Determined Royal Navy Women unable to halt dominant Army


RN Womens XV


Army Women

The RNRU Women’s team 2018
Team captain Sam Alderson scores the Navy’s 3 points
Rose Dixon going in for the tackle
Rachel Carragher wins her first Royal Navy cap, presented by Captain Ellie Ablett
Nic Elvidge on the attack
Royal Navy win the line out

A determined performance from the Royal Navy Rugby Union Women as the Army secures the 2018 Inter Services Championship at Kneller Hall.

A large crowd gathered at Kneller Hall to watch the Army Women and Royal Navy Rugby Union Women in the final game of the 2018 Women’s Inter Service championship. The final score of 72 - 3 suggests Army dominance, however the Royal Navy Women played with spirit and determination to halt the Army’s onslaught. With ball in hand the Navy frequently challenged the Army’s defensive line but were unable to score a try.

The Army began the match with a strong attack. Sarah Jenkins, Billi Staite and newly capped Rose Dixon , who has only been in the Royal Navy for twelve weeks, all made fantastic tackles to halt the early Army onslaught. Following a scrum, Emily Howard began attacking the Army defence, but was knocked into touch. The Army worked quickly to attack after the line out and eleven minutes into the game scored their first try. Six minutes later a second converted try followed and the score at the end of the first quarter was 12 - 0. A handling error by the Army after the restart gave the Royal Navy Women a strong attacking position, however, the Army managed to turn over the ball and score once more. The Army continued to mount powerful attacks, which despite a determined defence, meant they were able to score a further four tries to end the first half with a 38 - 0 advantage.

The second half began with the Army scoring two tries in quick succession. Head Coach John Manners used the bench to make some changes and the Navy were able to prevent the Army from scoring for the remainder of the third quarter. Eventually the Army broke through again and at the stroke of midday the Army were leading 62 - 0.

The Army once again attacked from the restart, but Emma Swinton turned over the ball and the Royal Navy Women quickly ran into the Army 22. The Royal Navy Women were awarded a penalty; Sam Alderson kicked for goal and the put 3 points onto the board for the Royal Navy Women.  For the Royal Navy Women this was a significant moment – they have not scored a point against the Army Women for five years so this is testament to the progress the team have made this season.

The relentless attacking from the Army began to take its toll on the Royal Navy Women in the final 10 minutes of the match. Two players had to leave the field due to injury and with all replacements used, the Royal Navy Women finished the game with only thirteen players on the field and a score of 72 - 3, which saw the Army win the Inter Service Championship.

Assistant Director of Women's Rugby, Lieutenant Commander Paula Bennett-Smith was impressed with the performance, determination and resilience of the Royal Navy Women’s team. With more Women now regularly playing Rugby in the Royal Navy due to a development programme, the number of players challenging for a position in the team is increasing.

For two young ladies, this day will be forever etched in their memory as the day they won their first Royal Navy cap.  Rachel Carragher and Rose Dixon both had enormous smiles on their faces as they were presented their caps by Captain Ellie Ablett, Royal Navy Rugby Union Vice President, after the match.  Well done to all the team, but particularly to Rachel and Rose.

Team list: Sam Alderson, Olivia Critchley, Rose Dixon, Nicola Elvidge, Billi Staite, Sarah Jenkins, Kirsty Marlor, Katie Ives, Alice Kightley, Kate Parkman, Emily Howard, Yvonne Mealy, Charlotte Fredrickson, Lauren Salisbury, Helen Stevenson, Emily Park, Abigail Sondack, Rachel Carragher, Hannah Cole, Cheryl Goodwin, Drew Powell, Taranaivini Tuivaga, Emma Swinton.

Words: John Brennan
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © Keith Woodland