Chichester RFC Select XV 35 v 6 Royal Navy U23s

Wednesday night saw the RN U23s continue their preparations in earnest for the 2012 Interservices Championship, with a fixture against a Chichester RFC Select XV. In the inaugural fixture between the two sides last season, the Senior Service ran out 45-6 winners at Burnaby Road but this time the RN were under no illusions that Chichester were out to avenge that defeat.

With light airs and conditions good underfoot, a perfect evening for rugby was in the offing at Oaklands Park.  From the kick off, it was clear the Navy were in for a serious game of rugby. With fire in their bellies and with a significant weight advantage over their Senior Service counterparts, "Chi" soon made their pressure tell, and after 7 minutes, strong running from their inside centre brought them a try under the posts, which was subsequently converted. With Chi very quickly thereafter going off their feet at the ruck, the subsequent penalty was slotted over by Navy Flyhalf AB (Aaron) Lewis (HMS Vigilant). The Navy maintained a positive approach in the face of repeated attacks on their line, but throughout the remainder of the half the solid foundation provided by the Chichester pack allowed Chi the opportunity to cross the Navy line a further three times. The Navy responded once more with a penalty from Lewis, leaving the Half Time score at 35-6.

With Chi having made several changes at Half time, the second half quickly shaped up to be a very different beast compared to the First. With the Navy having weathered the storm of the first 40 minutes, they returned to the pitch with a more confident air. Showing more aggression in defence, their improved work rate made their opponents work hard for every incursion into their territory. With several promising Navy moves into the Chichester 22, the U23s demonstrated sparks of creativity and showed that despite the score they remained committed to the end. With a failed penalty attempt by the Navy, the match drew to a close with the score line remaining unchanged at 35-6.

This game was instrumental in demonstrating to the young Navy players the intensity and commitment required of them. Although the first half saw the Navy concede several tries, there were positive areas which give the coaching team a sound base to work on.

The Chairman of U23 Rugby Lt Cdr Phil England (MOD Abbeywood) said "This match was a good opportunity for us to translate what we have done on the training pitch into a real game situation, against a committed and capable side, and we now take the lessons learned into our next game against Oxford University which promises to be a lively affair".

Head Coach Capt Scott Ashley RM (NCHQ) said "The match gave me the opportunity to watch players in a hard and difficult situation which has now allowed me to be able to select a squad which will be able to perform to the highest standard in the forthcoming Inter-Services Competition.  The squad will have the additional power of players returning from a very successful Commonwealth Cup campaign and other players who were unavailable for this game but have a known pedigree"

Scott went on to say "The new players now understand the level of rugby expected when representing the RN.  The coaching team have now identified the areas we need to concentrate on and the best way forward.  There were a lot of positives to take from this game especially the second half performance by the team and I am very proud of their efforts".

The Royal Navy U23s now continue their progress towards the Interservices matches with a fixture against an Oxford University XV on Saturday 27th Oct. All are welcome to join us at Iffley Road to support the future of Navy Rugby, and you can also follow the progress of the squad here on the website and at our Twitter feed Twitter@RNrugby