The RNRU Women award 8 new caps in Toulon


RN Women


Marine Nationale Feminines

Left wing Billi Staite shows her pace
The Royal Navy Women were tested hard in defence
Fly half Sarah Jenkins made some superb tackles
Replacement Abi Sondack won her first RNRU cap
The French Navy Women didn’t allow the RNRU Women through
New vice-captain Helen Stevenson played strongly at No 8
The 8 newly capped RNRU Women players

The sun wasn’t shining for the Royal Navy Rugby Union Women as they took to the pitch at Stade Leo Legrange in Toulon for their annual fixture against the Marine Nationale Feminines.  Despite displaying plenty of determination and resilience they were no match for the French Navy Women and the final score was 67 – 0.  

The Royal Navy Rugby Union Women know that when they travel to France for the annual fixture against the French Navy the odds are stacked against them.  The Royal Navy Women have not defeated their French counterparts since the competition began in 2011 and the French Women are always fiercer on home soil.  The 2018 encounter was to be no different.

The stadium 'Leo Legrange' was the location for the fixture, a well-appointed stadium in Toulon, and a small crowd was gathered to watch the encounter.  Newly announced team captain, Sam Alderson, led her team onto the pitch and they stood proudly singing the national anthem before the match commenced.

Right from the off the home side got the better of the Visitors, full of attacking energy and plenty of pace.  The Royal Navy Women were over-powered in the scrum, although the front row, of Katie Ives, Emily Park and Charlotte Fredrickson (playing out of her normal position as flanker) did their level best to be competitive.  Really tested in defence, the Navy Women saved many more tries than they let through.  Alderson at full back made several try saving tackles, and the speed of the Navy backs also ensured a number of the French backs were brought to the ground before making it over the try line.

However, despite their best efforts they could not stop the French from breaking through.  In all the home side ran in six tries in the first half and the Royal Navy Rugby Union Women were unable to respond.  The half time score was 36 - 0.

Head Coach, Martyn Ruskin, made a few changes at half time, bringing on some of the more experienced RNRU Women players with Kate Parkman replacing Katie Ives in the front row and Emma Swinton coming on for Drew Powell on the right wing.  The pace of play did not slow down, and the Navy Rugby Women kept their heads fully in the game, never letting them drop. 

The French Women started the second half as they had begun, playing hard and fast, running in the first try of the second half after 7 minutes of play, and another followed in the fiftieth minute of the match.  But things didn't go all the way of the home side.  With the scoreboard standing at 48 - 0 the RNRU Women had a period of sustained pressure.  Retaining possession inside the French half for the majority of the next 20 minutes the French Women were forced onto the back foot and had to defend hard - which they did.  The Royal Navy Women, despite several attempts, couldn't find a way through.  More changes were made, with Sondack, Elvidge and Tuivaga coming on, replacing Mealey, Ashby and Jenkins, but this didn't change the flow of the game.  The Marine Nationale Feminines scored their ninth try in the sixty eighth minute.  Five minutes later the visiting team were reduced to 14 and, being a player up, the French took full advantage running in two more tries before the final whistle.  The final score was 67 - 0.

It had been a hard match for the Royal Navy Rugby Union Women but they were able to hold their heads up high as their Assistant Director of Rugby, Lt Cdr Paula Bennett-Smith, announced the names of the newly capped players.  Vice Admiral Ben Key, the Royal Navy Rugby Union President was there to present the caps and remarked to the team that they had fully lived up to their moto "Never Surrender".  They had played their absolute best for the entire 80 minutes, showing grit, determination and extraordinary resilience.  There were eight newly capped players, marking the change in RNRU policy which was ratified at the Annual Meeting in 2017.  All Women playing for the RNRU in the matches against the RAF, Army or French Navy will be awarded a cap on their first occasion of representing the RNRU in these matches.

Our congratulations go to Katie Ives, Emily Howard, Hannah Coles, Yvonne Mealy, Cheryl Goodwin, Abi Ashby, Abi Sondack and Abi Gilbertson - well done ladies!

The next outing for the RNRU Women will be in the first of their Inter Service matches against the Royal Air Force on 20th April, at the Stoop.  Tickets are still available priced £10, to purchase follow this link

Team List: 1 Katie Ives, 2 Emily Park, Charlotte Fredrickson, 4 Abi Gilbertson, 5 Emily Howard, 6 Hannah Cole, 7 Yvonne Mealy, 8 Helen Stevenson, 9 Olivia Critch;ey, 10 Sarah Jenkins, 11 Billi Statie, 12 Cheryly Goodwin, 13 Abi Ashby, 14 Drew Powell, 15 Sam Alderson Replacements 16 Kate Parkman, 17 Abi Sondack, 18 Rachel Carragher, 19 Tara Tuivaga, 20 Nicola Elvidge, 21. Kirsty Marlor, 22 Emma Swinton, 23 Holly Till.

Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © Keith Woodland