PRESIDENTIAL PASSAGE ON HMS OCEAN
LeRoy Angel, President of the RFU, and Bob Rogers, Senior Vice President and incoming President, were welcomed onboard HMS OCEAN by the ship's Commanding Officer, Captain Chris Snow when they recently took passage in the RN's largest warship on a routine visit to Dublin. Having attended the launch of the Centenary of Navy Rugby onboard HMS GRAFTON in London in January, the President had expressed an interest in finding out more about life at sea and the RN's rugby heartbeat, and this was a perfect opportunity to illustrate the Royal Navys ability to conduct its day job and be an ambassador for Rugby. During the 2 day passage both took every opportunity to understand the workings of the ship and get to know the members of her ship's company. After joining the ship in her home port of Plymouth, they both had the opportunity to take the helm, managing to chart a safe course, as well as touring the ship's engine rooms, operations room and storerooms and galley where they stopped, in fine Naval tradition, to find out what was going on around the ship. Leading Chef Ginge Grieveson, a team manager with Devon Club Ivybridge's mini section and Social Secretary of HMS OCEAN RFC, was delighted to meet the President and his successor – 'It's not every day you have the President of the RFU in the galley and are able to chat about rugby issues. It was great to see them both and gain their views on where the sport is going'. They were really interested to view the ship's amphibious capability, as well as the cavernous hangar and magazines, and were keen to see if the ship's sick bay matched up to the one in the depths of Twickenham stadium. A key part of the visit was a rugby forum held with about 40 members of the ship's rugby club and other rugby enthusiasts. The evening commenced with an exchange of memorabilia but soon got down to 2 hours worth of discussion on the game of rugby at all levels. Both the current and incoming Presidents were delighted with the thought provoking questions and were able to tap into a number of grass roots issues. LeRoy Angel said, ' This was an excellent opportunity for us to provide a Headquarters level response to a collection of very good questions. It also enabled us to better understand some real concerns held by grass roots rugby folk, including some that apply directly to the Services, and give an assurance that the RFU is in tune with them. It was an extremely rewarding and enjoyable evening.' The icing on the cake was attendance at the ship's Cocktail Party and the opportunity to greet Peter Boyle, the new President of the Irish Rugby Football Union. This was an ideal opportunity for the two new Presidents, in particular, to renew their friendship and shape some priorities for the forthcoming year – whilst soaking up the unique atmosphere in HMS OCEAN. Commander Bob Gray, the ship's Logistics Officer and Director of Finance & Marketing of the Royal Navy Rugby Union said, 'This has been a very successful visit and both we and the RFU Presidents have taken much from it. It has been great fun to show them around the ship and involve them in all that has been going on. The rugby forum was a particularly good chance for our club members to obtain frank answers and responses to their rugby questions and views.' On leaving the ship and thanking Captain Snow for the opportunity for both he and Bob to take passage, LeRoy Angel remarked on the obvious and profound sense of teamwork that exists throughout the Royal Navy and how this maps across so readily to the playing of rugby. Clearly, the team works!