navy Mariners

Master Mariners - Foul Weather Routine

Like their Senior counterparts in 1920 the Mariners won the first ever Inter Service Championship for the over thirty fives.  This unfortunately was some time ago, back in 1996.  Since then it has been a tale of light blue and red.  On Saturday the Mariners will be looking to double up and grab their second IS title and they must be confident after their excellent performance last week at HMS Temeraire.  They certainly showed that if it is wet and windy they can still produce a varied game plan built on forward physicality and no little guile in the backs.  Again you can find their team by clicking here.

The team did share the title in 2006 which was also the last time that they beat the Army.

Senior XV

For the Senior XV they will be looking for their twentieth Inter Service title at the 2012 Army Navy match.  Once again the top tier has been opened to cater for another huge crowd that is expected to descend on TW2.  I am sure that many will arrive expecting a ‘routine ‘ Army victory.  The distinguished Daily Telegraph journalist, Rupert Cherry, was obviously expecting as much when in 1970 he previewed the Army Navy game.

The Spirit of 1970? The game is won on the pitch not on paper?

Admiring the team in red boasting a number of internationals and (in those days) B internationals in its ranks he felt there was only one outcome.  However by the time he came to write his match report the team in Navy blue had recorded a deserved victory.  Rupert described the Navy team as “fired with a tremendous enthusiasm”. “They played above themselves”  They looked bigger and heavier.”  One of the young players of that day, a certain Leigh Merrick of Cossack Sword fame, much later wrote that the Navy captain of the day, Terry Scott, had ” tapped that ambition so rousingly that the array of talent lined-up against us simple did not enter our heads for one moment.  There was a supreme belief……”  No doubt all from the Senior Service travelling to Twickenham will be looking for the spirit of 1970 to be found alive and well and wearing the Navy blue shirt.

Where Doc Leads…….

It is good to see that the International Rugby Board are supporting Afghan Rugby.  As mentioned in an earlier post Navy coach Doc Cox did some coaching when he was on his last tour.  IRB news article can be viewed here.

New Page

The eagled eyed readers will notice that a new page has been posted.  It contains the award holders from Navy Rugby including those that have one the famed Cossack Sword presented to the Union by Leigh Merrick. It also lists all the captains throughout the years that have been selected to lead the team.  My thanks to Dave Oakley who helped with this last task.  It is found on the menu under Navy Rugby – TTL.

Fourth Invitational XV

Greg Barden

As the count down to the Army Navy day at Twickenham begins I have published Greg Barden’s Invitational XV.  Having only retired himself from XV-a-side rugby last season it naturally contains many players who will be on show on Saturday, blended with some greats of the past.  Hopefully you will find it an enjoyable read.

Greg was one of the most versatile players to have represented Navy Rugby and played in five of the seven back line positions .  However that feat was surpassed by one of the players who forms the answer to the last Proud Heritage quiz set.  I hope to have the answer published later this week along with thee entry on the great players list.




Exiles Stars Reward Sultan’s Ambition

In February HMS Sultan were announced as one of the 12 Premiership Rugby Pro Winners. The announcement particularly mentioned the efforts of the team:

“Winners of this year’s QBE Rugby Pro include the first XV at HMS Sultan and Upton-upon-Severn RFC. The judges were impressed by the commitment and desire to play rugby shown by the players from HMS Sultan and their close affiliation with Naomi House children’s hospice.”

Last week the team had a coaching session led by two of London Irish’s coaches and run by three of their stars.

Mike Crump - Coach

Brian Lee - Coach

Ross Sampson - Scotland VIIs & London Irish scrum half

Topsy Ojo - England Saxons and London Irish winger

James Buckland England A and London Irish hooker

Sultan Coach - Mark Thompson

Coach Mark Thompson saw his side put through their paces with drills that looked at individual and team attack along with scrummaging and line out work. Having already secured the Portsmouth Area Cup Final this year they will now be looking to target a 2012 Navy Cup win and avenge last year’s defeat at the hands of HMS Seahawk.

Scrummaging with James Buckland

Individual Attack

Improving the Lineout

Team Attack

HMS Sultan's Players with Topsy Ojo, Ross Sampson and James Buckland

Malta Stun Sweden

Kyle Mason - Malta and Royal Navy

Navy Rugby’s loose head prop, Kyle Mason, was part of the team that stunned both Sweden and the rest of their European Nations Group with a 22 – 14 victory in Valletta on Saturday.  Prior to the match Sweden were unbeaten in their group but Malta are gradually making their island home a rugby fortress having not lost there since November 2010.

The only cloud on Kyle’s horizon will be that for the second match running he picked up a yellow card.  He will return to the Navy squad as they finalise their preparations for the Army Navy match at Twickenham on Saturday.

Someone who will be very pleased with the victory is ‘Diamond’ Jim Hunter.  The former Navy Rugby and Fleet Air Arm stalwart is now the islands Rugby Development Manager with the tasking of bringing through future generations of players for Malta.  His task will be a little easier after Saturday.

The win temporarily lifts Malta to second in the league although Latvia have a match in hand and also should see Malta climb into the top 40 when the International Rugby Board publish the new standings on Monday..

A full report from the Malta Times can be viewed by clicking here.

Proud Heritage Quiz

Below is the latest question in this season’s Proud Heritage quiz. Having managed to get past the peak loading of the two matches against the Marine Nationale and the day of rugby against the Royal Air Force I hope to get the answer out before the end of the week and also add a couple more players to the great players list.  Also before the end of the week I will be publishing the fourth and final (for this season) invitational select XV.

Which former Navy player became the first player in the history of the British Lions to use air transport to fly out as a replacement on their tour of New Zealand and Australia?  On arrival he became the youngest player in the tour party.  Before then the youngest player was also a Navy man and Devonport Services colleague.  Can you name him?



Beach Rugby Is For Softies!


Snow Rugby - Afghanistan

Doc Cox


Doc Cox is currently the player / coach of the Royal Navy Mariners, is a former Senior XV coach and also an Inter Service winning head coach of the U23s side.  However his coaching CV runs wider than Navy Rugby.  During a recent tour of duty in Afghansistan he did some coaching with the local players and also encouraged Navy Rugby to help out with some kit.  This kit initiative was also very generously supported by the Scottish Rugby Union.

Well as the photograph shows a drop of snow (50cm) does not stop the enthusiastic Afghans from playing the game.  Through the drive and determination of the Chief Executive Officer (Asad Ziar) the Afghanisatan Rugby Federation is growing and has joined a small group of countries (Argentina, Canada India and USA) where snow rugby is played.

The two teams showed in the pictures are Kabul United and Paghman and the game is being played at the Golf Ground at Qargha Park, Kabul.  On the eve of this year’s Army Navy game at Twickenham the Afghan team will be in Dubai as part of the Asia Region, IRB sponsored competition.  All involved with Navy Rugby will no doubt wish them the best of luck.

Afghanistan v UAE


More Snow Rugby

 Malta v Sweden

Kyle Mason


Navy Rugby prop, Kyle Mason, will be wearing the national colours of Malta later today when they take on table toppers Sweden in the European Nations Cup league match.  The last time the two teams met at Malta’s Hibernians Stadium the home team secured the closest of victories with the last kick of the game 5 minutes in to stoppage time.  The Swedes however had their revenge with a comfortable victory last year 24-13 at Staockholm.



Andy Kellett - DoR


A Blast From the Past

No doubt Navy DoR Andy Kellett will be hoping Kyle comes through unscathed.  He is pictured above in action at Twickenham in the Navy’s win against the RAF 22-13 during the triple tie 1992 season.  It was to prove Andy’s last year in representative colours before injuries and academic studies took him away from the Senior side.  He did return later as a substitute but that was in the days when the bench was only used for injuries and he didn’t add to his ten caps.

I am grateful to the Royal AIr Force Rugby Union for the use of the photographs and I would commend all to have a look at the galleries on their website where there are same great image from history.

Former RAF DoR Steve Worrall and Navy Chairman Chris Alcock

 Harrison and Harrison

I know they sound like a firm of solicitors but both have been added to the Navy Rugby Great Players page.  Arthur Harrison is the answer to my last Proud Heritage Quiz question and is the only England International to have been awarded a Victoria Cross.  Harold Harrison is one of two players who have represented both the Army and Navy at the Army Navy match.

Inter Services – Outcomes not just Performances

For those who know me then you are fully aware of the importance I have always put on performance but I have also stressed and everyone should remember that the Inter Services are all about getting two results and last night the Navy scraped over the line to get their first.

The team are fortunate that rugby is not one of the sports like diving, gymnastics or indeed downhill ski jumping where style count towards the results.  If the Sky cameras had been at the game then the stats gurus would have delighted the Air Force followers with the various metrics that pointed to Air Force superiority.  Alas when the clocked ticked to 80 minutes the only statistic that counts showed the Royal Navy 13 the Royal AIr Force 6.

He Came Late

He Went Early

But In Between………………

Ian Cooper - Centre

With the return of Ben Priddy to the front row, Gaz Evans was reverted to 8 and Ian Cooper was relegated to the bench and had to wait impatiently to get his chance of some action.  However the submariner’s influence on the game was cut short when he became the fourth member of the Navy team to see the Yellow Card of referee Dai Williams.  However for the short time he was on the field……..

