Having played the beautiful game for many years, what could be easier than taking on the role of the ‘man in the middle!’ Well, where shall I start….. Having completed the foundation referee course in September last year I awaited my first game with great anticipation. The first thing to strike me was the shortage of service games; when I was a lad we used to play every Saturday AND Wednesday, whereas nowadays you are lucky if there is a game once a month. I must have been lucky though because for my very first game I was appointed a friendly between HMS Cornwall and HMS Montrose at Plymouth. Before arriving I had a 90-minute drive and during this time I mulled over all (probably only a small percentage) of the possibilities that I thought I may have to face during the game. I was also fortunate enough to have an assessor appointed to observe my performance and provide guidance and encouragement pre, during and post match. With my warm up over it suddenly dawned on me that I now had to talk to the teams and tell them what I expected from them! But, what did I want? Seen as it was my first game I quickly thought of all the things that manage to wind me up when I watch rugby on the TV, hands in rucks, tackler not rolling away and falling over the ball. First, check boots, lo and behold there’s a player pleading ignorance because he did not realise he had a stud missing from the front of his boots. Now, with that out of the way, the briefing; I used my TV pick up points as the premise for my brief and it all seemed to go down well with people nodding their heads and, surprisingly, agreeing with what I said. So, off we went, my first game; I remembered what Paul Burton had told me with reference to whistle tone, made a quick mental note to get down the gym and improve the fitness level and told myself to stop picking up the TV referees and watch where they stood! The game went well and I even received three cheers from the teams on completion, something which has not happened since I hasten to add. Six months down the line I still get butterflies before starting a game but it is getting less as each game passes. I am my own worst enemy though as post game I review all my decisions and analyse them for any errors whilst my 12 year old son, who accompanies me most Saturdays, does not hold back if he thinks I have made an error! I now actively look forward to my next game and would advise any players, who may be considering hanging up their boots, to have a go, you have nothing to loose, and it does keep you within the rugby fraternity for hopefully quite a few more years… which reminds me to ask ‘...is it this year or next I get to ref the Army Vs RAF game?’ John is on the left with Ian Seaton centre and Andy Watts to the right in the picture.
Gosport and Fareham’s youth triumphed over the Services experience in the Soapy Watson Memorial game. Bright sunshine and a good crowd saw both sides line up for a minute’s ovation to our absent friend. It appeared Soapy was looking down on the match as no sooner had the whistle blown for the Kick off then the heavens’ opened treating the players to a 20 minute downpour of rain and hail. Gosport took advantage of this and scored an early try, which Kev Ayres converted. (5-0) Services vintage midfield of Pocklington, Blackett and Sheldon combined well to set pocket rocket Penfold free down the right wing, despite some sustained pressure Services failed to score. Gosport increased their lead after Services spilled the ball during a counter attack. (14 -0) Two scores down Services started rolling subs and Steve Lee finished a fine move to bring them back into the game. HT G& F 14 - US 5 Gosport began the scoring early in the second half and were dominating in the lose play around the fringes, despite this Services fought back and Lee went over for his second try. (21-10) The Gosport forwards were really on top and pushed a 5 yard scrum over the line and were awarded another try. (27- 10). Services were to have the final say after introducing Robert Watson on as a sub his scintillating run led to a try and he was there to land the conversion for the final score of the game. Final G &F 27 – US 17 On behalf of Lynn Watson I would like to thank ‘Boots’ Bateson and Big John from G&F for making the happen and all players and spectators who turned out. It was a good well contested game played in the style and spirit befitting of the memory of our ‘old oppo’ Steve ‘Soapy’ Watson. The picture shows Lynn Watson amongst the Services aging back line of Shelley Sheldon, Geoff Blackett, Bob Penfold, Glyn Mortley and John Pocklington – disappointed to be handing over the trophy to Gosport and Fareham..... Bring on the rematch
The President of the Royal Navy Rugby Union, Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti, hosted the annual dinner in honour of the Union’s Life Members and Vice Presidents at the Royal Marine’s Museum, Eastney last night. For the first time the dinner was held on the eve of an Inter Service match and all were naturally looking forward to the three games the following day culminating in the Royal Navy taking on the Royal Air Force. At the dinner the President welcomed former Navy Chairman, Cdre Tim Harris RN (Retd) to his first function as the Union’s newest Life Member and also Rear Admiral’s Richard Ibbotson and Phil Jones as new Vice Presidents of the Union. Another first for the evening was the attendance of the Senior XV squad at the pre-meal drinks and also for the presentation of their President’s Letter acknowledging their selection to the Inter Service squad and, for the twenty two named for the game against the Royal Air Force, the presentation of their match shirts. The evening was a reminder of the unique bond that exists amongst those players who have represented the Union on the rugby field. Leading the way for the eight capped Life Members was Vice Admiral Sir Ted Horlick who was first capped in 1948 and was the two hundred and fifty seventh player to be capped by the RNRU. He looked on proudly as the only uncapped player in the starting fifteen, Wayne Duggan of HMS Lancaster, received his shirt from the President. When Wayne takes the field he will join Sir Ted and become the Royal Navy’s newest and six hundred and fifty ninth capped player. As is customary at the Dinner the President gave his ‘State of the Union’ speech and began by acknowledging the immense contribution and indeed on going support that had been made to the Union by his predecessor as President, the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathon Band. Special mention was made on the work being undertaken to reinvigorate grass-roots rugby under Rugby Development Officer, Dusty Miller, and to provide a robust coaching structure for the future under the guidance of Director of Coaching, Steve Wrigglesworth. The President acknowledged the achievements of the U23s, led by their coaching duo of Doc Cox and Owen Salmon, in winning the Inter Service U23 Championship outright for the first time in twenty years. Similarly the victory in Dubai by the Navy Sharks Sevens team, under the coaching of Billy May, was noted. The President also praised Mike Connolly for the work he has achieved as Head Coach in his first season with the Ancient Mariners and the leadership shown over many years to Navy Women’s rugby by their captain Paula Bennett-Smith. Finally the President thanked all the Sponsors of Navy Rugby whose support is vital to ensure that the Union his able to provide the opportunities for all the players across the Fleet and looked forward to an exciting day of rugby against the RAF.
An event run by the Hampshire Rugby, Rugby Football Union (RFU) and the Royal Navy Rugby U nion which searches for potential front-row stars of the future in a Pop Idol-style recruitment drive culminates Monday 14 April 2008 at HMS TEMERAIRE. The brilliantly named 'Prop Idol' scheme is on the look-out for boys and girls aged between 13 and 14 who have the talent to reach the top and has been held in various locations over the past 2 months. The event is designed to test young props and hookers and to identify their potential under the watchful eyes of World Cup winning Front Row Forward Jason Leonard MBE, RFU Coach Development Officer Gavin Williams and England women's forward coach Graham Smith. The competition utilises scrum machines and tackle bags to test the players strength and power as well as assessing their potential. England front-row legend Jason Leonard supports the scheme and says "It's great to hear of such a well thought out scheme being used to promote front-row play and provide expert coaching and advice for young players," "Rugby's for everyone and I hope they go on to get years of enjoyment from the game as a result." The finals start at 19.45, hand it is hoped that they will help to raise the profile of front-row players and encourage children to start playing rugby, as well as finding an overall winner.
United Services Portsmouth will be hosting two prestigious fixtures either side of this season's Navy v RAF festival of rugby. On Saturday 12 April at 13:00 the US Pompey Vets will play Gosport and Fareham Vets as a memorial game for former Navy Senior XV Team Manager, WO ' Soapy' Watson. The game will see a number of former colleagues of Soapy run out including John Pocklington and Mark 'Shelly' Shelford. It is also rumoured that big Pat Patilla may make a guest appearance for ten minutes, knees permitting. Then on the Friday it is the turn of the Youth to take centre stage. In a return of the Inter Port derby US Portsmouth U16s will host Devonport Services U16s as part of US Portsmouth's 125 Year celebrations. The evening starts at 18:30 with a number of mini and junior warm up matches before the main game at 19:00. This will be the first opportunity to catch sight of next season's US Portsmouth Colts team when the club re-establishes the age group team - an initiative that all who new Soapy would know he would have been proud of. It promises to be a week of excellent rugby and US Portsmouth, Devonport Services and Navy Rugby would welcome as much support as possible.
Petty Officer Jane Pizzi was the referee for the Army Women’s Corps final at Aldershot. Jane was ably assisted by recently qualified Army referees Maj Ann O’Flynn and Capt Elaine Radcliffe. This match was a milestone for the Combined Services Rugby Referee as it was the first match that they had fielded a female team of 3. John Voss the Combined Services Rugby Referees, Referee Development Officer said “It has been a long term aim of the Federation to field a female team of 3 for the Corps women’s final, the team on the day performed to an extremely high standard drawing complimentary comments from the coaches. We will look forward to a time when this will become common place in Service rugby”. The match was keenly contested between REME v RLC, with the RLC running out winners. When asked how she felt about the appointment Jane said “it is a huge honour to be appointed to such a prestigious fixture, I am indebted to Royal Navy Referees for showing such confidence in me by putting me forward to referee this match”. Jane has been refereeing for 10 years but her career has curtailed her officiating due to drafts to sea and Afghanistan, she will be shortly entering BRNC to take a commission and fulfil her ambition to become a logistics officer. As well as refereeing she has also found time in the past to be involved with the RN Women XV.