RN Women’s Development XV beat Northamptonshire Police convincingly


RN Women (Dev)


Northampton Police Ladies

Helen Stevenson going forward
Nic Elvidge attacks the police lines
Rose Dixon looking for space
Megan Musgrave breaking through the police guard
Oli Critchley in close contact
Anne Marie McIntyre converts the final try
The Squad

In a game played by two development sides with rolling substitutes everyone’s a winner. Whilst the result, 46 – 19 to the RN Women’s Development XV, is always important the experience gained by all the players is priceless. The game, well managed by the three RNRURS officials enabled the game to develop and encourage all the players’ experienced or otherwise to give of their best and show their skills in a safe competitive environment.

After days of heavy rain and high winds, Wednesday, 15th January 2020 was dry with light wind at HMS Temeraire where the Royal Navy Women’s Development squad numbering 25 players assembled to play Northamptonshire Police playing their first competitive fixture. Coaches had prepared their teams consisting of a few experienced players and a majority of inexperienced players some playing their first competitive game.

At exactly 1930hrs, Royal Navy Fly-half (10) Nic Elvidge started the game kicking off past the Police 10 metre line where it was collected, driven back towards the halfway line where using their forwards the Police drove into the Navy defence and rewarded with a scrum. Winning the scrum the Police attacked around the fringes where the Navy were penalised for offside. Game on! Defending efficiently the Navy waited for mistakes and when they came broke through the Police lines with Outside Centre Sian McLaughlin (13) running hard into the 22 before passing to Inside Centre Suzan Badger (12) to score the first try. The conversion failed. Four minutes played RN 5 – Northants Police 0. Navy captain, Hooker (2) Hannah Cole received the ball directly from the restart and quickly advanced only to be tackled by the Police defence on halfway, with quick ball and attacking via the Navy forwards until Scrumhalf Bethan Hughes (9) spun the ball wide to Elvidge advancing into the Police 22 before being tackled and turned over allowing the Police clear their line. The Police fly-half (10) whilst trying get on the front foot and make ground although tackled by the combined Navy back row was able to retain the ball and the move continued using the supporting forwards entering the Navy half where a penalty for a high tackle was given, taken quickly with a tap Police continued the offensive in the Navy 22 before losing the ball in contact. Gaining possession the Navy attacked from their own half with Elvidge moving quickly to get behind the Police defence before passing to McLaughlin who was tackled by the Police, forming a ruck, quick thinking Navy Prop (3) Lucy Honeybell attacked around the side of the ruck, with the Police defence in disarray she broke the line passing to Elvidge to score the Navy’s second try. Ten minutes played ten points to the Navy. Score RN 10 Police 0.

From the restart the Navy continued to attack with McLaughlin using her speed to drive deep into the Police half before being tackled, supported by the back row the ball was quickly rucked where Hughes (9) was on hand to score close to the posts, Badger succeeded with the conversion. Navy led 17-0 with 13 minutes played. It was normal service with the Navy continuing to attack with Honeybell seeking contact and drawing in defenders enabling the Navy forwards to recycle the ball quickly, stopping the defenders from regrouping, from the rucks and pick and drive close to the Police 22. With the Police defence desperately trying realign, spoil and slow down the Navy attack, however Navy fullback (15) Abi Ashby joining the line at speed breaking through what remained of the police defence to score the Navies 4th try under the posts, Badger converted the try. RN 24 – Police 0 – 18 minutes played.

With less than 20 minutes on the clock the Police were in trouble, unless they could produce something they were in for a long evening!! With renewed vigour the Police attacked, gaining ground gradually, but with purpose, keeping the ball tight within the forwards. Earning a scrum they were able to advance to the Navy 5 metre line, still using the forwards who sadly were unable to control the ball and a scrum was awarded to the RN. Trying to run the ball out of your own 22 is not always a good idea, tackled, halted and turned over at the subsequent ruck the Police took the maximum advantage scoring a try, which was converted. Score RN 24 – Police 7 – 22 minutes played. Sniffing a weakness after the restart the Police defenders attacked the Navy ball carriers forcing the Ashby (15) in to touch for the first lineout of the game.

Won by the Police but quickly turned over by the Navy at a ruck, but illegally giving the Police a penalty on their 10 metre line. Taking a tap penalty and quickly advancing into the Navy half they were unable to keep possession. It was the turn of the Navy to seek contact but were unable to generate any momentum, back and forth with error after error from both sides until the Police were given a penalty. As usual taking a quick tap attacked the Navy defence which was breached and the Police deservingly had their second try which was unconverted. Score RN 24 – Police 12 – 35 minutes played. With five minutes to halftime and the Police on a roll the Navy dug in, rotating a couple of players to steady the ship and after more errors the Navy broke into the Police half with McLaughlin attacking open space before passing to Rose Dixon (23) operating in the centre who fed the supporting Second-row (4) Helen Stevenson who scored on the stroke of halftime.

Halftime score RN 29 – Northamptonshire Police 12.
With both sides unable to assert any authority and advantage during the first half and the RN with a healthy lead the onus was on Northamptonshire Police to up their game if they were to salvage a win. The Police started with far more commitment and desire forcing the Navy to defend, camping inside the Navy 22, retaining possession and forcing themselves over the Navy line only to be held up resulting in a scrum on the 5 metre line. The Police maintained the pressure, winning the scrum, using their back row to again mount an offensive close to the Navy try line. As the Police exerted pressure, the Navy forwards with the backrow of Tyler Dunmow (6), Megan Musgrave (7) and Anne Marie McIntyre (8) to the fore gradually got the upper hand forcing the Police backwards at each breakdown and eventually turning the ball over, enabling Musgrave (7) to pick up and drive into the Police defence recycling the ball via a ruck and finally being driven into touch on the Police 10 metre line. Winning the lineout the Police quickly moved the ball across their back line where the Navy were penalised for a high tackle, playing an advantage the referee, Tim Bailey allowed the Police to continue the attack until the move broke down and going back to the penalty. Quickly taken by the Police with a tap and attacking down the right side before being tackled and the ball turned over, however the Navy immediately knocked the ball on resulting in a scrum to the Police inside the Navy 22. Scrum was won by the Police who attacked using pick and drive tactics amongst the forwards, after two rucks on the Navy 5 metre line they forced their way over scoring their third try, which was converted. Score RN 29- Police 19 after 56 minutes play. As both teams continued to rotate players the Navy for the first time in the 2nd half showed the aggression, enthusiasm and desire to close the game on a high, with 62 minutes played winning a scrum on the Police 10 metre line the ball was quickly moved across the back line to Billie Staite (24) who with a turn of speed beat several defenders to score in the left corner, the conversion failed. Score RN 34 Police 19. More of the same followed from the restart with Musgrave receiving the ball and using her power and speed attacked the Police defence making 20 metres before being tackled, quickly recycled the ball Rosie Staples (18) broke the defensive line accelerating into the Police 22 before passing to Oli Critchley (25) on the left who was able to cross the line to score out wide, once again the conversion was missed. Score RN 39 – Police 19, 65 minutes played. With the game won and five minutes to play both sides tried hard to create more opportunities to score points. Despite the usual knock-ons, dropped passes and turnovers it was the Royal Navy who scored the last try through Oli Critchley, converted by Anne Marie McIntyre. Score RN 46 – Police 19, 69 minutes played. After the restart and for all the front row obsessives, the Navy knocked the ball on and at the resultant scrum the Navy hooker Cole (2) took one against the head enabling them to attack down the right side and eventually forced into touch to end the game. Full time score – Royal Navy Women’s Development XV 46 – Northamptonshire Police 19.

For those that can’t quite accept that women play rugby – it is here, it is getting bigger, stronger and more skilful. Eventually England Women will fill Twickenham in their own right. Don’t compare it with the men’s game it is different. I commend women’s rugby to you – come along watch and support them in their endeavours.


Sarah Jenkins, Development Team Head Coach said after the game - I was very pleased with the girl’s performance this evening. We have come a long way since our first development game against Havant, starting with uncontested scrums, to finishing the development season with a trained front row and contested scrums for 80 minutes just shows how much work the girls have put in to improve themselves. Through the season we have had new girls join us with very little experience, all whom have grown in confidence and learnt new skills. I’m extremely proud of the commitment and determination shown by the squad, and look forward to playing alongside some of these ladies as the RN 1st XV season commences.

Lt Cdr Kirsty Marlor, RNRU Volunteer Manager said - The RN Women’s Development squad have made so much progress this season, it is great that they have been able to finish on a high with a victory against Northamptonshire Police. It was fantastic to see 11 new players involved in the match and be able to hold their own against a team that grew in confidence during the game. Under the excellent guidance of Head Coach, Sarah Jenkins, the team were well organised with a clear game plan, which held firm throughout even with the rolling substitutions. It was impressive that for the last 10 minutes of the game, only 4 experienced players were on the pitch and the team were able to continue to play to a good level. The RN (W) Development Squad has gone from strength to strength over the past couple of years and it is exciting to see some new talent that will undoubtedly feature in the Senior XV this season, which is set to be a historic one with Twickenham and a South Africa tour in the programme.

RN Women’s Development Squad; 1 Katie Ives, 2 Hannah Cole (Capt), 3 Lucy Honeybell, 4 Helen Stevenson, 5 Eilidh Parry, 6 Tyler Dunmow, 7 Megan Musgrave, 8 Anne Marie McIntyre, 9 Bethan Hughes, 10 Nic Elvidge, 11 Rachel Carragher, 12 Suzan Badger, 13 Sian McLaughlin, 14 Josie Parnaby, 15 Abi Ashby (Vice Capt), 16 Alice Kightley, 17 Ellen Bloxham, 18 Rosie Staples, 19 El Blythel, 20 Becky Bowskill, 21 Anya Bass, 22 Chelsea Jobling, 23 Rose Dixon, 24 Billie Staite, 25 Olivia Critchley.

RN Women (Development) TSG:
Asst DOR Paula Bennett-Smith, Acting Team manager Loz Salisbury, Head Coach Sarah Jenkins, Loz Salisbury and Team Physio Mark Povey.

Match officials: Provided by the RNRURS - Referee Tim Bailey, AR’s Dave Prentice and Bruno Brunning.

Words: Tommy Atkins
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © Keith Woodland