Albion's Shietwetter Cup Ended by the Scandinavian Swans

ALBION RFC assembled.
US Marines deployed from HMS Albion in Ex CONDOR STRIKE as part of BALTOPS 23.
HMS ALBION celebrates UKNLAF 50th Anniversary as part of the wider deployment which culminated in Kiel Week.

In a picturesque summer setting at Kiel RFC's home ground, HMS Albion RFC participated in the 30th Kiel Week Shietwetter Cup. Although most of the squad had enjoyed two sequential days of social events, a good contingent of over 15 players made it to the ground. Some players barely made it back onboard before the squad set off for the tournament.

Kiel RFC, which impeccably organized the event, began the day with a Captains meet at 9 am, where the rules for the day were discussed, and the schedule was handed out. HMS Albion RFC came prepared with refreshments for a long day of 7's Rugby matches. The men's pool stages featured 15 teams from Germany, Lithuania, and the Royal Navy (RN), divided into four pools of four teams and one pool of three teams. The pool winners advanced to the semi-finals, while the runners-up proceeded to the Bowl, and the remaining teams competed for the Plate.

HMS Albion was in Pool C with two other teams due to a late withdrawal, resulting in a bye for their first match. The team had to wait for their second match, but with plenty of liquid refreshments, they were ready to hit the pitch at 11:00 am.

In their first match against Tapia Invitational 7, a team with ambitions of winning the Cup, Tapia took an early lead with an unconverted score. However, HMS Albion responded explosively, with a collective team effort leading to tries scored by CH Fitzy Fitzgerald, LET James Park, and MNE Dane from 45 Cdo RM. At halftime, HMS Albion led 21-5. Despite a long-range effort from Tapia, HMS Albion secured a solid victory with a final score of 28-12.

The next pool game was against Kiel Old Boys, a team with players over 40 years old. Underestimating their opponents, HMS Albion struggled initially and didn't play with the same intensity as before. Both sides showed strong defensive efforts, but post halftime, HMS Albion found their rhythm and managed to score quickly with LET (ME) James Park, AB Tom Hind, and CPL Conner Sadler from 45 Cdo RM. However, they lost focus in the last minutes, conceding tries to Kiel Old Boys, leading to a close 19-15 victory for HMS Albion.

In the Cup semi-final against Scandinavian Swans, HMS Albion faced a more formidable opponent determined to reach the final. The Swans dominated possession, keeping HMS Albion on the back foot and securing a 17-0 lead by halftime. Despite a valiant effort and a try by L/CPL Charlie Morton-Morgan from 45 Cdo RM, HMS Albion couldn't match the Swans' pace and conceded three more tries, ending the match with a 36-5 scoreline.

HMS Albion's journey in the Shietwetter Cup concluded there, but some players assisted other clubs in the Plate and Bowl competitions due to injuries, gaining valuable game time with SV Odin and the Belly Goats. Overall, it was a fantastic couple of days, and for ships visiting Kiel during the festival, participating in this well-organized and established 7s tournament provided an enjoyable experience during Kielewoche.

HMS ALBION: CPL John Mansfield, L/CPL Charlie Morton-Morgan, AB(EW) Tom Hind, MNE Rhys Garbutt, LAET(ME) Tommo Thompson, CH Skull Karikaritu, LET(ME) John Park, LET (ME) Jonny Stupple, ET(ME) Alex Parry, LALET(ME) Joey Croft, CPL Conner Slader, MNE Ben Simpson, LET(WE) Lewis Harris, MNE Morgan Fitzgerald, Mr Joss Griffiths.

Words by WO1 Bruce Walmsley; Images by Bruce Walmsley and PO Haore