Master Scavenger Is Top Dog
Though it is the newest of the Royal Navy Rugby Union’s awards, the Mike Connolly Trophy has already established itself amongst the Mariners team as a prestigious award where the winners are respected throughout the squad. Its first recipient, Wilf Rees was a backrow forward that Mike could identify with and the same could be said about this year’s winner Guy Pallett.
Though Mike played either Number 8 or blindside flanker he was part of many back rows where harmony was achieved through having an out and out openside flank forward. Such players have to have a bit of mongrel about them as they spend the game scavenging on the ground being a nuisance to the opposition at every occasion. In the modern game the tackle turnover is priceless and in Guy Pallett the Mariners have uncovered a rare gem. His turnovers this season have often given the quality of ball that their centres Jamie Phillips and Max Boyce have thrived upon. When he is not turning over possession he can usually be found with his face in the dirt slowing the ball or operating in the twilight zone of offside at the ruck to pressure the opposition half back or fly half.
It is a testament to Guy’s ability and personality that in his first season with the squad he has won the award. Having missed out on selection for the Fleet Air Arm command side he attended the Mariners trials and since then has not looked back. A regular man of the match winner he capped an excellent performance against his former employers, the Royal Air Force, with a deserved and well taken try.
The rugby man within Mike Connolly would have appreciated the skills that ensured Mariners winger Sam Halofaki was awarded the trophy in his name last year. However his decades of intimate experience of the abrasive, battling qualities that make for an effective backrow forward would no doubt endorse Guy Pallett as a worthy third winner of the Mike Connolly Award.
Images by Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones & © Lee Crabb