Annual Message from RNRU U23s Chairman
Before I start the Chairman’s annual message I would just like to pay homage to the outgoing U23 Chairman, Lt Cdr Phil England. A stalwart and loyal supporter of grass roots rugby, he has nurtured and mentored the TSG through some extremely impressive performances over the last few years, supported by characters like Taff Wilcock, Scott Ashley and the irrepressible Billy May. Not a bad record, I think you will agree, given that his day job has frequently ‘ripped’ him out of the UK, often a short notice! Thank you Phil, we only hope we can emulate your success in the forthcoming season.
As I write, from the confines of MOD Main Building, the U23 squad enters the final stages of mustering for their first Camp of the autumn campaign, basing themselves in Fort Blockhouse for a full-on individual assessment of who is likely to stay the course! The competition this season is the hottest ever, with a selection process that started 2 months ago when an initial letter was despatched to COs indicating that we are watching some of their people. That letter has been followed up by the Team Manager’s (PO CS Si Pickett) call to arms, with some 49 lads called forward.
Following on from the Director of Rugby’s (Cdr Mark Deller) desire to put fitness and sustained fitness at the forefront of our game, the U23s will be stretched once again by the Head Coach, Maj Scott Ashley RM, and coach WO1 Billy May. This season they will be supported by PO Kai Blackett, C/Sgt Ian Williams and AB Limburn.
So what’s new? Potentially the size of the squad, the number that are punching through the ranks to full representative status (despite being U23!) and the fixture drumbeat. Last season the lads assembled and went straight into an away fixture at Ealing, losing 26-17, which was actually quite a success given that very few of the squad had ever played alongside each other before. This season there is a much longer run in, with the first fixture at home this time to Ealing in mid-October. Logically this gives the coaches a greater period to mould the team into a more confident outfit. Thereafter the fixtures are once per week for 5 weeks, with the Inter-Service matches taking place on 14 Nov (RAF – home) and 21 Nov (Army – Aldershot). En route to the Inter-services fixtures the U23s will play only one away fixture 18 Oct (London Scottish – Richmond), giving the squad a genuine opportunity to capitalise on the ‘home advantage’. Clearly that advantage comes not only from the player locale, but also from supporters. This season I am hoping for a greater publicity campaign by exploiting Twitter feeds and Facebook in order to attract supporters from the Portsmouth area. Support follows success, so as Chairman of the RNRU U23s I would like to wish our TSG, Squad and supporters a fantastic 2014 campaign.
Cdr David George RN
Royal Navy Rugby Union U23s Chairman
Royal Navy Rugby Union Stakeholder Manager
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