Head Coaches celebrate Navy Rugby Double Inter Service Victory

Head Coaches Ash Coates (RNRU) and Steve Lockton (RNRL) with the hard fought for IS trophies
Silivenusi Buinimasi tackling hard with trademark head bandaging in the 2015 encounter against the Army

Both Rugby codes united on the quayside next to HMS VICTORY to celebrate the success of the Royal Navy Rugby Union and the Royal Navy Rugby League, because for the first time both senior teams are the reigning Inter Service champions.


RNRU and RNRL Head Coaches, Ash Coates and Steve Lockton, cheerfully braved the intrigued stares of the historic dockyard tourists during their photo shoot. Delighted to be able to stand together with the trophies there was remarkably very little banter between the two; both incredibly pleased and proud to be able to celebrate the success of both their teams having achieved an incredible feat.

To have beaten the RAF in such emphatic style,” said Ash “and to keep the Army at arm’s length was a remarkable success and testament to the League boys' hard work and dedication. I look forward to hearing of a repeat performance this autumn when they take on the other two Services again.”

It was mid-September 2015 when the RN hosted the USA Eagles as part of the last Rugby World Cup. One moment you could see Toulon lock Samu Manoa and Saracens’ wing Chris Wyles gracing Burnaby Road and in the next moment the USSG ground staff were preparing the pitch following heavy rain for the two inter service rugby league games.

In many ways, the two sides are finding that every year the skill levels have grown; there is genuine competition for positions and the difference between the Army, RAF and Navy is now down to the finest of margins. Congratulations to the Union team and I promise to hand over the cross-code players in reasonable condition at the end of the League season.” responded Steve.

A number of players enjoy rugby so much they play both League and Union. Perhaps the most well-known is Silivenusi Buinimasi, better known as 'B'. He is the only player to represent both RN winning rugby teams in the same year. Coupled with his role as head coach for the sevens team, the Royal Navy Sharks, B is doing more than his fair share for navy rugby. There are others who play both games well with the likes of Bamford, Satala, Cadmore, Basher, Crofts and Humphrey all highlighted as players for all occasions.

RNRL President RAdm Alex Burton said, “What a great time for navy rugby - to be Inter Service champions across both codes at the same time is a phenomenal achievement and long may it continue. The appropriate level of tension and excitement is building for the start of the League Inter Services and we are hoping for a repeat performance in September. I appreciate it is not immediately on the Union radar but I wish them all the best for next season.”

Full details of the RN Rugby League team build up to September’s Inter Service campaign including the recent State of Origin clash at Headingly.

Article by J Campbell-Baldwin and Keith Humpleby

Images © Crown Copyright & Alligin Photography © John Walton