Life Member's Welcome the Class of 2008
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.