Sailors in Sevens Heaven
Viking 'A' v HMS Sultan
RNRU 7's Competition - Final
The Royal Navy Rugby Union travelled to Yeovil Rugby Football Club to enjoy a celebration of summer 7s and with a significant amount of rugby played, a Baa-Baas team took the Ladies’ title while their male colleagues’ competition was won by Viking Squadron ‘A’ team.
Royal Navy sailors and marines were drawn to Yeovil RFC again for the annual Royal Navy Rugby Union 7s tournament. An opportunity for rugby in the sun, where the paddock is firm under foot and the boys and girls who usually play in the backs get to make hay with the acres of space around them (or because the forwards are blowing). As the 7s version of the game continues to gain significant momentum in the world rugby calendar it comes as no small surprise that that increase in interest is reflected at grass roots and representative level within the Royal Navy and it is thanks to Dave Wakefield (Community Rugby Coach (East)) that numbers of participants and supporters grows exponentially year on year.
2018 saw the 14 men’s team divided into three tough leagues followed by a knock-out system. The ladies' competition constituted a 5 team round robin with the top 4 making the playoffs. To put it into perspective the RN Men played 26 round robin matches and 12 knockout matches equalling 8hrs of rugby while the RN Women played 10 round robin matches and 3 knockout matches totalling 2hrs 30 mins of rugby. No small wonder there were some tired bodies when the tournament curtailed in the early evening.
League A featured HMS Seahawk, HMNB Clyde (who flew down for the fixture), Viking Squadron RM ‘B’ and an URNU 7. A three way tie, all on 11 points, between the regulars saw the Scotsmen take the top spot with Seahawk second meaning that Viking ‘B’ were deeply unfortunate to be relegated to the 9th place play-off. It was a confidence bruising encounter for the students who shipped 89 over their three games (they were to get their deserved Win in the play-offs).
Viking ‘A’ (W3 D1) had the better fortune winning League B by 2 points from HMS Sultan (W3 L1). HMS Queen Elizabeth, HMND Devonport and BRNC were the three remaining teams in the league and given BRNC’s recent pedigree it was a surprise they couldn’t find a way to beat any of the competition. The team from HMS Queen Elizabeth is worthy of acclaim as it may not have escaped notice but they have been a mite busy what with all that reported activity in full page spreads in the broadsheets!
League C had a similar look to League A with three teams tied on16 points each. Though HMS Heron may have been surprised when HMNB Portsmouth worthily took the points in their encounter: they will have been delighted by their huge score against 30 Cdo RM the points difference of which helped to relegated the boys in green into third, effectively removing them from the cup play-offs. HMS Kent and HMS Raleigh struggled in the league with Kent coming out on top to salvage some pride with a two score win advantage.
The standout side in the ladies’ league was the Baa-Baa; a ‘turn up and play’ side who delighted the support with a clean sweep of results. Hanging on to their coat tails, the Carrier Queens (from HMS Queen Elizabeth) put in a solid performance. URNU 7s and BRNC came 3rd and 4th meaning HMS Heron were first back in the locker room having not won a game.
The Knockout stages mirrored the leagues’ final placings with HMS Queen Elizabeth victorious over the URNU students and the Baa-Baas taking the plaudits against the officer cadets from BRNC. The final exceeded expectation and in an extremely close match the Baa-Baas took the result and the title.
Running concurrently the men’s knockout was divided into a cup competition and a 9th Place Play-Off. Viking ‘B’, so unlucky to not be in contention in the Cup found themselves, by way of a bye, in the semi-final facing HMS Kent to be pipped by BRNC by 1 unconverted try. The Kentish Men (or is it Men of Kent?), facing fresher legs, fought valiantly but it wasn’t to be as Viking ‘B’ took the match 28-14. In the final they met HMNB Devonport who sauntered into the final having also received a bye in the quarters followed by a semi against BRNC where they scored 22 unanswered points. In the 9th Place Final, the Guz ratings put on a strong showing and won the game 3 tries to 2. They should be particularly pleased with this result as they started the tournament very slowly only really getting going in their league match against BRNC.
Again the bye played a significant part in the telling of this story as Viking ‘A’ who having beaten Portsmouth found themselves in the final having vaulted over the semi. HMS Sultan by contrast had to play the 2 airbases and though they inflicted significant damage to Seahawk they were forced to concentrate all their efforts to repel Heron, holding on by 1 converted score. Arriving at the final with the tank empty, Sultan struggled in vain with Viking ‘A’ taking the 2018 Champions’ title beating the engineers 26 - 5.
Click here for full results.
The RNRU would like to thank the officials, coaches, managers, physios, first aiders, supporters and of course the players in making this event such a special occasion and would like to invite all who took part to spread the word that the RNRU Beach Rugby Festival will take place Wed 18 Jul 18 in Weymouth. If interested contact Navy Rugby RDO, Ady Cherrington: firstname.lastname@example.org
Words: J Campbell-Baldwin
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton