Success for the students in Royal Navy Rugby Union 10s Final
BRNC v HMS Albion
RNRU 10's Competition - Final
The Royal Navy Rugby Union 10s championship final saw the airmen from HMS Heron take on the mighty sailors of HMS Albion and the new entry officer cadets from Dartmouth. In the end it was youth that won out and saw Britannia Royal Naval College crowned the RNRU 10s champions for 2017.
HMS Heron hosted the competition this year, welcoming the teams who had successfully competed in the regional events earlier in the Autumn. Late withdrawals from HMS Collingwood and HMS Sultan reduced the number of teams taking part but the competition was still well attended and the standard of rugby was high.
The BRNC team won through after winning the Western Region event and were able to call upon a large number of their new entry Officer Cadets, who had only just joined the college and many of whom were now experiencing their first game of rugby within the Royal Navy. It was an excellent opportunity to see new talent on the pitch. HMS Albion qualified for the final as the Western Region Runners-Up and the only ship in the final. The Captain had made a special effort to land the team to allow them to participate, which in turn showed the new entry officer cadets just what can be achieved whilst serving onboard a Royal Navy warship.
The competition took the form of a league where all the teams competed against each other. Game one saw HMS Heron take on HMS Albion in what proved to be a very tight match. Both teams came out with one intention in mind and that was to play an open running game. With Heron firing the first salvo, after a series of passes from one side to the other, they created the overlap they were looking for, only for the final pass to be knocked on, which was the trend of their play in the first half, squandering a number of other opportunities. HMS Albion played a tight game and almost took the lead on the brink of half time when they worked their way up the pitch, and the final drive fell inches short of the line.
The second half saw both teams throwing the ball around and the deadlock was finally broken by HMS Albion, when a good move resulted in them scoring the first try. Heron pressed for a score of their own and Albion kept their shape, making it hard to break through, then, with just 3 minutes to play, another good move enabled an Albion player to ride a couple of tackles and score a try, which put the result out of the reach of Heron and earned them a well-deserved 10 - 0 win.
In Game Two BRNC fielded their new Officer Cadets against the Heron team, who themselves, contained a large number of players making their debut for the establishment. BRNC were full of energy from the off, changing the direction of play on a number of occasions but Heron held firm. The play then went Heron's way, attacking BRNC, whose defence stood firm. The first breakthrough came from a slick move from BRNC, followed shortly after, with a second try. The trend continued throughout the match, with both teams playing open, running rugby, with some good rugby skills thrown in for good measure. The game flowed from one end to another throughout the second period, with BRNC scoring 2 more tries and Heron scoring a converted try, making the final result 20 – 7 to Britannia Royal Naval College.
Game Three effectively turned into the final, as both HMS Albion and BRNC had beaten HMS Heron in the earlier games. There was no quarter given in this match, with so much on the line. From the off, Albion reminded the young BRNC side that they were in these finals on merit and would be no pushovers, putting in some effective defending and attacking at every opportunity. The play went from one end to the other, with both teams taking their scoring opportunities. BRNC got their noses in front and looked to have a strangle hold on the match until one of their players was yellow carded, after previously being warned about kicking the ball at the ruck. This was the turning point that Albion were looking for and they took full advantage, scoring twice to take a well-deserved lead 17 - 13 with just under 5 minutes left to play. When BRNC were back up to their full complement, they pressed forward whenever possible and threw caution to the wind, which paid off when they ran in a couple of tries at the death and put down the Albion revival. It was a sporting performance by both teams and a great advertisement for the game of rugby within the Royal Navy, with Britannia Royal Naval College running out winners by 31 - 17 and being crowned Royal Navy Rugby Union 10s champions 2017.
The Royal Navy Rugby Union community calendar now moves back to the Regional leagues before the Inverdale Challenge competition begins next week.
Words by D Wakefield
Images Royal Navy Rugby Union © D Wakefield