Inverdale Challenge Trophy Finals Preview

The highlight of the Community Rugby season takes place tonight as the Royal Marines and the Fleet Air Arm battle it out in the final of the Royal Navy Rugby Union Inverdale Challenge Trophy.

A lot has changed in the 2 years since the trophy was last contested and on that January evening in 2020 it was the same sides battling out for Inter Command bragging rights. The road to the final has been relatively straight forward with both teams dispatching RN East and RN West whilst RN North were unable to compete this year due to additional Covid-19 restrictions. 

The sides met in Round 4 of the pool stage and the Royal Marines hammered the Fleet Air Arm 61-7. The Royal Marines are undefeated this season and going on form the Royal Marines should be favourites for the match. But mobilisations and deployments have affected all units in the Royal Navy recently and tonight’s match will see 2 very different teams compete for the Trophy compared to the ones that met in December. The Royal Marines have dragged former RN Capped players Gaz Evans and Oli Mason out of retirement to bolster the tight five and they only feature 3 players from the round 4 clash against the Naval Airmen.

Despite the outcome of December’s match the Fleet Air Arm are confident of a first Inverdale Trophy since 2017. Coach Ben Priddey has identified areas where his side should outpower the Marines, particularly within the Front Row where Chris Warner and Kye Beasley are returning to action. Ben said “December’s result was an unfortunate blip, knowing that we had already made it into the final we used the match to build depth in our squad and to develop some players. Tonight we are turning up with a strong squad who have trained together in Yeovil since Monday and I believe they will do the job against the Bootnecks tonight.”

Player Coach Oli Mason is philosophical about tonight’s match, “The result before Christmas means nothing without us performing well tonight, we are excited to see so many new and old faces wear the Royal Marines shirt and hopefully we will succeed, it is exciting to get to expose so many young players to a finals environment.”

With both teams eager to lift silverware, tonight’s encounter promises to be an interesting clash. The match will kick off at 1900 at United Services Portsmouth.