HMS Bulwark @ Kiel Sevens
The high standard of rugby played by many ships teams these days was driven home at the Annual Kiel Rugby Sevens Tournament on 21 June. RN Rugby Union was represented by 5 teams, 2 from HMS BULWARK, having just completed BALTOPS 08 and 3 from HMS ARK ROYAL who also fielded one of the 3 female teams represented on the day. For once the weather forecasters were wrong and the sun shone all day, making the going hard and the intake of fluids large. In all, 16 teams comprised the pool stages from Germany, Scotland, Lithuania and the RN which was divided into 4 pools of 4, each pool winner going straight to the semi finals. Whilst the remainder played off for the plate. The competition was played at Kiel University who organised and supported the event superbly with accommodation, camping facilities, food, drink and 3 days of rugby. Competition proper, started at 11 AM on Saturday 21 June with Bulwarks 1st team playing against Hamburg Exiles. From the first whistle the ball was caught by Mne Shearer who showed the teams intent to play 7s and kept the ball live instead of seeking his usual brand of contact. Out the ball went across the park through good hands until a quick turn of pace and side step by the CPO Harvey let Mne Rhodes loose for the first of his glut of tries. Following the re-start Hamburg tried in vain to run the ball but a crunching tackle from Mne Shearer (which silenced a sizeable and vocal crowd) turned the ball over. End result 59-0 with tries also scored by POWEA Jones, Mne Shearer and ET(ME) Arndell. Bulwarks 2nd team were up next and has to be said, the draw was not kind with 3 of the competitions stronger sides to face (including Ark Royal 1st and one of the eventual finalists). Never the less, a solid captain’s performance by CMEM(M) King and his team saw them only lose out 14-19 in what was one of the competitions closer fought games. Tries for Bulwark being scored by PO(AWT) Waudby and LET(ME) Fuca After 3 sound hard fought games each for all 4 of the men’s teams representing the RN, Bulwarks 1st team progressed to the Semi Finals, having won all three of their pool games with an impressive total of 157 points scored and 5 conceded. Bulwarks 2nd team along with Ark Royals 1st and 2nd teams were unable to top their pools and continued the fight into the plate. Ark Royal Ladies acquitted themselves admirably to win one out of two of their matches. Bulwarks 1st, Captained by CPO(EW) Mark Harvey had put in an impressive display but now faced a much sterner test in the Semis. The opposition for the semis came in the form of a squad of British Army Fijians playing whilst based in Germany for DRC Schwalbe. Unfortunately this time, the opposition was just too well drilled, too fast and too strong. In traditional Fijian style the pace and power was impressive to watch and DRC turned the tables and ran out 47-0 winners. This though was not the end with play offs for 3rd and 4th place still in the pot. Once again, as superb performance from Mne Rhodes rallied the team to a hard fought but well deserved 31-10 win over Gütersloh and secured 3rd place overall for Bulwarks 1st team. DRC Shcwalbe ending the day as tournament winners. Overall, a strong performance and impressive display of which RN Rugby, BULWARK and ARK ROYAL can be rightly proud of.