U23s Unveil New Look Team

Gareth John Rees rewarded for a very successful summer with the Sharks
Joe Burton one of only three players to remain from the U23XV Inter Service match against the Army
After a full on game on Friday against Blackheath, experienced U23 Greg Loydall will start on the bench
The U23 XV will unveil the new home shirt for the 2015/16 season
Team – a new season and a new identity, only three players remain from last season’s Inter Service game against the Army

A very busy seven days of Navy Rugby continues on Sunday at US Portsmouth’s Burnaby Road ground when the Royal Navy U23 XV entertains Hampshire U20s on their first step towards the 2015 Inter Service championship.  The squad has a full programme before the 11 November championship opener away to the Royal Air Force and they will be looking to set out their stall on Sunday before consolidating against Havant midweek.

A successful open invitation trial weekend at the start of last month has allowed the recruitment net to be cast across the Fleet and the first team selection includes a number of players new to Royal Navy representative rugby.  Indeed only three players, Harrison Marsh, Joe Burton and Greg Loydall survive from the last U23XV match.  However skipper Mark Dowds can call on some experienced heads with Grant Hill, and Alex Cragg along with  Joe Burton and Greg Loydall recently wearing the Senior XV jersey for the IDRC warm up game against Blackheath.

Dowds will also be utilising the experience of fellow prop Harrison Marsh to drive the forward effort.  He will look to Sharks player, Gareth John Rees to provide control from half back whilst the versatile skills of Rob McGregor will bring suitable experience to the key mid field unit.

Though Hampshire were victorious last week against the Army, little will be gained by making comparisons as they will be looking to utilise all their resources before their season starts in earnest in February.  However that first hit out will give them early advantage over such a new look Navy side who know they will face a stern test and have to come together as a team quickly.

By the very nature of age group rugby each year sees significant change as a new look team seeks to find its own identity and purpose before building towards the Inter Service challenge.  Sunday will also see the team sporting the new Royal Navy Rugby Union identity as they give the 2015/16 home shirt its first public airing.  However although the jersey looks the part, as ever with Navy Rugby it remains the heart of the man within the shirt that counts.

A start of an important week for both the Seniors and the U23s and both teams will look forward to the traditional strong US Portsmouth support.  Sunday and Wednesday gives the chance to cast an eye over the exciting future blood of Navy Rugby whilst Thursday sees a very early arrival of competition rugby as the IDRC kicks off.

Royal Navy U23 XV v Hampshire U20s:

Mark Dowds(c), Isaac Salt, Harrison Marsh, Alex Cragg, Dan Mason, Gavin Elsam, Liam Williams, Joe Gatenby, Gareth John Rees, Nick Burgess, Luke Warrington, Craig Jones, Rob McGregor, Brendan Streather, Rhys Dimmock-Williams

Repalcements from: Joe Burton, Grant Hill, Luke Jones, Ben Borman, Lewis Cronin, George Gissing, Apenisa Daunibau, Grge Loydall, Mark Burnell

The new Under Armour 2015/2016 Royal Navy Rugby Union shirt is available to order online now.

Next Match

Royal Navy U23 XV v Hampshire U20 @ US Portsmouth RFC, Sun 4 Oct KO 14:00

Future Games

Royal Navy U23 XV v Havant @  US Portsmouth RFC, Wed 7 Oct KO 19:00

Inter Service Championship Matches

RAF U23 XV v Royal Navy U23XV @ RAF Halton, Wed 11 Nov KO 13:30

Royal Navy U23 XV v Army U23 XV @ US Portsmouth RFC, Wed 18 Nov KO 19:00

Images by Alligin Photography / © G Ashton Jones