Coopz on the way to the line

and just makes the line.

to his delight

and his team mates and the majority of the large Burnaby Rd crowd.

Yellow Cards and Bollockings

Following three against Marine Nationale the Navy decided to go one better by raising the stakes to four yellow cards.  First influential flanker Sam Laird was despatched, followed by Kyle Mason, Jorgi Quanivalu and then finally Ian Cooper.

Yellow for Kyle

A bollocking for Tom

A head ache for team manager Glen Humphrey

Three of the four placed on 'the naughty step"

Man of the Match

Three players stood out.

Dave kicked his goals

Dale carried and tackled hard on his return to a starting spot

Gaz Evans tidied poor ball at the base of the scrummage and carried all night.

For me Gaz was the Navy's man of the match

New Caps

Congratulations to Aaron Hunt who following his senior debut in 2007 and many games along the way finally one his first cap.  He became the 698th member of the Navy Rugby Silver tie club.  Also congratulations go to Hugo Mitchell-Heggs who came off the bench to win his first cap.

Aaron is welcomed to the Navy's Silver Tie club

 RAF Day Images

All images from the RN v RAF, second round, of the Babcock Inter Service Rugby Championship can be found by clicking here.

What A Difference a Week Makes

Smiles Replaced the Toulon Frowns

A deserved victory a week after the defeat in France ensured that RN(W)’s well respected Head Coach, Sam Cuff, could reflect on a winning performance in his last home game in charge.

Sam Cuff - moves on to the RN Sharks

 Was it a Try Yes or No?

The Charge Down

The Ball is in In Goal

We've scored?

Looks like the Match Officials were right

The Navy thought they had scored when scrum half Loz Morton charged down the RAF(W)’s attempted clearance kick. With the ball bobbling around in In Goal it was close as to who got the touch down. The match officials were unsighted so awarded the 5m scrum. It looks as though the RAF did get to the ball first.  However it wasn’t long before the Navy did score and this time it was under the posts.

Not quite there

The eagle eye can just spot the ball amongst the pile of bodies

It's under navy control. Try scored!

Fiesha Green - new cap

Pam Williams - presented with her cap and most capped

Charlie - Player of the Match

The Cup and Victory Smiles


A full image album can be viewed by clicking here.

Marinated Vulture

Images from the Mariners well worked 25 – 11 victory over the RAF Vultures can be found here.

Images From the Game

Me and My Shadow

The weather prevented the backs getting much ball but they contributed fully to the win.

Taff Jenkins

Paul Clarke


Clean Lineout Win

The Navy Half Backs of Jenkins and Clarke controlled the game but it was their forwards whose purposeful driving play won it.

The New David Copperfield Practices his ball levitation


Hey guys, can we have some ball please


Its cold, its wet, we've won and the bar is open.

New Caps (and old!)

Senior XV

Last night Aaron Hunt became the 698th player to be capped for the Royal Navy Rugby Union.  He first played for the Senior XV in 2007, is the holder of 8 caps at U23 level and now becomes another of the dual code players having also been capped for the ROyal Navy Rugby League team, the Brothers.

Later in the match Hugo Mitchell-Heggs came off from the replacement bench to win his first cap in his first season of Navy Rugby having only joined the Navy last season.

Many congratulations to both.

Hugo Mitchell-Hegg (699) and Aaron Hunt (698)

Women XV

Though their history is far shorter than that of the Senior XV, the award of caps is equally as important for the Royal Navy’s Womens team.  To qualify they the players have had to play six Inter Service matches from a starting point of the 2008/09 season.  Six caps were awarded prior to the start of the season with four of them being presented at the Royal Navy Inter Command Tournament.  Yesterday Fiesha Green became the seventh member of the RN(W) club of capped players.

Fiesha Greene (7)

The Most Capped RN(W) Player is……..

As mentioned above only four of the first six Navy Women’s caps were presented  earlier in the season.  Yesterday proved to be a fitting opportunity to present a cap to a fifth member of the original six, Pam Williams.  History will look back at a small group of women involved with Navy Rugby who are responsible for ensuring its very survival.  Amongst these pioneers will be the name of Pam who has been a loyal and fiercely competitive servant of the woman’s game.  The whole team, I am sure, probably shared in Pam’s joy at receiving her cap from Navy Rugby’s President Admiral Sir Trevor Soar.  Also by a quirk of selection and with Emma Swinton not coming off the bench Pam became the most capped player in RN(W) history as she was winning her second cap yesterday.  Congratulations.

Pam Williams (6) - Most Capped RN(W) Player

Photographs from RAF Games will be posted over the next few days and will all be done by Sunday night.