Expansive Royal Marines Retain Inverdale Challenge Trophy

27 March 2024

14:30 @ USSG Portsmouth

Royal Marines


Fleet Air Arm

The 2024 Inverdale Challenge delivered a cracking fixture. The Fleet Air Arm fought their way back into the match, but the Royal Marines were able to pull away in the end winning 45 – 26.

There were two differing styles on display but ultimately the expansive style of the Royal Marines was too much for the aviators.

Both captains, Mne Rickus Brink and POSET Ash Wakefield, led the charge for their sides as well as contributing to the scoreboard but ultimately it was Brink who was presented the Inverdale Trophy by the attending John Inverdale, son of RNRU Life Member Surg Capt (D) John B Inverdale RN.

RM intent on how they aimed to win was readily apparent from the get-go with Mne John Tyler at fullback central to their go forward, setting up Brink to go in under the posts inside the first 5 minutes. In open play Royal had the upper hand. Their second score had Brink as provider allowing Mne Henry Giddon to glide in. As expected, the FAA had dominance up front winning multiple penalties from the scrum.

There were two further Royal Marine scores before half-time. Tyler scored under the posts and flanker Mne Ben Charlton went over in the corner after an opportunistic dart from scrum half Mne Charlie Atwood. The FAA turned on the heat late into the half. Firstly, there was a hit in the middle of the park by prop LET Harry Wright which reverberated around the pitch. Then came a try from a driving maul which was duly scored by skipper Wakefield followed quickly by another driving maul with Wright the scorer.

HT: Royal Marines 26 – 12 Fleet Air Arm.

Starting where they left off, the FAA mauled over another Wakefield try and suddenly the aviators were back in it.

Tries were traded 1-for-1 with Mne Sean Hampson enjoying delivering a might handoff against the last defender. The FAA scored again using their tried and tested method with SLt Burns scoring – no doubt in no small part due to the arrival of POAET Kai Beasley who added to the mauling and scrum dominance.

Royal added two more tries from Gliddon, the first of which LH Matt Horton would sooner have you forget. Resolute and accurate throughout the match his spill from the high ball was kicked on by the outside centre to score under the posts. Gliddon’s hat trick came from another strong hand off when one-on-one with the defender. The Royal Marines were just too much for the FAA in the end but the aviators remained combative throughout against a well drilled and creative side who sought the space to score some exceptional team tries.

Winning captain Rickus Brink said after the game, “The Inverdale Challenge final was a thrilling encounter for both teams…it was exciting to watch even as a player. Despite busy schedules, we had a strong turnout for the match; we arrived in Portsmouth fired up. There were some big collisions, some good running rugby and fancy footwork moments that absolutely made the game. Looking ahead, we anticipate another intense clash next season. We would be excited to defend our title against Fleet Air Arm again [should both teams meet in the final].”

Royal Marines: L Townsend, C Goldsmith, P Phipps; G Starr, H Elliot; H Friswell, B Charlton (VC), D Brown; C Atwood, R Brink (C), B Harris, C Greaves, H Gliddon, S Hampson, J Tyler.
Replacements: A Lynch, T Wiegman, J Creese, K Young, R Hall, A Peterson, S Roets, F Marks.
Head Coach: Capt Sullivan; Team Manager, Sgt Felgate.

FAA: W Napier, C Thurgood, H Wright; E Deadman, T Dutton; M Nicoll, A Duffield, A Wakefield; B Retter, M Horton, A Cockerill, C Black, C Newcombe, D Rogerson, D Jones.
Replacements: L Evans, R Burns, A Einchcomb, K Beasley, T Turke, J Danns, T Hooper, J Thorpe.
Head Coach: CPO Osman; Team Manager, Lt Ford RN.

Words by J Campbell-Baldwin

Images by Cinnabar Studios