Royal Navy Women’s Best Showing at ‘Entente Cordial’ Falls Just Short

Royal Navy Women before their annual encounter with the Marine National Feminines.  The teams play for the Entente Cordial Trophy and it was the seventh game in the series first started in 2011 with a 12-a-side game, also hosted at HMS Drake

Traditionally the men’s match is billed as “Le Crunch” but as the Royal Navy Women stepped up to the plate it was the Women’s game that was always simmering and occasionally boiled over.
Experienced referee Tim Bailey managed the game well but had little option but to dismiss MN(F) prop for hair pulling – with a little help from his multi-lingual sign language.
The cause of the frustration amongst MN(F) was simple.  Leading from the front Navy skipper Charlie Fredrickson  simply did not let the French team settle, giving them little space to run the ball.
And her team followed Charlie’s example.  Here Issy Rawlinson, Ollie Critchely and Stacey Hargrave all combine to stop the MN(F) in their tracks.
The uncompromising RN play took its toll as the French were repeatedly rocked back.
The joy on Stacey Hargrave’s face is obvious has her try, following an earlier try from skipper Fredrickson brought the teams level at 10 – 10.
Concentration from full back Sam Alderson as she lined up the conversion.  The kick straight and true and for the first time ever in the series the Royal Navy were ahead in a match against Marine Nationale.  12 – 10
Unfortunately the work rate from the home team began to tell, MN(F) harried the RN possession and began to find a little more space in open field.  Ten unanswered points restored their lead before Drew Powell scored the Royal Navy’s third try.  The match once more within a single score but the Marine Nationale Feminines were able to pull away late in the match for a 35 – 17 win.
In his last capped match on home soil before stepping down, Royal Navy Rugby Union President, Admiral Sir Philip Jones, once more presented the trophy to the French but would have enjoyed the far closer match in the seventh edition of the Entente Cordial Series.
A final duty was to award Royal Navy replacement, Billie Staite, her RN Cap as she joins a growing list of RN Women capped players.  Congratulations also go to Feisha Greene, the RN flanker, who won her tenth RN cap at the game.
And finally to the victor the spoils as the MN(F), with trophy, enjoyed the evening game, held at Brickfields, where they watched their men’s team also win to cap a sobering evening for Navy Rugby.

All images from Lee Crabb of Scrumpix

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