Let the 2017 Inter Services Championship Commence!

Chris Robinson (right) and Kyle Mason helped the Navy to a resounding win over Esher earlier in the season
Senior XV Team Captain Ben Priddey in the first match of the season
Helen Stevenson should be named in the Women's starting line up
Dean Fentum wrestles with the Torpoint Veterans

The highlight of the Services' Rugby calendar gets underway this Wednesday when the Royal Navy travel to RAF Halton to take on the Royal Air Force in the first instalment of the 2017 Inter Service competition.  Spectators will be treated to a trio of matches, commencing at 1030 with the Veterans' match, followed by the Women at 1230 and the Senior XV at 1500.  

The Royal Navy Mariners will be looking to avenge their home defeat at the hands of the RAF Vultures last April.  Losing several players to injury and making a series of unforced errors, the Mariners never got into their stride, and it wasn't until the final minutes of the match that Russ Sayer scored the consolation try.  This year in the run up to the Inter Service match the Mariners have had mixed success, including wins over Torpoint Veterans and HM Prison Service, but against Havant RFC and Torbay Sharks they let the opposition dominate in the first half of the match and failed to make a regain in the second half.  Named on the team sheet are many familiar faces with IS experience; full back Russ Sayer, prop Keith Lister and lock Paul Mortensen.  Members of the 2015 IS Mariners' winning squad, Aidan Riley, Sam Halofaki and Max Boyce will be looking to repeat that victory.  And hopefully making his first IS appearance for the Mariners will be former Senior XV lock, Marsh Cormack.  For the full team list see below.

The Women's team manger Jane West has named a squad of 25 from which she will nominate her starting line-up.  Likely starters are IS veterans Pam Williams-Wilson, Sam Alderson, Fiesha Greene, Sarah Jenkins, and team captain Charlotte Fredrickson.  However the players know they will face a strong light blue side, with a likely smattering of International players.  After their best performance ever against the French Navy at the end of March the Navy side will want to give the RAF team a competitive game.

The last match of the day is the Senior XV clash.  The Navy made the most of their home advantage in 2016, clinching victory by one point, and the RAF will be keen to turn the tables this year.  Several players will be looking at significant cap milestones; team captain Ben Priddey will win his 25th cap when he leads out his team, with props Gareth Evans and Kyle Mason looking for their 26th and 28th cap respectively.  Hooker Harry Collins and flanker Dom Taylor should both reach double figures gaining their tenth cap.  Whilst at the other end of the scale, new joiners Scott Makepeace and Sam Matavasi could win their first Royal Navy representative caps if they get off the bench. 

With the weather forecast promising a fine day, all the players will be hoping the sun is shining on their team.  Whatever the weather it will certainly be an exciting day, setting the standard for the remainder of the IS competition.           
Mariners' Team List: Keith Lister, Richard England, Jan Geldard, Aidan Riley, Paul Mortensen (c), Marsh Cormack, Stephen Hillman, Matthew Smith, James Meluish, Manoa Satala, Veresa Valemei, Max Boyce, Gareth Vallender, Lai Daku, Russ Sayer, Rob Jones, Robert Cozens, Bryan Milford, White, Brian Stokes, Stephen Fidock, Sam Halofaki, Dean Fentum.

Women's Team List: Pam Williams-Wilson, Amy Risker-Woods, Emily Park, Helen Stevenson, Anne-Marie McIntyre, Sam Bannard, Charlotte Fredrickson (C), Stacey Hargrave, Kirsty Marlor, Sarah Jenkins, Drew Powell, Nicola Elvidge, Isobel Rawlinson, Ollie Critchley, Sam Alderson, Kiera Gavan, Pippa Hutchinson, Kate Parkman, Alice Kightley, Fiesha Greene, Bex Andrews, Abi Gilbertson, Billi Staite, Katie Ives, Megan Collyer.

Senior XV Team List: Gareth Evans, Ben Priddey (c), Mark Owen, Edd Pascoe, Matt Harvey, Ben Fox, Dom Taylor, Dave Fairbrother, Cory Moore, Nathan Huntley, Matt Bowden, Sili Buinimasi, Eldon Myers, Greg Welling, Jon Humphrey, Harry Collins, Kyle Mason, Chris Robinson, Scott Makepeace, Sam Matavesi, Gareth Rees, Rich Cadywould, Seta Raumakita. 

Images Royal Navy Rugby Union © Keith Woodland © John Walton © Mark Andrews