Charles De Gaulle 36 – 19 HMS Talent
A scratch side from HMS TALENT gave a good account of themselves during a recent visit to Toulon when they faced up against very strong opposition in the shape of a team from the French aircraft carrier CHARLES DE GAULLE. With a Ship's Company of 130 to draw from, TALENT were able to field a squad of 20 who faced considerable odds in the shape of a 35 man French squad drawn from the carrier's complement of 1300. A kit ‘malfunction' meant that TALENT had to borrow HMS OCEAN's kit but nonetheless the submariners were determined to play for the good name of the boat. Having spent much of the last 18 months at sea the RN side had only an hour to warm up and familiarise themselves with some basic calls before facing up to a team who have spent the last 4 months in harbour and who featured 3 players from the Marine Nationale squad. Predictably enough TALENT were under the cosh from the kick off and spent much of the first 20 minutes pinned back in their own 22. Valiant defence marshalled by veteran RN centre WO2 WEA Nick Robinson and featuring some shuddering tackling, especially from the equally experienced PO(MEM) Paddy Mardell, repulsed the best the French could throw at them however and slowly but surely TALENT fought their way back into the game. Just as they did so however a good move from the French released a seriously quick right winger who sped away from despairing tackles to score in the corner. Stung by that opening the submariners fought back through the forwards with a series of bullocking runs from the back row trio of ET(WESM) Danny Kay, LET (WESM) Steve Hillman and AB (CISSM) Nathan Henry. That mounting pressure eventually led to a break which saw Kay go over the line, the try converted by fly half, AB(CISSM) Justin Cahill, and TALENT took the lead 7 - 5. Game on. With the makeshift midfield starting to fire and outside centre Steward Matt Mead making some good runs the French side were obviously surprised by the stiff resistance they were meeting. A clearing kick put them back into TALENT's 22 and a steal at the line out led to a catch and drive which Les Bleus drove over and kicked the conversion to restore their lead just before half time. The cheers from their sidelines matched the very obvious relief of the home team as the whistle went.
With temperatures in the 30s it was likely that the visiting team would start to feel the pace but they showed tremendous fighting spirit to keep the match in the balance for much of the second half. Scores were exchanged with Mead making a break that put Hillman in under the posts, Cahill converting before the French broke through again. Cahill then released LS LOGS (SC) Tom Whiteside (making his debut on the rugby pitch) who showed his footballers pace to burn of the French cover before slipping the ball inside to Kay for him to crash over again. This time the angle defeated Cahill. Despite the towering defensive efforts typified by LET (MESM) Ian Burnard and LS WS(SSM) Liam Buckley the home side eventually ground their way through the tiring visitors adding a converted score in the last minute which made the victory look a lot more convincing on the score sheet than it was on the pitch. With gifts exchanged by the respective Commanding Officers, Captain Oliver Lebas and Cdr John Aitken RN on the pitch the teams made their way to the all rates bar in Toulon Naval base. The third half which involved plenty of smiles and ‘Cheers' being met by ‘Salut' put a finishing touch on a game that was hard fought but played in a very good spirit and which reflected a hugely enjoyable run ashore for TALENT.
HMS TALENT: LS Buckley, LET Moseley, Std Mead, WO2 Robinson, LET Hughes, AB Cahill, LS Morgan, ET Woodall, PO Mardell, PO Scott, LET Burnard, ET Kloppers, AB Henry, ET Kay, LET Hillman. Replacements: Cdr Aitken, ET Powell, LS Whiteside, PO Fenn, ET Southgate.
HMS TALENT Rugby Team.
Commander John Aitken rallies the team.
Commander John Aitken exchanges crests with Captain Oliver Lebas.
HMS TALENT prepare for yet another ferocious scrum.