What a month of rugby the recently announced Command Competitions for the Inverdale Cup has thrown up.
The 2012/2013 Royal Navy Rugby Union Command Competition will be played in a league format with the first round of matches on 16th Jan and will culminate with a final on Wednesday 27th March 2013. The following week the Royal Navy Senior XV and RN Women will be looking to regain the trophies they left behind in Toulon last year. The Mariners join the action a week after when the 2013 Inter Services championship starts at RAF Halton and then a month of excellent rugby culminates with the Senior XV taking on Bath at the Rec on 17th April. Ten days to draw breath and then the Twickenham finale of the Army Navy match will bring a curtain down to another season of Royal Navy Rugby.
The full draw of the 2012/2013 Inter Command Competition is as follows:
The current holders, Naval Air Command will open their defence against Plymouth Command in what may well be a tricky encounter depending on whether the players from the Senior XV squad are made available. They certainly will not be for Round Three as it clashes with the Senior XV’s match away at Oxford and the Mariners playing Devonport Services at the Rectory. It will be interesting to see which Plymouth sides travels to Scotland on that day!
Without the question mark of players in the Senior squad being available the pick of the matches would have to be Naval Air v Royal Marines in Round Two, a repeat of last season’s final. Round Two is also when the two Naval Ports go head to head – always a competition within the competition. With Scotland having two home games they will relish their chances to cause an upset and it will be an interesting Round Five encounter if Naval Air have to travel needing a win to reach the final.
Combined Services v Crayshaw’s Welsh XV
There have been a number of changes to the players that have been selected for Combined Services. The situation is probably
best described as fluid. Currently the Navy have three starting and three on the bench. The starters are Dave Pascoe, Marsh Cormack and Dale Sleeman, so no real surprises there. However Kye Beasley has today answered a last minute call and joins Ian Cooper and nathan Huntley on the bench. Finally Stu McLaren and Greg Welling are on stand by in case a couple of players within the squad who are carrying knocks do not recover in time. Dave will also vice captain the team that is led by the Army’s Darryl ball.
The Combined Services will be playing the Remembrance Day fixture against Crayshaw’s Welsh XV at Pontypridd RFC on Wednesday 7 November KO 19:30. Prior to the match the Combined Services Women will be seeking to prevent the Australian Services producing a grand slam of wins on their 2012 UK Tour. Their match kicks off at Caerphilly RFC at 14:00 on the same day.
Combined Services Women v Australian Services Warriors
It look as if the Royal Navy will have four representatives in the Women’s team that hopes to thwart the Warriors from remaining unbeaten on tour. RN(W) captain Charlie Fredrickson is joined by the RN’s most capped women player Pam Williams, her fellow prop Emily Atkins and finally Sam Alderson.
For Pam and Charlie it will be an opportunity to erase the match at Burnaby Road from their memories. For Emily and Sam a first chance to test themselves against the touring Aussies.
Sam was not seen in RN colours last season during the cup matches but will be remembered for her try and conversion from the touchline in 2010 when the RN(W) produced a dramatic win against the RAF(W) at Burnaby Road. Ending a three year losing run.
The Reverend and the Tuba Player
Certain players in the game etch themselves in your mind for all the right reasons. Throughout the nineties the Wallaby’s great Willie O was just such a player. A hard uncompromising backrow forward equally happy at No 8 or on the flank he provided an explosive ball carrying presence in a team full of gifted play makers. And when he tackled, he tackled and many a good player was stopped in his tracks. In the 1991 World Cup final at Twickenham he wore the number 7 on his back. The opposition was Mike Teague, Peter Winterbottom, Micky Skinner – the score 12-6 to the Aussies and their first World Cup. Willie Ofahengaue was clearly the best back rower on the field and with the three granite men he played against that is an excellent accolade. Having watched that match I struggle to image Willie O as a Minister – but he is. He carries out his Ministry in Voctoria at the Free Weslyan Church of Tonga where I am sure he has found time to mentor and give words of wisdom to one of the church’s tuba player. Now when I think of tuba players I do not create images of powerful surging runs from the base of scrums, strong bone crunching tackles and the ability to turn the tightest of games. However the ASRU Warriors back row (and like Willie O an Australian International rugby player) Caz Vakalahi has shown on this tour that tuba players can be just that. On wednesday she and her fellow Warriors will seek to make it four from four and leave the UK unbeaten. With the likes of Willie O providing guidance and inspiration I feel that there may well be a richness to those melodic bass notes of the tuba that will be hard to resist.