Life's a Beach!
The teams travelled from far and wide to the glorious sands of Weymouth Beach. Ships, Naval Air Stations, Establishments and Royal Marines Units were all represented. The early part of the competition took the form of three groups, each consisting of 4 teams. At the end of the round robin of matches the group stages were won by the Fishery Protection Squadron, HMS Seahawk A and HMS Sultan. However, with all teams going through to the knock out stage there was still everything to play for.
Despite their early good fortune the Fishery Protection Squadron fell by the wayside in the second round of the knock out stage. The only other ship's team, from HMS Northumberland, made it through to the quarter final stage but even their secret weapon, RNRU Senior XV team captain, LPT Ben Priddey, couldn't help them overcome the might of 40 Commando Royal Marines and they exited the competition at the quarter final stage.
In the Women's tag completion the 4 teams from HMS Seahawk, Britannia Royal Naval College, HMS Sultan and an all-comers team, The Mermaids, took part in an introductory training session ahead of the competition proper. After some fierce competition between the teams, HMS Sultan and HMS Seahawk emerged as the most capable Women's teams making it through to the final.
The Men's semi-finals saw HMS Seahawk A face HMS Sultan while Britannia Royal Naval College A competed against 40 Commando Royal Marines. It wasn't much of a surprise when the fitness and stamina of the Royal Marines won over the Young Officers from Dartmouth and the sailors from the Air Station triumphed over the Marine Engineers from HMS Sultan. The stage was set for an entertaining final between HMS Seahawk and 40 Commando.
It was a fiercely contested match between the two teams and the skills and experience of the referees from the Royal Navy Rugby Union Referees Society were stretched to their limits in the unconventional setting of hot sand under the glorious sunshine. At the end of the second half the score was tied at 5 - 5. The competition now reached sudden death. The next team to score would be the winner. It was HMS Seahawk A team who were victorious - cheered on by their team mates HMS Seahawk B and HMS Seahawk Women.
Not to be outdone, the Seahawk Women were also crowned the champions, beating the ladies from HMS Sultan.
As the day drew to a close, Captain Ellie Ablett, RNRU Vice-President and CO of HMS Raleigh presented the ladies with their awards and trophy. Richard Powell from QinetiQ (the sponsors of the RNRU Beach Rugby competition) presented the awards and trophy to the winning men's team.
All that was left to do was to thank the officials who had given up their time to ensure a fair competition, and to thank Ady Cherrington and his Community Rugby team for the organisation and facilitation of the entire event. Our final thanks must go to the Weymouth Town Council for giving their permission for this annual event to take place. So remember - save the date in your diary next year for the RNRU 2019 Beach Rugby Competition!
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © Keith Woodland and Mark Andrews