HMS MONMOUTH’S RUGBY TOUR VOLAN’S 07
HMS Monmouth left Devonport on a cold but clear morning on February 26 2007. At the time of sailing we had a fledgling rugby team that was only 17 strong with 6 of them having never played the game before. We had many rugby club meeting’s and stated our intentions for the nine months which were to play as much rugby as we could, develop as many players into the rugby fold and drink the odd cold pint of tiger or XXXX. Saturday the 17th of March saw us in Cyprus with our first game against the light blue of the RAF playing in Akatiri . We managed a squad of 19 players with 6 players never having played the game before and two of the front rows with only three games each. Due to the heat and our inexperience it was decided to play four 20 quarters and have uncontested scrums. Undaunted the Black duke held her own for the first ten minutes but then some strong back play from the RAF saw us concede our first points. At the end of the first period we were 21 points down and struggling to find our rhythm. During the second and third period we managed to put together some passage’s of play with the forwards driving on for three or four phases of play and then spinning it out to the back’s. PO (AWT) Simpson made a strong break, which resulted in Monmouth’s visiting Kiwi (Matt Lee), officer to score in the corner. Due to fatigue and heat we conceded more try’s in the last period and the final score was 40-5 to the crabs. After the match we watched the last game of the six nations and were hosted by the RAF exceptionally. That was our first game over. A lot learnt and a few sore heads to go with the sore bodies the following day. May saw us in Singapore with our colonial cousins the Kiwis on the Frigate TA Mana and the Australians with the Adelaide. The club swingers got together and it was decided to have a TRI nation 7s tournament. The Monmouth took two teams of ten and with the rules being slightly different to what we are used to. After four games we had conceded more than we scored. The lads never gave up and earnt a lot of respect from the two nations that live and die rugby. Indonesia saw the Brotherhood meet the Rhino’s and if you were in the front row that’s exactly what they looked like. The game started quite tight and but some strong running from LPT Patterson and AB Logs Stacey gave AB Caruana run in from 40 yards. Could this be the first win on tour? 5-0 to the ‘Blake Duke’ and straight from the off we drove to the line. A breakaway from PO Simpson and CPO James saw all the forwards driving for the line. Unfortunately they were pulled up just short. The heat started to tell after 30 minutes and the Rhino’s forward power drove them over the line to make the scores level. The second half was a close run thing with both sides trying to finish the game. AB Logs George scored a fantastic individual try from 60 yards out running around nearly the whole Indonesian rugby team. The ‘Blake Duke’ rang the changes late on in the second half with 10 substitutions. Due to this and fatigue the Rhino’s took control and took a 17-10 lead. However we finished the stronger and in the dying minutes CPO Greenhough and AB Logs George made a breakaway with some good strong running. However our ball handling skills just failed us at the end and the final whistle was blown. As we send this we completed a three-hour training session in Indonesia, and are just about to meet the Australians and Kiwi’s on their home soil. So can we get that elusive first win? The Rugby Squad is now 40 + strong with a good committee. All supporters now have club dress shirts. Training sessions normally turn out over 18, and is always professionally taken by AB Caruana. The sport is growing onboard thanks to the enthusiasm and in depth knowledge of AB Caruana. 44 new rugby kits have been ordered. They all will have personalised names and HMS Monmouth’s logo on the shirts and shorts. Once delivered we will be having a rugby club photo which will include around 70 of the ships personnel. Surely this will be the greatest achievement of any Frigate in the Fleet. Back page of Navy News here we come!!!!!!!!! More pictures available in the photo gallery.