Russ Sayer, Andy McBeath and Gary Ibbotson all Win Awards on Eve of Army Navy

Russ Sayer receives the Mike Connolly Award from former Scotland captain Kelly Brown.
Andy McBeath and Gary Ibbotson are joint recipients of the 2016 Soapy Watson Award

The Friday before Army Navy is the one occasion each year when three of the Royal Navy’s representative sides are together.  On completion of their shirt presentations the Royal Navy Rugby Union presented two of its end of season awards – The Soapy Watson Award which is for TSG Members and the Mick Connolly Award which is for the Mariners player of the season.

First presented in 2007 the trophy, in memory of Warrant Officer ‘Soapy” Watson is presented to the team support member who has contributed over and above the call of duty. Soapy was the most consummate of team players and his legacy as an administrator continues to this day.  He was instrumental in the first Mariners Inter Service win back in 1996 and would have appreciated their Inter Services victory last year.  Instrumental in that successful season and just about to complete their last season involved with Royal Navy rugby Soapy would have approved of this year’s award going to Gary Ibbotson and Andrew McBeath from the Mariners.  Congratulations to them both.

The Mike Connolly trophy was introduced in the 2012/2013 season and was first presented, by Mike, on the night before the 2013 Army Navy match.  This season is the third occasion it has been awarded and Mike more than anyone would have appreciated the down to earth and honest qualities Russ Sayer brings to the game.  Behind the exciting counter attacks and eye for a break there is a player who continues to work very hard at his game and strives to improve.  This season he has been the heartbeat of the Mariners team and is a deserving recipient of the Mariners most prestigious award.  Congratulations Russ.

Article by Geraint Ashton Jones
Images by Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones