If there is one rugby team in the Royal Navy that would appreciate the achievement of the Army Sevens Rugby side in becoming Sports Team of the Year it is HMS Seahawk. Last season HMS Seahawk beat HMS Sultan in the Navy Cup final to lift the trophy for the second time in their history and for the first time since December 1984. However their success had been built upon three successive victories in the Navy Sevens and through their wider Sevens success as the HMS Seahawk Islanders. Through the sevens success they built both an identity and depth to their playing squad which complemented the core of experienced XV a side players they already had. Last season when the game opened up, Sultan simply had no answer to Seahawks expansive game. Yet their semi final win, earlier this week, over Devonport was firmly rooted in forward power.
It was clear at the Newquay Sevens that despite the rivalry in the XV-a-side code there is a deep bond amongst the sevens players and a number of the Seahawk Islanders travelled to the event to support both the Navy Sharks and the Army’s Seven. The Army went on to win the tournament, their fifth successive win of the season. After Newquay they added the Edinburgh Rocks title and the International Defence Force Sevens held in the USA to finish the season seven from seven.
Their final trophy, the Army Sport’s Control Board Team of the Year was announced at the end of November and on Wednesday of this week the team were at the Army’s Award Ceremony to collect their trophy and receive their deserved acknowledgement. Under the stewardship of Alfred Vakacokovanua and John Voss they know that the current Army Sevens squad has a lot more potential and the real possibility of emulating the achievement of 2004 and winning the Combined Services Sports Award.
Army Senior XV Head Coach – Andy Sangar
Also at the awards ceremony (on John’s right in the team photograph at top) was former Army Senior XV Head Coach, Andy Sanger. Andy who stepped down from the role at the beginning of the season due to professional commitments was nominated in the category as Sports Official of the Year. Having guided the Army to inaugural success in the International Defence World Cup Andy made the top three but was pipped to the title.
Former Navy Head Coach, Ash Coates, and incoming Head Coach, Owen Salmon, will both know how Andy feels. Both have also previously been nominated for the Navy’s Sports Official of the Year and though both, like Andy, were shortlisted neither lifted the trophy. Must be something about being Head Coach of a rugby team!
Immediately after attending the Andover awards ceremony their Team Manager, John Voss, the Combined Services former Referee Development Manager, was travelling to Germany to deliver a training course for the next batch of aspiring referees.
The Navy Cup page can be accessed by clicking the header above. It has been updated with the results from Wednesday. HMS Seahawk will be seeking to join the ranks of CTCRM and HMS Heron in becoming a team to have successfully retained the trophy. The first team to achieve this feet was HMS Nelson, the forerunner of the current HMNB Portsmouth team. Though HMNB Portsmouth have never won the title HMS Nelson did so on three occasions. HMS Seahawk have won the title twice and also hold the record for the biggest winning margin in a final and the highest score in a final. If HMNB Portsmouth win the final they would join West harbour rivals HMS Collingwood in having four Navy Cup wins (3 as Nelson and one as HMNB). This is second to HMS Heron’s significant leading achievement of eight wins.