Royal Navy Senior Men Start Season in Taunton


RN Senior XV


Taunton RFC

The Royal Navy Senior Men’s XV started their 2022 campaign at Veritas Park with a well-fought 33-17 loss to Taunton RFC.  

This match was only the second time this Royal Navy side have played since the start of the pandemic and the first since their initial outing against the Cornish Pirates in September 2021.  With an aim of building a squad for the annual Inter-Service Championships, the team will be pleased with their performance against the National League One Side.  

From the start, the Navy showed their attacking intent with a perfectly placed kick and they had the first try-scoring opportunity of the game, but the Taunton defence managed to ground the ball in their own goal area and reset.  A series of scrums and penalties then saw Taunton move their way back down the pitch and set up camp in the Royal Navy’s 22.  Strong tackles from back row partners Mne Joe Richards and No.8 AB(D) Gav Hughan held the Royal Navy defence firm, but the set piece became more challenging as the rain began to fall.  Eventually they were penalised at their own defensive lineout and a quick penalty from Taunton resulted in a try after 15 minutes.  

After the restart, the Royal Navy went on the counter-attack and scrum half Mne Alex Peterson made a scything run through the Taunton defence, offloading to centre Lt Luke Tupholme who was held up short of the line.  A succession of free-kicks and penalties in the Taunton 22 eventually provided Mne Peterson the chance to snipe around the corner and score for the Royal Navy. 

The remainder of the first half required another big defensive effort from the Royal Navy, but Taunton managed to exploit a slightly narrow defence, scoring a try on the wing.  Shortly afterwards, another defensive lineout by the Royal Navy was penalised and Taunton scored their third try in similar fashion to the first.  With the score at 19-5 and the clock at 40 minutes, nobody was expecting a Royal Navy counter-attack, but fly half AET Dan Rutter received the ball from a scrum and kicked it through for winger AET Jerome Rudder to chase and score in the corner.  

The second half began with another wave of Taunton attacks, including a very accurate cross-field kick to their winger.  Second-row PO(SET) Ashley Wakefield found himself defending alone on the wing, in a similar situation to England’s Cowan-Dickie, but elected to put a huge hit on the winger and win the ball back for the Royal Navy.  After 30 minutes of sustained attack, Taunton eventually found space on the wing and scored twice more, taking the score to 33-10.  

The final 10 minutes of the game was a period of resurgence for the Royal Navy and they made several impressive attacks from their scrum.  A quick pick-up from replacement scrum-half AB Mitieli Ravudolo allowed the Royal Navy’s Hungarian International flanker Mne Toby Papp to slice through the Taunton defence and score under the posts.  Several more Royal Navy attacks were snuffed out or held up on the line and they will be disappointed to not have taken more points away from those final minutes, with the final score 33-17.

Although Taunton were dominant for large periods of the game, the Royal Navy defence proved difficult to break down and they showed the resilience and energy to counter-attack at every opportunity.  Centre Lt Luke Tupholme and No.8 AB(D) Gav Hughan were both critical in defence and attack, with AB(D) Hughan winning the Man of the Match award.  

Line Up:

1 - S/Lt Russel Orr Burns RN, 2 - LPT Ben Priddey (Captain), 3 – LA(AH) Ben Watson, 4 – PO(SET) Ashley Wakefield, 5 – AB Dan Macadams, 6 – MNE Joe Richards, 7 – Lt Mitchell Spencer RN, 8 – AB(D) Gav Hughan, 9 – MNE Alex Petersen, 10 – AET Dan Rutter, 11 – AET Jerome Rudder, 12 – Lt Luke Tupholme RN, 13 – AET Adam King, 14 – AB(CS) Ben Raivalitia, 15 – MNE Rory Dingemans


16 – AET Connor Bick,  17 – LET(ME) Richie Ives, 18 – ET(ME) Dom Cleverley, 19 – ET(WE) Matt Scott, 20 – LS(HM) John Kirwan, 21 – AB(D) Jack Goodey, 22 – MNE Toby Papp, 23 – AB Mitieli Ravudolo, 24 – AB (AWW) Jake Hanley, 25 – MNE Remi Norville, 26 – MNE Kane Teear-Bourge, 27 – POAET Ben Chambers, 28 – Lt Rory O’Brian RM, 29 – AB Kiniviliame Dakuiliga

Match Report by: James Still