Clash of the Type 23s
HMS Westminster v HMS Richmond
On a fine afternoon in Portsmouth HMS Westminster and HMS Richmond faced off against one another in a battle of two Type 23 Frigates, on a rare occasion when both ships were alongside at the same time. Unfortunately due to a busy programme and commitment to upkeep and maintenance neither side were able to field more than 15 players so it was agreed to play a game of 10 a-side.
Richmond kicked off and were soon putting the Westminster defence under pressure. Westminster did get some relief with a couple of early penalties but were unable to secure their own lineout ball and Richmond eventually cut through to score, although they were made to work hard by some dogged defence. The conversion was successful making the score 0-7 to Richmond. Westminster kicked off and with Richmond unable to secure the kick off finally found themselves in the opposition half. Westminster, a little less well drilled than they would have liked, displayed some good offloading out of the tackle, keeping the ball away from a combatative Richmond forward pack. Despite initially making good inroads Westminster found themselves in their own half following some loose play, but an audacious dummy by CPO 'Fez' Parker, on exchange from the US Coast Guard, led to him running in from 60m. The conversion was missed and the score was 5-7 to Richmond.
Richmond did respond in kind, looking to their forward pack who eventually ground down the Westminster defence to drive over from short range. Some quick feet a couple of minutes later allowed them to score again, and with both kicks being successful, Richmond had stretched their lead at half time 5-19.
The Westminster half time talk focused on improving communication, controlling their own possession and improving their support play. From the kick off Wetminster found themselves with the ball inside the Richmond 22. The highlight of the match followed with ET(ME) 'Jock' Glasgow, in only his second game of rugby, fending off two tacklers, dancing down the touchline and crossing the line to score. The conversion was missed but Westminster were back in the game, narrowing the gap 10-19.
Some competitive play followed, the majority of it in the middle third, with mistakes being made but lots of advantage being capitalised on. Unfortunately for Westminster, Richmond were able to score two more tries, one from a short drive and the other from a well-executed overlap. Both conversions were successful, increasing the gap with the score 10-31 in Richmond's favour.
However Westminster managed to end the game on a high. Despite injuries forcing Westminster's complement down to 8 players, with the help of some guest players from HMS Richmond they were able to work the ball to AB Stretton who evaded a tackle before running in from his own 10m line. CPO Parker obliged with the conversion from in front of the posts, which in the last action of the game made the score a respectable 17-31.
HMS Westminster would like to thank HMS Richmond for a thoroughly enjoyable game in which both sides played their part with some good rugby on display. Despite not being able to field full XVs it just goes to show that the spirit of rugby is alive and well at the base of Community Rugby in the Royal Navy.
Words by Simon Priestley
Image Royal Navy Rugby Union/© Simon Priestley