Battle of the Royal Marines Bands


Royal Marine School of Music


Holland Bowl Tournament 2018

Royal Marine Band Service Holland Bowl Tournament 2018
Royal Marine Band Service Holland Bowl Tournament 2018
Royal Marine Band Service Holland Bowl Tournament 2018

The Holland Bowl is an annual Rugby 7s competition held between all Royal Marines Bands played in memory of Barry Holland who tragically died in 1994 whilst serving with the Royal Marines Band Plymouth when the coach carrying the Band crashed.  This year's competition took place on 29 April at Clarence Pier Rugby Pitch.

The Royal Marines Bands from Portsmouth and Scotland and the Royal Marines School of Music were able to field teams this year and it was decided that a double round robin format would be adopted, with each team playing the others twice (5 minutes per half), culminating in a final between the two top teams (7 minutes per half).

The selection draw saw last year's winners, RM Band Portsmouth, playing against RM Band Scotland in the first game.  With the challengers applying pressure immediately, the defence was excellent but ultimately a non-converted try for Scotland was scored by Sgt (Warren) Lindsay. The second half saw more "up the jumper" style of play from the Scotland team, but Musn (George) Gissing for RM Band Portsmouth twice managed to find gaps to score two well-deserved tries, both of which were converted superbly from distance by Musn (Liam) O' Neill.  The final score in the first match was 14 - 5 to RM Band Portsmouth.

The second game was played between RM Band Scotland and the RM School of Music (RMSM).  The RM School of Music immediately used their youth and pace to great effect, Musn (Cameron) Reader raced down the wing to touch down for an early 5 - 0 lead.  Unfortunately play was then delayed for 45 minutes due to a seemingly innocuous tackle which unfortunately resulted in a dislocated hip for MUSN (Ryan) Hughes of the RM School of Music and a brief pitch invasion from the Hampshire Air Ambulance!  Thankfully, Hughes has since been discharged from hospital to receive physiotherapy for a full recovery.  The match continued with more fast paced play from the students, resulting in a second loss for RM Band Scotland with a final score of 24 - 7.

The RM School of Music then played RM Band Portsmouth in a closely fought contest with both teams attempting to use power through the middle and pace out wide, with the unlikely figure of prop turned winger Cpl (Jack) Ballard showing the younger opposition a clean pair of heels on no less than three occasions. Musn (Fraser) Wilkes caused serious problems for RM Band Portsmouth with his pace and power but the defence held strong, and the final score was 22 - 7 to RM Band Portsmouth.

RM Band Scotland then played their second game against RM Band Portsmouth, making good use of the space at times but unfortunately unable to turn the pressure into points.  Musn (Alastair) Ham of RM Band Portsmouth found himself on the wing and was able to win the footrace to the try line despite the best efforts of Musn (Andy) O'Neill.  RM Band Portsmouth secured their third win with a final score of 12 - 5.

The RM School of Music then played their second game against the visitors from Scotland, this time it was a much closer match.  With superb forwards play from Lindsay, RM Band Scotland were able to score vital points, but again youth proved to be a deciding factor.  Repeatedly the RM School of Music were able to use the space on the wings and achieved another victory, the match ending 19 - 12.

At this stage RM Band Portsmouth should have played the RM School of Music as their second head to head, however with RM Band Scotland losing all their games the final was clearly going to be between the other two teams.  It was agreed by the team captains, Chairman and referee that this match would be the final instead of playing each other twice in a row.

RM Band Portsmouth initially lost their defensive structure and the RM School of Music capitalised on this with three first half tries.  Wilkes again providing the power that would draw the defenders, and great support play resulted in overlaps and a stretched defence.

The second half saw a big improvement for RM Band Portsmouth, and some vital possession.  A comeback seemed on the cards as Ham drove over to bring his team within a single score for the tournament win.  However two knock-ons within metres of the try line ended RM Band Portsmouth's dream of retaining the trophy for another year.  The final score was 15 - 12 and the RM School of Music were awarded the Holland Bowl for 2018 by Barry's younger brother, former Band Colour Sergeant Terry Holland.  

Overall it was a great day of rugby and camaraderie for the Royal Marines Band Service and a fitting way to remember a Royal Marines Band Service colleague, Barry Holland, who died in a tragic accident.

There will be another opportunity to take part in a summer RNRU 7s tournament on Wednesday 6 June.  The event is being held at Yeovil RFC and is open to all Regular and Reserve men's and women's teams.  Follow this link for an application form.  

Team lists:

Royal Marines Band Portsmouth
Cpl J Ballard
Musn A Ham
Sgt C Edwards
Musn W Stammers
Musn G Gissing
Musn L O'Neill
Cpl M Collis
Musn G Turner
Sgt R Burbery

Royal Marines Band Scotland
WO1 C Brown
Sgt W Lindsay
Cpl S Pearson
Musn C Beal
Musn M Montgomery
Musn A O' Neill
Musn R Truzzi Franconi
Musn H Marsh

Royal Marines School of Music
Musn M Fletcher
Musn F Wilkes
Musn T Day
Musn S Bowden
Musn R Hughes
Musn H Hughes
Musn J Gilbert
Musn C Reader
Bug J Barnes
Musn C Dennehey
Musn M Sylvester

Words: Alistair Ham
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © Emilie Gas