HMS PORTLAND TAKE 'GO PLAY RUGBY' TO THE CARIBBEAN
HMS PORTLAND left Devonport on 4th June to carry out the ATP (N) in the Caribbean We had been at sea for less than a week and the Rugby Club called its first meeting. This was to nominate a Chairman, Captain and our intentions for the deployment. The CO - Commander Utley jumped at the chance to be chairman and LS Keiller was nominated Captain for the third year in succession. Our first stop was Martinque, the buzz around the ship was electric, having had two training sessions at USN Station Norfolk the squad was looking good with over 25 players; the Club was up for the game. Owing to the heat, the teams decided to play 4 quarters of 20 minutes. This was ideal from a clubs point of view as this would give us an opportunity to check out all our new young players and also our older, very experienced, ones as well. The score remained 0-0 until the 20th minute when fitness and heat fatigue started to kick in. The team worked hard, forwards held their own in the Scrums and the backs looked sharp running some goods lines. Rugby is always so much easier when ball is in hand however, we struggled to keep the ball longer than 2 phases and our ball retention was starting to suffer. For our first game of the deployment, Martinque proved to be excellent opposition, playing expansive running rugby attacking from all areas of the pitch. They eventually ran out 41-0 winners but at least we had had our first game, the club has now got a game under it’s belt and beginning to increase it’s player & supporters numbers alike. Our second fixture was against Grand Cayman Rugby Club. Whilst the ship remained at sea and couldn’t get alongside due to protected coral, the Rugby Team mustered for a boat transfer and it was arranged for members of the Grand Cayman Rugby Club to meet us on the jetty and take us to the Rugby Pitch, within 90 minutes of leaving the ship by boat transfer we were kicking off, the 1st 15 minutes went well, score remained 0 – 0. After some fine work from the forwards the ball is released in to the backs, LS Keiller makes a break and off loads to LS Toogood who gets tackled just outside their 22. Tackle was high and penalty awarded to PORTLAND. LS Keiller steps up for the penalty. Its going to be our first points of the tour….. but the ball sails wide! Ball Retention so far has been impressive the forwards are keeping the ball and are starting to enjoy the contact area. LET Brown who was playing scrum half this week keeps sniping around the blind and finding some excellent 2 on 1 situations but the final pass is letting us down again. Grand Cayman now realise they are in for a game and stop kicking for territory and start to keep the ball in hand. They began running some great lines, offloading in the tackle and ran out eventual winners 29 – 0 The heat is causing havoc in the latter stages of the game, however, the team are proud of their performances and heads are up after all we’ve just played a side who is preparing for the 2011 rugby World Cup qualifiers.