Progress for the Royal Navy at their second 7s tournament


RN Sharks


SW 7s Bristol Plate Final

Roko shows off his kicking skills
Rachel Carragher on her way to score for the Makos
On the way to a try for the Stingrays
Sharks captain Mne Seva Naulago
Luke Cooper ready to pass
A determined Billi Staite in action
Charlie Heard gets some air time!

The building blocks for the RNRU 7s have now been set and on Saturday all 3 Royal Navy Rugby Union 7s sides were in action in Cleve, Bristol competing in the South West 7s Tournament.  The teams ended the day lifting 3 new trophies - what a great result!

The teams met for a day of preparations at Azimghur Barracks, home of the 21st Signals Regiment who kindly allowed their facilities to be used for the duration of the RNRU 7s' stay.  New players for this tournament included Ed Holland, Jerome Rudder, Craig Duncan and Scott Bentley who were introduced to the plays and levels of intensity required to compete.  It was also a pleasure to see new ladies willing to give up their weekends to play rugby they included Emma Smith, Yvonne Mealy and Rachel Carragher.  With 12 female players committed for the weekend tournament it is a clear indication that the sport is growing in popularity.

RN Makos
The mens 7s teams welcomed the Makos to their first tournament of the season and having a full squad was always going to be a bonus.  With players of mixed abilities the Makos were out to enjoy themselves and have fun playing rugby.  The tournament was the first of the season it was a good test of ability for the squad to see what they could achieve, the aim was to have fun.  Their first game against Bath Ladies was a tough start to the day.  The Bath Ladies moved the ball around but the Makos defended well but at times were a little out of position which created the space for Bath Ladies to score.  With both sides settling into the game Cheryl Goodwin finished a well worked move with a score and the game ended 5 - 27 to Bath Ladies.

In the second-round game they faced Cullompton Ladies.  This was a tougher game but the Makos were steadily improving.  Cullompton scored first but Hannah Kemish responded to level the score 5 - 5, but just before the whistle Cullompton scored again 10 - 5 HT. After the break Cullompton scored again and it was just before the end when Abi Ashby scored out wide to finish the game Cullompton 17- 10 RN Makos.

With the Ladies finishing 3rd in the group they were placed in the Bowl final where they faced Tabard.  Game by game the Makos have developed their skills, their ball control and running lines improved which allowed Olivia Critchley to score 2 and Rachel Carragher to score 3 and a lone conversion from Cheryl Goodwin ensured the win 27 - 5 for the Makos to lift the bowl! 

RN Stingrays
After their first tournament the Stingrays regrouped and worked hard on their preparations for the South West  Being a development squad they welcomed rugby league converts Ed Holland, Markia Thinabinawa and Craig Duncan who travelled down from Scotland.  The first game of the day was against the South Wales Wildcats who had beaten them last time out so the lads were looking for revenge.  The game was one-way, Duncan scored 4, Roko Kurusasa 3 and Adan Gallagher 2, with some conversions being made resulting in the final score 59 - 0 to the Stingrays. 

In the second game against the Maesteg 47s the scoring continued, the plays were working and the space was being created.  Callum Patterson was influential with his off loads and team captain for the day James O’Rourke battled hard and controlled the defence never allowing the opposition to pass ending the game with another win 56 - 5.  The final game in the group was against the Southern Spearheads.  After a great start to the tournament this game was a bit of a shock or shall I say a grounding, the Spearheads were organised in attacked and defence and the Stingrays found it tough.  2 tries from Gallagher and 1 from Duncan ensured they stayed undefeated and a 19- 19 draw was a fair result, but with the greater points difference the Stingrays fished top of their group and progressed to the play-offs. 

The Whitehead Stags were the next opposition.  The Stingrays re-grouped and started fast and hard with quick scores from Duncan and Patterson to take an early lead 14 - 0.  But the tackles were hard and it was turning into physical game with neither side willing to budge.  Just before half time O’Rourke scored 19 -0.   In the second half the tempo never changed; Gallagher and O’Rourke bagged another before the Stags collected a consolation try to finish the game 33 - 5 and the Stingrays progressed to the social cup final. 

