Bob & Bill Who?
As is now tradition on the eve of the Royal Navy v Royal Air Force matches the Life Members of the Royal Navy Rugby Union, along with Vice Presidents and sponsors met for their annual dinner at the National Museum of the Royal Navy. Before dinner the Senior XV squad joined the guests and today’s playing team were presented with their match jerseys. The jerseys were presented by Rugby Football Union President, Bob Reeves, and RFU Chairman, Bill Beaumont, the principle guests for the evening. As a former Grand Slam winning captain Bill, it was thought, would need no introduction, however, it soon became apparent amongst the younger, current playing generation, Bill is better remembered for his fourteen years as a captain on the BBC’s Question of Sport. Bob reminded the players of what it should mean to receive your cap and your playing jersey and to think about those that had worn it before them. Last to receive his playing shirt was captain Dave Pascoe, the thirty second time he has been presented with his shirt prior to a capped match but still as important to him as the first time in 2000.
During the dinner the President of the Royal Navy Rugby Union, Vice Admiral Phil Jones, gave the Life Members and sponsors an insight in to the considerable amount of activity within the Union over the last year. He paid special thanks to the RFU President who has supported all three Service Unions during his year of office and also explained the extensive contribution the RNRU was making, in partnership with the RFU, to support their Unity Project. The Unity Project is a groundbreaking partnership with the IRB, FIRA-AER and UK Sport that involves the RFU working with 17 European nations to grow the game of rugby ahead of Rugby World Cup 2015. The RNRU are working with Norway, Belgium and Netherlands, all nations that the Royal Navy has strong historic ties with. In particular, in this anniversary year for the Royal Marines, the Dutch who were alongside the Corps at Gibraltar all those years ago.
Another great evening where the extended family of Navy Rugby could catch up and reminisce of times past. However today it is back to the current generation as the Mariners, the RN Women and the Royal Navy take on their RAF counterparts in the second round of the 2014 Inter Service championship.
Article by Geraint Ashton Jones
Images by Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones