Mariners take on the Legends in a charity match extravaganza

Bryan Milford will be a key defender (pictured left)
Dean Fentum is hoping to get a chance to kick at goal!
Hoping to get his hands on the ball Jamie Campbell-Baldwin
Ben Mardle will look to run the show from stand-off

The Royal Navy Rugby Union Mariners are providing half a dozen players for a Royal British Legion veteran combined services side (Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, Army, and Police) to take on a team bristling with international caps including the likes of Colin Charvis, Thinus Delport, Issac Boss and former Royal Marine Band Service and England cap Spencer Brown.

The Mariners will have to dig deep to take on the challenge as well as quickly learning the playing patterns of a new bunch of boys but like all things military and all things sport a cadre is soon established and the players will have made friends for life.

So to the reason for the match: we all know the good work that the Royal British Legion does but will only really think about the institution in October and November as the collectors appear at supermarkets and on the high street as we prepare to commemorate Armistice Day, but they also perform other charitable works throughout the year.

One aspect and the reason for the match is Remembrance Travel. This is the travel arm of the Royal British Legion when each year they take a range of people from World War II veterans to schoolchildren all over the world to explore, rediscover and remember the bravery and sacrifice of our Armed Forces.

Remembrance Travel has provided funds for Normandy veterans to return to France with a family member and carer, to see where they fought, however currently there is no provision for those who fought in Italy.  The allied assault in the Italian Campaign was a big turning point in bringing an end to WWII.  The Royal British Legion believe the brave servicemen who fought in Italy should also be given the opportunity to return one last time.

On average it costs £24k to take a group of veterans, their carers and medical staff on a trip back to Monte Cassino, Italy.  Veterans are now in their 90s and are often managing to get by on small pensions and cannot afford such a trip themselves.  A trip of remembrance also helps veterans to ‘put old ghosts to rest’.

The match will be played on Saturday 14th October at the Honourable Artillery Company, City Road, London, EC1Y 2BQ, the finest rugby pitch outside of Twickenham; a jewel in the City of London.  What a place to play some rugby!  The gates open at 1230 to the general public and the curtain raiser match takes place between a combined service team and the City Barbarians.  At 3pm the Mariners will take the field as a part of the Royal British Legionnaires to take on the Legends.  All the players have been promised 40 minutes and could well be asked to don another team’s shirt to help out!  A downside of playing rugby is the injuries sustained so a medical team will be on hand to administer linseed oil to the somewhat older joints.

After the rugby the real work begins as the players and Royal British Legion staff look to cajole subtly as much money as they can from the sponsors and supporters to facilitate this extremely worthwhile endeavour.  It should be a day to remember.

Should you wish please visit the website addresses below to donate:

City League Barbarians -
Combined Services -
Legionnaires -

Words by J Campbell-Baldwin
Images by RNRU © Mark Andrews