White is Alright on the Night

08 February 2023

19:15 @ USSG Portsmouth

Senior Men XV


Oxford University RFC

The Royal Navy Senior Men bowed to convention and took to USSG wearing white allowing Oxford University to wear their renowned and nearly identical navy blue. In a game where tries were scored, it was the scoreless last twenty minutes that was the most entertaining as the Seniors put on a resolute display against a spirited OURFC.

The final try which put the RN back into the lead was created by Matt Scott whose deft offload to Papp put replacement Jack Wright in position to cross the line after brushing off the tacklers. After that there was much intaking of breath and gnawing of nails as the RN threw their bodies on the line with last ditch tackles, chasing down would-be scorers. Always quicker to regroup, they turned over a lot of possession when Oxford was going forward.

After vice-captain Ben Chambers and Will Scott scored nearly identical tries with No.9, Dan Rutter, taking the decision to take play down the blind side, Oxford’s patience and tempo was rewarded as they began to chip away resulting in a try for fullback Mewes after a few Navy tacklers fell away.

The Navy were canny operators in defence and for the most part convinced the referee that their actions at the breakdown and in mauls were legitimate. Though the lineout defence requires some work, against the lighter and less experienced student side they were able to dominate the set pieces.

Tiring before the break, a couple of errors began to creep in. After not retreating for a penalty with Mitch Spencer receiving a yellow card, the students drew level after the successful conversion. Instead of ceding the lead Chambers, soon to depart the field with his arm in a sling, scored his second after Oxford’s Bridgewater threw a speculative miss pass to his midfield.

OURFC will rue their inability to turn their possession and passion into points as they pushed the Navy all the way to the end. The loudest collective Navy expiration came in the final plays when centre Furniss danced through the approaching defensive line in the Oxford 22 and the space ahead opened. Surrounded by support players with multiple options the final pass was called forwarded by the AR.

Backs coach Andy Vance said, 'We set ourselves a target of going wide as a test against a young, mobile and organised defence. Unfortunately basic errors at the collision and breakdown, tackle height and discipline hampered that but when we did shift it we looked dangeous in the wide channels. Overall, a win against this side is a good day and when you factor in the positives like the new players, the heart and fight at the end to keep them out, plus the improvements that can be made, it’s a great start to the season.'

The game concluded Navy Rugby 22 – 17 Oxford University RFC.

Words by J Campbell-Baldwin

Images by NAVYFit/ Andrew Fosker