80 Minutes From Glory as Centenary Closes

“The New Zealand team woke on Tuesday morning with their fate in their own hands.  Beat or draw against their historic rivals, Australia, and they would be the 2006 Commonwealth Navies Rugby Cup champions and the first team beside the Royal Navy to win the event.

The match started well for the Kiwis and they were soon in the lead through a try from influential number 8 Mike Kennedy followed by a second from winger Tim Erickson.  The Kiwis were clearly on top and just before the half time whistle looked to have scored their third try.  However the referee correctly rules a forward pass and from the resultant scrum the RAN gained field position and a penalty to get on the score board before half time.”

The Royal Navy will wake tomorrow morning in the same position.  For the Aussies it is a case of ‘Why not?’  In 2006 they produced a memorable second half to take the game from the New Zealanders, at the same time dashing the Kiwis trophy hopes whilst opening the door for the Royal Navy to retain the cup.

Sport is not predictable.  It is the very reason why we are drawn in to its allure.  Despite the fact that a rational examination of the facts suggests that the Royal Navy will win there is always that nagging doubt – do the Breakers have another upset in their locker.   A win would bring the Ensign down on their Centenary Season in what would probably be a rum soaked style.  Or will the Brits extend their winning run in the Commonwealth Navies Rugby Cup?

A younger Jason Harrington, RAN Captain, taking lineout ball. Photo courtesy of Royal Australian Navy

I am sure emotion will abound in the home changing room.  Centenary Season, coach Tony Docherty standing down, skipper Jason Harrington playing in his sixth Commonwealth Cup.  A heady cocktail if channelled but…………….?  The closest the RAN have come to beating the Royal Navy was in the 2003 CNRC held in Philomel.  That day player of the tournament and Aussie fullback Chris Bohan caused the British team all sorts of problems.  The Breakers had clawed themselves back in to the game and levelled the scores at 15-15 with two minutes to go.  A missed conversion and a fumbled receipt of the restart gave Navy scrum half, Dave Pascoe, the opportunity to win the match.  Followers of (Royal) Navy Rugby know that Dave is a good bet in any pressure kicking environment [as it seems is young Jon Humphrey].

For the Royal Navy perhaps memories of 2009 when another first half performance similar

Stu McLaren – first made his name in the RN v RAN fixture of 2009, is playing his last season of Navy Rugby. A win would bring a good symmetry to his short but influential Navy Rugby career

to the one they produced at Brickfields will take the game (and the chance of glory) away from their hosts.  The team will no doubt look to build on their RNZN performance of Sunday morning.  With the benefit of having a game under their belts, as we mustn’t forget that Sunday was their first outing of what will be a long 2012/13 season, the team will no doubt wish to take their game up a notch or two and finish the tournament in style.

Upon welcoming the teams to the Sydney tournament Admiral Griggs, Chief of the Australian Navy, reminded his side of their, the Royal Australian Navy’s signature behaviours “Be the best you can be” and “Making Navy proud and making Australia proud”. Tomorrow 21 Breakers plus captain Jason Harrington have been selected to carry the responsibility of their Centenary Season.  The stakes and the rewards are high.  Its what makes sport great.

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