Last Hurrah for Sharks at Henley

Navy Sharks and British Army Celebrate Armed Forces Day – Soldiers, Sailors and Marines First, Sportsman Second

After their continued improvement at the Newquay Surf Sevens, the Navy Sharks complete their 2012 sevens campaign at the revived Henley Sevens.

Henley 7’s

[Gates open 09:00, rugby starts at 10:00)

Directions to Henley Hawks RFC.

Navy Sharks coach Sam Cuff has overseen good progress

The Dry Leas event used to be a major fixture in the summer calendar and frequently attracted both international teams and those from clubs in the premiership.  2012 has seen

the resurrection of the tournament which will be limited to 12 teams.  The event will be the fourth and final tournament for coach Sam Cuff’s Navy Sharks team and he and captain Ian Cooper will be looking to continue the significant improvement they have made since their faltering steps in the Wild Boar 7s.

As ever with a Navy teams consistency of selection has not been easy but each tournament has seen refinements to the squad which have generally improved the performances.  Two players who have been at each and every tournament are Tom Davies and Jon Humphrey.

Jon Humphrey was the Navy Sharks only try scorer at the Wild Boar Sevens.
Tom Davies looked a little out of sorts at Wild Boar, improved at the West Country Sevens and was a key performer for the Sharks at the Newquay Surf Sevens


Jon Humphrey has produced first class performances every time he has worn the Sharks shirt this summer and indeed for HMS Heron at the Navy Sevens.  Regrettably for him and those who enjoy watching his balanced running skills injury has placed him on the sideline a few times.  Tom was a slow starter, for the Sharks, but hit a rich vein of form in Newquay.  If he can keep his personal progress going then the Navy may see the mergence of a play maker who can threaten the line and keep back rows honest.

Jon Humphrey at West Country Sevens
Tom Davies at the West Country Sevens leaves a defender clutching at straws.

Captain Cooper

Ian Cooper has captioned the Sharks for the last two tournaments and is another who has produced consistent performances.  He has even been spotted passing before contact!  I refused to take any photography of his goal kicking as it was bad enough with Gaz Evans always wanting to be a kicking No 8 without having another one on the scene.

The burning question about Coopz’ play is……………..


can he play the game with his tongue in!  That a side Coopz has led the side well and looked in good nick which should stand him in good stead for the upcoming Commonwealth Cup.

Brian Weeks Winner Shows Further Promise

It seems like only yesterday that Ratu ‘Toots’ Vakalutukali was being awarded the Brian Weeks Memorial Trophy following a very good U23 Championship.  At the West Country Sevens he again caught the eye, however he was playing for St Pauls and not the Navy Sharks.  At Newquay he was in the Navy Sharks jersey and was a player who added balance to the team as a whole.  It is also obvious to this casual observer that he has continued to develop since December and is likely to be a regular in the Senior set up before too long.

Strong running, strong tackling Toots Vakalutukali has a very promising future ahead of him.

Carry the Ball in Two Hands.

How many times have coaches extolled the virtues of the two handed carry.  Now I know Jo Kava is big and his hands are massive.  I also know that he very often mesmerises opponents with the way he waves the ball around one handed.  I also wish that the following sequence could have happened at Twickenham where he has cause the Navy far too much grief over the years.

Big Jo makes the break from the half way line
Scampering down the line he reaches the 22m
He knows that the cover defence are not going to reach him
and with only the goal line in front of him the ball comes out of his hand!

Rugby Rocks Sevens – Edinburgh

As previously reported the Army went on to win the tournament with Jo again being a stand out performer.  The British Army will not be at Henley.  Instead they will be at Edinburgh Rocks looking to add a fifth title to the four they already have locked away for this season.

Edinburgh is the third, and last, in the Rugby Rocks Series of sevens events.  The Army won the Richmond leg, way back in May, and at the Newquay Surf Sevens they defeated Newitt Centurions who had won the Yorkshire leg (Army didn’t enter).

British Army Sevens on their way to beating Newitt Centurions at the Newquay Surf Sevens

Despite Edinburgh being a home event for an Isle of Skye Photographer I will not be at the tournament nor Henley.  07:30 Saturday morning sees the start of the Three Peaks Challenge seeking to raise some money for charity on behalf of Aaron Moon, the former U23 rugby player who lost his leg due to bomb blast injuries sustained in Afghanistan.

Akrotiri Success

They may well meet other Army teams at Edinburgh including the Scots Dragoon Guards who recently added the Akrotiri 10s title to their Army sevens crown.  They beat the RAF Sharks 29-0 in the final and with the RAF Stags and RAF Wolves also having some success out in Cyprus there is further evidence that RAF rugby is beginning to get a nucleus of players together and may well be back challenging for wins at Inter Service level.

The Navy was also represented at Akrotiri with 30 Cdo RM losing out to the eventual winners at the semi final stage and HMS Bulwark and HMS Heron both losing at the quarter final stage in the Bowl.

30 Cdo RM, in red, in recent action during the final of the Navy Sevens, lost out to the eventual winners at Akrotiri 10s

Full results from the Akrotiri 10’s, Cyprus.

Commonwealth Navies Cup

The Australian Navy Rugby side have announced that the matches in the 2012 Commonwealth Cup will be played on the 3rd, 6th and 10th(11th?) October.  So in a little over three months it will be all over.  The RAN narrowly lost their Inter Service crown to the Australian Army, 33-29 so will be looking for Commonwealth Cup success to make up for this and give them some cheer in their Centenary season.  A match report of the Australian Navy Breakers loss to the Australian Army can be found here.

Army Navy Match, Inter Services, International Defence World Cup

The International Defence World Cup held in Australia, won by the Army, brought back echoes of the 1919 Great “Services Tournament’ which to put it in some sort of context pre dates the UK Inter Services tournament where the Royal Air Force joined in 1920.  The Army and Navy having been playing each other (formally) since the first match in 1907.  The event included teams from New Zealand, Australia, the Royal Air Force but neither the Navy or the Army.  Instead they played under a single banner of Great Britain or the ‘Mother Country’ as became  known.  There is a very interesting article about the event on the Australian Army Rugby Union website that can be found by clicking here.  I found the caption on a couple  of the images quite interesting and poignant – Soldiers and Sportsmen.  I noted that, as today, for these veterans of WWI they placed themselves as Soldiers first.

The Australian Army Website also uncovers a couple of other gems in the way of international Services tournaments including the Exchange Cup and the ‘Special’ International Tour.  The inaugural ‘Exchange’ Cup was played for between UK’s Royal Engineers and the Royal Australian Engineers (3-0 series win to UK Sappers).  However what caught my eye was the ‘Special’ cup played the same here when the SAS, SBS and Australian SAS played in a cup competition.  That must have been some tournament – on and off the field!

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