HMS Somerset v FNS Primauget
On Monday 13th July 2015 HMS Somerset had pulled out of her home port of Plymouth expecting to be heading towards Liverpool for a UK Port Visit, onboard Somerset her Rugby team were planning to attend a Northern Region 7's Tournament on Sunday 19th July which would have seen them come up against some of the best amateur teams in the North West. However that was soon about to change, the Commanding Officer addressed the Ship's Company to explain they had been given a last minute programme change and were heading further North and so the journey to Reykjavik had begun.
With a busy Ship's Programme over the last few months there has been little opportunity for Somerset RFC to stretch their legs, with the news of a visit change coming as a bit of a disappointment on a Rugby front there was little time to try and organise a different fixture in a completely different country, but when one door closes another one opens and with that Somerset were in line for not one but two days of Rugby during their stay in Iceland.
The first opportunity came in the form of a friendly 7's Tournament between Somerset RFC, the Reykjavik Raiders and FNS Primaugeut who also happened to be berthed in the harbour for the weekend.
Somerset RFC had boarded the coach with 12 lads ready for their first game in a couple of months and headed through Reykjavik, taking in the sights and scenary as they made their way to the 'Hlidarendi Sports Fields' about 20 minutes away from the Ship.
On arrival they were introduced to a giant of a man called Birnir Petursson who was the Chairman of Rugby Iceland, his name Birnir loosely translated to 'Bear' in English and by the size of him that was apt! Once all the pleasantries between the 3 sides were completed there was a brief discussion regarding refereeing and language barriers and then the draw was made. Somerset RFC had drawn the long straw which meant they didn't have to play two games in a row, a slight victory if nothing else.
Once all of the Teams had warmed up and the Team Captains had greeted each other, Somerset RFC would kick the afternoon off by playing the Raiders in the first match.
The long lay off in playing time was apparent with Somerset as they struggled to find their rhythm, especially in the first 5 minutes in a fast and frantic game like 7's. Somerset found themselves 2 tries down within that time and dusting themselves off they slowly began to find their rhythm. By the end of the half they had pulled a converted try back through LET(ME) Marika Lavelawa and the score was 10-7. Team Captain LS(SEA) Christopher Evans rallied the lads at half time and the second half was a different game altogether. Somerset had found a rhythm, they were blitzing the Raiders and winning turnovers for fun and in 3 frantic minutes they were 2 tries up through
LET(WE) James Roberts and ET(ME) Liam Williams bringing the score to 10-17. The remainder of the half belonged to Somerset who ran in 2 more tries courtesy of ET(WE) Nick Oldham who with his first touch of the ball ran from his own 22 to touch down and PO(ETME) Kenneth Obure who had briefly shown his nifty footwork and evasion skills from his days playing 7s back in Kenya to avoid a couple of tackles and run the ball home. With one of the tries converted Somerset sat on a comfortable 10-29 lead with a couple of minutes to go. With the last play of the game the Raiders ran in one more converted try to finish the game 17-29.
The second game saw the Raiders come up against the French Naval Ship Primaugeut, it was a slightly one sided affair with Raiders winning 26-7, which gave Somerset confidence going into their next game.
A few changes were made to the Somerset team with the more inexperienced lads getting a run out, AB(WS) Christopher Hudson was playing only his second game as was Nick Oldham who had already scored in the previous match. LS(UW) Alexander Griffiths came on too and Kenny Obure kept his slot out wide.
Somerset's second game was a lot like the first, the new lads were finding their feet and getting into a rhythm while the French were trying their utmost to stamp their authority on proceedings. Early on in the first half Somerset found themselves 5 points down after their inexperienced line was broken and the French fly half was too quick to catch, he missed the resulting conversion. Nevertheless Somerset kept at it and Oldham was on hand to score again, this time stepping an opponent before running in unchallenged from 40 yards out to tie the game at half time. LPT Sam Sims, Evans and LET(ME) Joe Pugh came on for the second half and straight away Somerset gained the upper hand with Sims collecting a ball in his own half to step 2 French opponents and bear down on the try line before stepping inside a third before putting the ball down, he missed the conversion. 5-10 to Somerset and the momentum began to gather, with the remaining 5 minutes of the game Somerset had scored through Williams, Roberts, Lavelawa and Pugh with only Williams converting his score to make the score 5-32. All of the tries were well worked with the Somerset boys using the ball well and manipulating the gaps in the French defence. The final whistle finally came with Somerset finishing comfortable winners.
At the end of the final game, Somerset was crowned Tournament Victors in what was an extremely friendly tournament though it took nothing away from the spectacle; tackles were still made with zest; the ball was run back hard and everyone who took part really enjoyed themselves. Rugby is a very small sport in Iceland but with that tournament taking place in their busiest sports centre it began to open the eyes of the locals and by the time the last game had finished a sizeable crowd had gathered to watch and by all accounts they enjoyed what they saw.
After the game all of the players went to a nice restaurant in town and do what they do best, reminisce over a cold beer and a sing a couple of songs.
The next encounter would see Somerset RFC play the Raiders again at the same field a couple of days later when the forwards would be joining them for a full 15 aside fixture (report to follow).
LPT Sam Sims
ET(ME) Liam Willaims
AB(SEA) Joshua Such
AET Joshua Welch
ET(ME) Geraint Bailyes
LET Marika Lavelawa
LET(WE) James Roberts
ET(WE) Nick Oldham
LS(SEA) Chris Evans
LS(UW) Alexander Griffiths
AB(WS) Christopher Hudson
LET(ME) Joe Pugh
PO(ETME) Kenneth Obure