The final was against the Avonmouth Assassins.   Jaco Mybrugh finished a well worked break from Dec Johnson to score first 7 - 0, from the restart Marika Thinabinawa gathered and linked with Scott Bentley to let Duncan score 17 - 0 at half time.  The second hard saw some great defence from the Stags; they didn't allow the Stingrays to score and got a try of their own just before the final whistle, final score 17 - 5 and the Stingrays were the social cup winners.  A great game played by 2 good sides with some show case rugby on display, well done to the ever-improving Stingrays - a great performance.

RN Sharks
The Sharks made a few changes to the starting side with Kyle Wood, Matt Holland and Matt Horton returning from last season and they welcomed Jerome Rudder (Hampshire U20s and Havant player) who has just joined HMS Sultan as an Air Engineering Technician. The first game was against the Hurn Airport Windsocks.  Charlie Heard scored first before the Windsocks responded 7 - 5, then the fast feet of Rhys Dimmock-Williams escaped the defenders to score under the posts for a 14 - 5 half time lead. After the break Troy Goby influenced the game with the slip of a tackle to break free and score 21 - 5.  The Windsocks responded but Dimmock-Williams closed the scoring to finish 26 - 10.  Round 2 saw the Sharks take on the army side the Sappers, a very experienced side full of Islander talent.  The army team were first to score but Goby closed the gap at half time 5 - 7.  After a stern team chat the Sharks upped the tempo with Ross Williams and Kyle Wood scoring some well worked tries to take the lead 15 - 7 before Williams added 2 more to complete the scoring and secure the win 27 - 7. 

With a different format being followed the top 4 teams now played a round robin to determine the cup and plate finals, the first game was against Gogerddan Raiders and they were the team which played the best, they were more controlled in the first half and pulled ahead with the scores 5 - 19 at half time.  The Raiders scored first in the second half and the Sharks never really recovered, Seva Naulago and Williams added a try each to get within two scores but the was not enough an dthe full time score was 17 - 26.  The next team up were the Ponty Butchers an elite team playing lots of local tournaments around the country and they scored first before Seva levelled 7- 7.  The Butchers scored again before half time 7 - 12.  From the restart Goby scored out wide but failed with the conversion 12 - 12, then just before full time the Butchers scored in the corner to win 12 - 19 and the Sharks having lost their second game went on to compete in the Plate final versus the Godfathers. 

The Plate final was physical and clinical, both teams were strong and tight.  Jerome Rudder scored his first try of the tournament to take an early lead 5 - 0 but soon after the Godfathers rallied to bag 2 tries to lead 5 - 10 at half time.  After the first few phases of play in the second half Dimmock-Williams broke free and scored with Horton converting 12 - 10, on the 10 min mark the Godfathers scored again to take the lead 12 - 15, but on the 13th min Williams broke the game line and scored out wide to win the game and the Plate 17 - 15.

What a fantastic weekend for the 7s teams, Bowl winners for the Makos, an Open plate win for the Sharks and a Social Cup win for the Stingrays, with more players wanting to get involved this will be very much a positive for Navy Rugby.  With new players wanting to improve their skills ready for the new 15s season by starting to play 7s they are able to learn how to create space and how to play with the ball at times when they are under pressure, where one mistake can result in a conceded try.  Next up are the Sharks and Stingrays in action at the Abingdon 7s on Saturday 30th June 2018.

Team list:

RN Sharks: S.Naulago (team captain), M.Holland, B,Jeacock(vice captain) ,C.Heard, R.Dimmock-Williams, L.Cooper, K.Wood, T.Goby, C.Mean, R.Williams, J.Rudder, M.Horton.
RN Stingrays: J.O’Rourke (team captain), J.Myburgh, E.Holland, A.Gallagher, D.Johnson, C.Duncan, D.Hemming, M.Thinabinawa(vice captain), R.Kurusasa, B.Allen, S.Bentley.
RN Makos: C.Goodwin, O.Critchley, C.Fredrickson, B.Staite, E.Smith, D.Powell, Y.Mealy, A.Sondack, R.Carragher, A.Ashby, M.Collier, H.Kemish.

Words: Guy Pallett
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton