HMS Illustrious - Exercise Orion 08

HMS Illustrious left Portsmouth in January for a 4 month deployment to sunnier climates. With two new joiners from Navy Rugby onboard, Cdr Mark Deller(former Navy Head Coach and current Combined Services Head Coach) and CPOPT Billy May (former Navy Backs coach and Navy Sharks Head Coach from 2005 - 07), the rugby fraternity onboard were rightly looking for an upturn in their fortunes. Not to be disappointed Mark and Billy set about whipping them into shape, with weekly coaching sessions held both in the Hangar and on the Flight Deck. Players were introduced to some of the Navy Team Patterns and professional standards that led to both these coaches having success with Navy and CS teams last season. To date Lusty has played two fixtures whilst deployed, beating HMS Edinburgh 40-20 whilst in Malta and notably turning over Muscat RFC 45-21, the first Naval team to do so in 4 years. On their travels the community game has not been forgotten, during their stay in Malta, on the invitation of the Malta RFU they delivered a Tag Rugby competition to 300 Maltese school children at the Marsa Rugby Complex on the Island. Mark, Billy, CPO Taff Davies and PO Jan Curnow had to coach and referee the game to novice but enthusiastic schoolchildren using a variety of languages, English, Italian and even Cornish! An experience for all concerned. A return visit to Muscat, in addition to visits to Goa and Istanbul bodes well for this Rugby turnaround onboard the Fleets Strike Carrier, watch this space for more reports on Lusty RFC.