Navy Rugby joins forces with Bahrain RFC
Bahrain Veterans v Combined MCM
On 3 November a team made up from players from the four Mine Counter Measures (MCM) Vessels deployed in the Gulf in support of Operation Kipion took on the Bahrain RFC Veterans side, affectionately known locally as the ‘Golden Oldies’ (though a couple of younger players were required to bolster the backs).
The match was split into four short and sharp periods of 15 minutes on account of the heat and humidity. The MCM team were overwhelmed by numbers in the pack, Bahrain was able to rotate the entire eight each quarter which gave them the edge against their younger opposition. The backs were not so lucky and a number of players needed to take up post out of their customary position on the pitch. The MCM team were again at a disadvantage as some of their more experienced players were at sea; and even after a number of Bahrain players went over to support their ranks, the sailors’ bench was depleted by comparison with the locals.
The run of play evolved in line with pre-match expectations. Bahrain looked to keep the ball tight, with the outside backs rarely being given an opportunity to attack, while the MCMs took advantage of faster legs to create space in the wider channels. This was certainly how the tries were scored, for the most part with Bahrain running close to the break, taking the ball from the scrum-half in wave after wave (Wilson, Adrian, Holloway and Russell). When the ball did go wide after the space was earned, Bahrain substitute outside centre, Woodland, crossed the line out wide on the right, having shrugged off two tiring tacklers.
When they came the MCM team’s tries were spectacular, with clean heels and tired pursuing would-be tacklers. The was plenty of tough grappling at the breakdown, epitomised by De-Banks who appeared to see little of the game, he was that deep in the ruck. Truscott, at 10, threw some sublime flat passes to allow the centres space to exploit the release of Needle (HMS BLYTH) to score his hat trick. Conversions from Lee (Commander UK MCM Force) saw him pip Russell (UK Maritime Component Commander) with a 75% to 40% kick ratio. MCM’s final try was scored by Hadlam, putting the final score at an extremely close 29 – 26 to the Bahrain home side.
Two members of the UKMCC staff donned Bahrain colours, with Gary Russell scoring a try and taking the shots at goal.
After the match, caps were awarded to Campbell-Baldwin (UKMCC) for his first outing as a Bahrain Golden Oldie as well as Steve Ashmore (HMS BANGOR) who, records suggest, having played for Bahrain in the mid-2000s, paid his subs and was therefore entitled to the coveted yellow and black cap.
MCM Team selected from: Lee, Marriner, De-Banks, Needle, McNicholl, Adams, Ryding, Simpson, Hallam, Shahan-Shields, Bayliss, Ashmore, Petken, Otter, Giddings.
Images Royal Navy Rugby Union © M Vickers and logo courtesy of Bahrain RFC