HMS DUNCAN Rugby Team face the Italian Veterans


HMS Duncan


Veteran Rugby Catania

HMS Duncan’s first rugby match of the season (and deployment) brought together a squad of 22 players with a variety of experience levels including several new to the game. A short notice port visit would not normally allow for a match to be arranged but a request from the local veterans' team provided an ideal training opportunity that could not be missed. The team also invited players from the FS Joubert to attend the session. On arrival it was decided to play 4 quarters rather than 2 halves; this was mainly due to the age difference between the teams. In order to maintain fairness and so that HMS Duncan's team could gain the maximum benefit the French players were loaned to the older opposition.

The first quarter commenced with PO Collins acting as the referee and it soon proved that a few good players do not make a strong team. The Ship's team lacked cohesion and flair and with the strong running from the French players in the opposition it was clear that the Duncan team needed to up their game. During the first break a few positions were swapped around and coach CPO Smith prompted the team to forget trying to be superstars and to focus on playing basic rugby.

The second quarter started with greater momentum from Duncan's team and good strong basic forward play enabled ET(CIS) Gill to cross the try line in the 30th minute for the first score of the game, this was swiftly converted by ET(WE) Howells, 0 - 7.  However the lead was short lived and soon afterwards the hosts equalised with a fine display of running lines from the French centres, 7 - 7.

With a few more position changes at the start of the 3thir quarter Duncan looked promising with a good series of play seeing the forwards and backs interlinking resulting in a disallowed try; again during this quarter it was the speed and ball skills of the French players that led to the second converted try for the opposition, 7 - 14.

The fourth quarter saw both teams start to run out of steam so much so that the Veterans called time after 10 minutes. Although the match was lost it was a very pleasing start to Duncan’s rugby tour (also known as an operational deployment) with a large squad to choose from and serious competition for positions. The coaching staff of CPO Smith and MA Dilmore have found themselves in a challenging situation when selecting a first team.  With a growing squad and a strong set of supporters the team are looking forward to their next match.

Words Chris Smith
Images Crown Copyright/© LPhot Hall