‘Breakers’ Hope to Peak in Auckland
2012 was the centenary season of the Royal Australian Navy Rugby Union team. It coincided with their hosting of the Commonwealth Cup for the second time. However it also came at a time when their form was waning. Having won the Inter Service title in 2011 and so nearly wrestled the Shelford/Stokes trophy from New Zealand, 2012 was an anniversary year that didn’t go to plan. The Army edged the Breakers to win the Australian IS title and in the Commonwealth Cup they fell short in both their games.
2013 was a rebuilding year and once more they finished runners up to the Army at the annual Inter Services championship. However with improved structures in place the RAN Breakers were clearly improving. They entered the 2014 season in optimistic mood buoyed from a very successful joint training camp with the RAN Rugby’s women’s team who for the first time were playing a true XV-a-side Inter Service competition of their own
A comfortable 55-12 victory over the RAAF was matched by the Army and it was therefore once more down to a winners take all Army Navy match. As title holders the Army started the game favourites and had eased to a 16-5 half time lead. However as the match entered its last quarter it was the Navy who held a slender lead. An Army try eased them in front 28-24 and with time running out it looked as if the Army would retain the trophy. However the Navy side launched one final twelve-phase attack which culminated in second row forward Jason Harrington crashing over to seal the famous victory. Sam Peters landed the conversion to make the final score 31-28.
The Inter Services win also provided another benefit for the Breakers in that they provided half of the side selected for the Australian Combined Services. The ADF CS team played Northern Territory Mosquitos last week and though they lost 33-20 it does mean that a number of Breakers team will be travelling to New Zealand with very recent top-flight rugby experience.
So unlike 2012 it looks as if the Royal Australian Navy Breakers will arrive at the Four Nation Maritime Trophy and Commonwealth Cup with improving form. They currently have a 3-3 record against the New Zealand Navy but, unlike the Kiwis, they have never managed a victory against the Royal Navy, their 18-15 loss in 2003 being their closest result. However the 2003 Breakers were in many ways unlucky not to lift the Commonwealth Cup and their 2014 counterparts will be able to cross the Tasman Sea with high hopes of challenging for honours in HMZS Philomel.
Article by Geraint Ashton Jones
Images ©Commonwealth of Australia (Credits ABIS Sarah Ebsworth & Cpl Max Bree)
Images provided by Australian Defence Image Library