Lancaster Dubai's Exploits - Full Report

The date Thu 27 - Sat 29 Nov 08 will stick in the minds of the players and staff of HMS Lancaster's Rugby 7's squad not just for a long time but for the rest of there lives. Whilst leaving Portsmouth on 21 Aug 08 Clubz LPT Daz Hoare emailed Jill Conlon in charge of the Dubai 7's to see if they could get a team entered into the Dubai Rugby 7's, the reply was not good it was fully booked and they had a big waiting list. Clubz wasn't down hearted he just kept the persistence up. The ship was due alongside in Dubai on Wed 26 Nov 08 after escorting the QE2 in. One day Clubz was checking his emails when there it was it was better then Charlie finding the last gold ticket in the Willey Wonka Factory, the email read we have a place available in the International Overseas Category would you like to take it, Wow I almost bit her hand off. With this news off I went to see the XO as soon as I informed him his smile was bigger then the midships cross passage and he started doing summersaults in his cabin. Word spread fast around 2 deck our very own ships rugby team was going to be playing on an International stage. Time was short we had to start organising things but when your on operations on OP TELIC and in defence watches time is minimal. T-shirts were ordered through KTEE's, entrance fees paid all with the support of the sports lottery and help from Lt Cdr Barnes, CPOPT Steele and POPT Patilla. We were about to leave Bahrain and managed to get a training session in at the Bahrain Rugby Club then it was back out to sea for 3 weeks in defence watches. Training packages were designed for the team concentrating on Fartlek principals fast and slow as it would be on the pitch, also weight circuits. The guys were digging in deep even when tired due to operations. In the last week the final team had to be selected and as with all sports we had to disappoint a couple of members. With 4 days to go Clubz started waking the players up at 0600 for SAQ (Speed, Agility and Quickness) drills plus Burpees competitions. We got into Dubai on the Wednesday already to go, then our clothing arrived great timing from Ktees. That Wednesday you could sense the nervousness of the guys but they all got a good night's sleep. We had to be registered as a team 1 hour before our first game, our bus was booked with plenty of time to spare oh no horror our bus was 30 mins late and the traffic was worse then the M25 in the rush hour. We arrived at the ground with 5 minutes to spare so clubz sprinted off doing a MSFT on the way, Job done now all the players could relax a little before the first game and have a look around. As we looked around we couldn't take it all in, this great fantastic set up where England would be playing along with all the other national teams. We also had a contact in the England team it was their travel Manager Sean Bettinson so we was hoping to meet up with them, but now to get ready for our first game. After getting changed and having a group get together we were off ready to pitch 4 to play our first game only against the RAF. The whole RAF playing against a small proportion of the RN in HMS Lancaster. Lancaster started well with some great challenges going in as the game progressed you could see the difference in fitness and technique, even so HMS Lancaster never let there heads down once and the RAF run up a good 47-0. After getting showered and changed we all went off for some food and to watch some other games and enjoy the atmosphere. In our next game we were playing a French national division 2 team the Pyrenees this team had won the competition twice and finished runners up twice in the last 4 tournaments. In another hard fought game with some great moves and hard tackles being made the French ran out 69-0 winners. After this game the players needed a pep talk all I must say is these guys never once let there heads down, they fought for each other and there team work was fantastic. When you think all the other teams were gearing up for these championships training day in day out and our guys were doing defence watches in 7 On 7 off 5 on 5 off they didn't complain of being tired you could see there will to win as soon as they stepped on the park they wanted to win even to the very end they wanted to score. After a good days rest we were all up early again to get to the ground. We were due to play Vauxhall Motors from the Midlands leagues in the afternoon this gave us a chance to watch some Internationals and watch England for the first time, the night before we had received an email from Sean as the England team were asking how we got on and are looking forward to meeting us. We watched some great games and saw England come through to win against Portugal. We then had to make our way to pitch 5 and get warmed up for our game v Vauxhall Motors. As the game started you could see our guys were up for this even more then the day before. With this it happened a break through the centre and our first try by Tag it was like a big explosion and the guys were in jubilant mood. A conversion by Vads put us 7-0 up. Within minutes Vauxhall scored but couldn't convert. Then a great run by Berry and score put HMS Lancaster 14-5 up. With half time creeping up a break away try was scored by Vauxhall again not being converted at half time and 14-10 up. With only a minute for half time there's not much you can say but the feeling was good and the lads just wanted to get out there. The second half was tight with some good defence buy both teams with around 90 seconds to go Vads broke through again and scored this team were in 7th heaven and with another conversion by Vads and 21-10 the whistle sounded and HMS Lancaster with only 180+ personnel on board had beaten a big team this is what dreams are made of this was David beating Goliath. We would now go through to the plate quarter finals and play CSG Old boys from Wales. After the Vauxhall game the lads chilled out and we were entertained in the VIP area by Rolls Royce there manager there Martin and his team let us sit in the VIP area and have food and drinks whenever we wanted but as we had a game coming up the guys had to stick to soft drinks. We watched England beat USA before we set off for our Quarter final we were wished all good luck by Rolls Royce and told to come back after the game. The team were all fired up for this next game and what a game it turned out to be. CSG scored first but HMS Lancaster never let it die they started to force the game and scored a great try through Berry who powered through the centre and Vads converted, 7-7 in the Quarters. Close to the end of the first half CSG worked the ball wide and scored down the wing half time score 14-7. A good pep talk was needed. Out came the guys for the second half and had a chance straight away only for the ball to be knocked on you could sense this game could go either way. Another run through the centre the ball was played out wide but the ball was then turned over and CSG scored a quick breakaway try, within the space of 1 minute HMS Lancaster were 28-7 down. Again the team didn't let there heads down and with the move of the match starting from inside there half Lancaster worked the ball along the line all the way out wide where Nelson-Smith run in a try. Final score 28-12 the road had come to an end but what a difference 24 hours makes. What we must not forget is these guys were playing in a section which was very high in class if we had a chance we would have entered the International Social category but we entered what only we could saying that the team played with heart, pride and desire to win they done HMS Lancaster the RN and themselves proud. For a team to come out here and do what they did proves dreams can be made they fought for each other and the Royal Navy's teamwork ethos shone through, over these last 3days it had been a privilege to be called HMS Lancaster's Leading Physical trainer. For the guys the competition was over but we still had the international to look forward to and flying our ensign high Rolls Royce invited us back with them for the day. We then had the call from Sean the guys want to meet up with you after the Argentina game he said and off we went to see the guys, we had a great chat and pictures taken. We watched that day where we beat New Zealand in the Semi finals and then onto the final. What a match we were cheering so loud at the end with the score 19-12 to South Africa the English guys saw our ensign flag and came over they even started to apologise and said they wanted to win the cup for us and appreciated what the forces do down this area, they didn't have to apologise as HMS Lancaster had been privileged to attend an amazing event which none of us would ever forget for the rest of our lives. HMS Lancaster Team Staff WO Jenkins Team Manager Coach LPT Daz Hoare Travel Manager Fitness Coach Players Logs Iles Logs Vadiga Logs Tagicakibau AB Berry L/S Davies PO Rennie PO O'neil L/S O'neil AB Nelson-Smith ETME Willey L/S Mckinley AB Drysdale ps - We met the England team and had a great chat to them especially the Navy guys.