Successful Seniors Achieve Varsity Grand Slam

15 February 2023

19:30 @ Cambridge RFC

Senior Men XV


Cambridge University RFC

Cambridge and Oxford Universities decided to move the Varsity Matches to March in line with other team’s fixture lists resulting in more meaningful matches for the RNRU. Having beaten Oxford as Portsmouth, the subsequent match against Cambridge gave both teams an opportunity to build to something special.

Cambridge pounced upon a disjointed Navy defence to cross for their only try of the first half in reply to Will Scott’s close-range score. The game ended with the Navy determined to come away with the victory with Jake Hanley converting the winning penalty following Will Scott’s second try of the night and Jake Hanley’s perfectly placed cross field kick to winger Henry Gliddon. Cambridge replied with two further converted tries, taking the lead along the way so the Hanley penalty was the tonic that calmed the nerves.

The Senior Men planned to exert early pressure at Grange Rd with the towering Hanley kick off immediately causing problems for Cantab. The Navy looked to use their superior experience at scrum time with Gaz Evans instrumental at Tight Head. The dominance told as the student hooker was binned. After over 30 minutes of physicality, it was Fullback Craig Duncan’s deep kick that led to the Cambridge FB being overwhelmed by the rocker trap resulting in Scott’s first try of the evening.

Keen to take something from the first half the students disrupted the RN maul and with the backs positioned for attack, the quickly recycled ball gave Cambridge Blue Tim Andrew room to break through.

The second half started with honours even at 7 all, and with the Navy coaches keen to make changes and give the players the run out they needed. Watson, Spencer and Toogood entered the fray with the latter not only distributing well but also channelling his inner Antoine Dupont as he mimicked the world player of the year by remarkably stopping a certain try.

After some good phase play, Blindside Will Scott sliced through the line, sending Cambridge fullback Ty Willis the wrong way. In the last twenty both sides were seeing gaps either for testing kicks and then returning the kicks from deep. Cambridge made the most of these exchanges capitalising on a badly bouncing ball to score. Cambridge then took the lead but it was short lived as Hanley and Gliddon combined after Oli Raynor and Mitch Spencer dominated their opposite numbers.

With only a 3 point lead in the bag following Hanley’s penalty conversion the players were forced to dig deep. It was Cambridge who capitulated first and the final whistle followinga knock on was met with exhausted cheers.

Final score CURUFC 21 – 24 Navy Senior Men

Backs Coach Andy Vance said, “Overall it was a big step up in terms of level of opposition and in how we met that with a more intense and physical performance. We still have things to work on, but we were asked some questions by a quick and physical side. The players did well to resolve situations on the pitch. We were keen to use all our lads to get them game time, but we also wanted to get the win. The players coming off the bench added to the team’s overall performance which shows we are developing a strong and wide player base that can perform at the required level. Two from two and still much to improve on is a great position to be in.”

Navy Senior Men: Richie Ives, Rhys Williams, Gaz Evans; Dean Roger, Matt Scott; Will Scott, Matt Whitehead, Toby Papp (C); Will Rigelsford, Jake Hanley, Henry Gliddon, Jack Bartlett, Kristian Dobson, Henry Hughes, Craigg Duncan.

Replacements: Jack Wright, Dom Cleverley, Kai Alton, Ben Watson, Dan Watkins, Mitchell Spencer, Jay Toogood, Kieron Manson, Oli Raynor, Freddy Elliott, Luke Cador, Steff Rees.

Words by J Campbell-Baldwin and Kye Beasley

Images by NAVYFit/ Cat Goryn