Tough Night in Richmond


RN Senior XV


Richmond FC

Photo Credit: Alligin Photography for RNRU
Photo Credit: Alligin Photography for RNRU
Photo Credit: Alligin Photography for RNRU
Photo Credit: Alligin Photography for RNRU
Photo Credit: Alligin Photography for RNRU
Photo Credit: Alligin Photography for RNRU
Photo Credit: Alligin Photography for RNRU
Photo Credit: Alligin Photography for RNRU

The Royal Navy Rugby Union Senior Men were hosted by Richmond Vikings this week in a rematch of the thrilling game that was to be the last Navy match before the Covid 19 Pandemic. The atmosphere was buzzing with expectation following the nail-biter victory in Cambridge the week before and it was the Navy who kicked off on the clear winter’s evening. 

At full-tilt the dark blue fifteen hit the yellow, red, and black jerseys of the hosts and it was second-row, Hughan, who put in an early thumping tackle on the ball carrier leading to the first scrum of the match 40 metres from the Vikings line. But the Vikings immediately showed their set piece dominance and forced a reset of the scrum which they took control of. Further scrum infringements led to the referee playing advantage to Richmond culminating in the penalty which they kicked for touch nearing the Navy’s 22.  The Richmond throw-in was not straight and the  Navy were afforded the opportunity to attack in Richmond territory with a kick to touch from the penalty. But alas the Navy were penalised in their line-out and once more the hosts regained the upper hand. After 5 minutes of thrilling entertainment for the crowd in the stand and on the touchline, the sides looked evenly matched.

Another penalty for the Vikings saw the hosts launch the ball deep into the Navy’s half. But the Navy’s defence held strong and won the turn-over from the line-out. The Navy’s scrum half, Petersen, kicked from the back of the scrum, but in the following open play the Navy were penalised just 15 metres from their own line. The Vikings kicked to the corner and began a forwards’ led sequence which would be repeated more than once in the first half. From the line-out the Navy faced an intimidating Vikings’ drive for the line leading to the first try of the night in the corner for the hosts which was not converted. 

After the restart, the Navy gained turn-over ball in the loose and full-back, Duncan, made a spirited darting run towards the host’s line ending by being tackled into touch inside the hosts’ 22. The Vikings won the ball and followed by another scudding kick of the ball into touch on the Navy’s 22. After 15 minutes the hosts preferred option was obvious for all to see – kick to the corner, win the line-out and get the forwards to drive over in the corner. And so, the hosts once more delivered this pattern of play and kicked to the corner, won the line-out and the forwards pushed over the rolling maul for the five points. Again, the conversion kick taken from the edge of the pitch failed to find the target. 

Navy won back possession after the restart, and inside centre, Tupholme, made a break exploiting a gap in the hosts’ backline defence. And the Vikings were penalised for not releasing. Tupholme received medical treatment and the two sides resumed with a scrum. The Navy awarded a penalty kicked for touch. But the Vikings stole the ball in the line-out and relaunched their attack wide across the pitch through the hands of their backline and into the Navy’s half. On the Navy’s 5m line the hosts were awarded a penalty and once again kick to touch for an attacking line-out. And for the third time in the first quarter of the match the Vikings forwards steamed over for the try, unconverted. 

Undaunted the Navy won a scrum after the restart. This time it was the Navy’s backline that provided the crowd with a text-book display of passing through the backline. But the ball overreached Navy wing, Rudder, and went into touch. The hosts’ throw was not straight and at the half-way line the two teams scrummed down. A penalty against the Vikings and Navy kicked for the corner. 15 metres from the hosts line and with ball in hand Navy flanker and the side’s captain, Hayler, burst across the game-line and sucked in a desperate Vikings’ defence. Battering forward the Navy’s hooker, Bick, scored the try, (not converted).

Half an hour played, and the game got underway with a kicking dual during which Navy full-back, Duncan, demonstrated a safe pair of hands under pressure. The Vikings regained the ball and the Vikings full-back ran in from 25 metres for their fourth try, (unconverted). 

The next ten minutes saw the Navy spend more time in the Vikings’ territory and the relenting pressure paid off. Following a penalty awarded to the Navy and a kick to the corner for an attacking line-out the Navy’s pack kept the ball in hand and the backrow got within range of the Vikings’ try line. Navy flanker and captain, Halyer, grounded the ball and won a hard-fought 5 points, which was converted. The half ended 20 – 12. 

The second half began with the Vikings spinning the ball out to their backs to score 2 tries in quick succession in the first 5 minutes from the restart, (32 -12). And the hosts’ dominance continued with 2 more tries being scored before the final whistle. But in the sixty-fifth minute of the game the Navy regained the run of play and then spent periods of time inside the hosts’ 22. An attacking line-out with a Navy throw-in marked the start of a valiant fight-back for the last quarter of the game. The Vikings gained the put-in to the scrum as they sought to defend against a resurgent Navy. The hosts made a foray into the Navy’s half but were held back and the Vikings’ backline failed to reach the Navy’s try-line with the Viking’s wing stepping into touch. In the dying moments of the game the Navy continued to attack and were awarded a penalty 30 metres out and then another, each time choosing to kick for the attacking line-out. The final play of the game from a Navy line-out just metres from the try-line ended in a knock-forward and the referee brought the evening to a close soon after the final Vikings’ scrum. 

Final score: Richmond Vikings - 46, Royal Navy Rugby Union Senior Men - 12

Line Up

1. LET(ME) Richie Ives
2. AET Connor Bick
3. LAET Chris Warner
4. AB(D) Gav Hughan
5. MNE Josh Williams
6. MNE Toby Papp
7. Lt Jarrard Hayler RM (Captain)
8. MNE Rory Mitchell
9. MNE Alex Petersen
10. AET Jordan Gott
11. MNE Remi Norville
12. Lt Luke Tupholme
13. LCpl Kai Baker
14. AET Jerome Rudder
15. MNE Craig Duncan

POAET Kye Beasley, Lt Louis Frankland RN, LA(AH) Ben Watson, MNE Joe Richards, PO(SET) Ashley Wakefield, Lt Mitchell Spencer RN, AB(D) Jack Goodey, LAET Sam Carter, POAET Ben Chambers, AET Dan Rutter, AB(CS) Ben Raivalitia, AB (AWW) Jake Hanley, AET Sean Mackerville, MNE Tom Briggs 


Full public gallery here.

Match Report: Jon Wheale