Navy Senior XV looking for victory in France
The Royal Navy Senior XV travel to France this week looking to level the series against their French counterparts. Last year the French Navy team travelled to Plymouth and nudged ahead with 7 wins to 6 in the thirteenth meeting between the two sides with a narrow 15 - 19 victory.
Team captain Ben Priddey will lead his team out onto the pitch at the Stade Mayol in Toulon in their white shirts, keen to avenge the defeat of last year. Although the Royal Navy team scored two tries to the French team's one a series of penalties enabled the French team to notch up the 12 extra points.
But there is no point in looking back. Although there are many familiar faces in the travelling side there are also some new ones. Chris Warner is back in at prop, looking to add to the cap he won in this match back in 2016. Kye Beasley joins him and Priddey in the front row. Edd Pascoe is joined in the second row by U23 team captain, Scott Makepeace and submariner Matt Harvey joins forces with logistician Sam Matavesi and Royal Marine Jarrard Hayler in the back row.
Gareth Rees reprises his role as scrum half and is joined by Nathan Huntley who will win his 19th cap during this match. New boy, and Royal Navy Rugby Union 7s stalwart, Ben Chambers is named as the left winger with Eldon Myers his opposite number on the right wing. Loydall and Raumakita are the centres and hopefully Jon Humphrey will have his kicking boot on at full back.
The bench is an interesting mix of youth and experience. Callum Frogley will hope to win his first cap as prop as will Aaron Wilman from the Commando Logistics Regiment. At the other end of the spectrum, Royal Marine Sergeant Gaz Evans has been putting his vast experience to good use as the Forwards Coach but he does not want to hang his boots up just yet. Similarly, Marine Greg Welling has been persuaded back, having publicly declared his retirement after the Army v Navy match last season! Making up the rest of the team are a trio of Royal Marines, Ben Fox, Ollie Mason and Ben Cook, plus Naval Airman Cory Moore, Engineering Technician Sam Davies and Diver Rhys Dimmock-Williams.
The Royal Navy boys know they face strong competition from the French Navy, but following their encounter with London Irish A side last week they will be ready for the hard and fast play preferred by the French sailors. Maintaining their own discipline will be key to avoid giving away penalties. This will be another strong test for the Royal Navy side ahead of their Inter Service matches against the Royal Air Force on 20th April and the Army on 5th May. The match against the French Navy at Stade Mayol kicks off at 1800 (French time) on Wednesday 4th April.
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton