Development squad helps grow the player base


RN Women (Dev)


Havant Ladies

Full back Rose Dixon makes a break
Nic Elvidge leads the Navy Women attack
Senior XV player, Cheryl Goodwin showed the way
Rhiann Dilmore returns to the squad at the end of the Rugby League season

The first match of the season for the Royal Navy Rugby Women's Development side was a great success with a mix of existing players and new recruits taking to the pitch at Burnaby Road last Wednesday to play a fun, fast-paced game of rugby against Havant Ladies.

Although the final score reflected a Havant win, 15 - 26, the evening was an unqualified success for the Royal Navy Rugby Union Women.  Amongst the 7 new faces taking part in the training session and benefitting from playing a competitive game were two brand new players who had first been attracted to playing rugby at the RNRU Beach Rugby festival held on Weymouth Beach in July.

Assistant Director of Rugby, Paula Bennett-Smith, was joined by RNRU Vice President, Commodore Ellie Ablett and Director of Rugby Captain Roger Readwin, to witness first-hand the excitement and determination on the faces of the players.

The Navy Women started well, taking the game to Havant from the off.  As they worked the ball up the pitch Havant were penalised for being offside and Rhiann Dilmore stepped forward to put the first points on the board for the Navy 3 - 0.  Havant didn't take long to respond and found a way through the Navy defensive line, touching down with the first converted try of the game 3 - 7.  Then followed a period of Havant dominance, the Royal Navy Women repelled a series of attacks but eventually Havant found the overlap and scored out wide, 3 - 12.

From the restart the Royal Navy were determined to close the gap.  A series of passes found the ball in the capable hands of Rose Dixon, her pace down the wing allowed her to make a break and she went over for 5 points.  Rhiann Dilmore narrowly missed the long conversion and the score board read 8 - 12.

There was just time for the Havant Ladies to reassert their dominance with another try before the half time whistle when they exploited a gap in the inexperienced Navy defence.  At half time the Havant Ladies had the lead 8 - 19.

The second half started in a similar way to the first; fly half Cheryl Goodwin made a break and was well supported, the result was another Navy try, by prop Hannah Cole.  Rhiann Dilmore stepped up for the kick and added another two points to the score 15 - 19.  As the clock counted down further breaks from Lily Adams and Steph Armstrong were thwarted by a strong Havant defence.  RNRU Women's Development head coach, Chats Harris made some replacements, giving the new players the opportunity to experience the excitement of playing contact rugby and Steph Garrett and Maria Law stepped onto the pitch to replace Rhiann Dilmore and Steph Armstrong. 

Havant took advantage of the changes and exerted themselves, skilfully playing a series of pick and gos.  However the Navy defence held strong and prevented any score.  The frustration was showing in the Havant side and after a series of minor infringments, RNRU referee Del McKnight had to show a yellow card to one of the Havant replacements.  The Navy tried to capitalise on being a player up and despite a great run by Steph Garrett in her first competitive match, they could not cross the line.  The final score went to Havant, restored to a full squad, 15 - 26.

The spectators and players were all clearly delighted with result, although not a home win, it was a great game of rugby to watch on a Wednesday evening and very pleasing for Navy Rugby to see the increase in the number of Women playing rugby, and in the Autumn too.  The next fixture for the Women's Development team will be played at Yeovilton RFC on 31 Oct 18, when they take on local opposition Yeovil Ladies. 

For more information about Women's Rugby contact the team manager 07718 161 036 or email

Team list: 1. Katie Ives (team captain) 2. Alex Green 3. Hannah Cole 4. Abi Sondack 5. Abi Gilbertson 7. Rhiann Dilmore 8. Nic Elvidge 9. Elle Bythell 10. Cheryl Goodwin 11. Steph Armstrong 12. Nia Robinson 13. Steph Coles 14. Lilly Adams 15. Rose Dixon
Replacements 16. Steph Garrett 17. Maria Law
(Played 14 a side)

Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © Keith Woodland