Navy Side to open its defence of Inter Services title

Following the hard fought win over Marine Nationale, it must have been very tempting to select an unchanged team for the opening Inter Service encounter against the Royal Air Force, at Newbury, on Wed 13 Apr. But due to injury, professional commitments and suspension the Royal Navy Senior XV will be without new cap ET(WE)(SM) (Ian) Cooper (HMS Ambush), SLt (Andy) Vance RN (BRNC) and Cpl (Gareth) Evans (539 ASRM).

However, the navy team has been bolstered by the return of POAET (Marsh) Cormack (854 NAS, RNAS Culdrose).  Marsh deployed to Afghanistan and only returned to the UK on 6 Apr.  Having the backing of his squadron Commanding Officer, Air Engineering Officer and most importantly his colleagues who are covering his duties, he has been released back to the UK for the Inter Service tournament before returning to theatre.

The team, as selected, will see ET(ME) (Jon) Marlin (HMS Chatham) win his first Navy cap some six months after winning two Combined Services caps.  Last season Jon joined the team late and though he produced a number of impressive performances in training did not have the opportunity to force himself into the side.  However, this season he has on a number of occasions, shown what an exciting talent he is; a player with the ability to find space in the modern day claustrophobic defences and produce those little moments that often turn tight games.

It may also prove a night to remember for SLt (Tom) Blackburn RN (HMS Sultan) and LPT (Gareth) Cadmore (HMS Raleigh).  Both have been named on the bench and would win their first cap if they came on.  Tom's wait has been a patient one having produced a number of first class performances for the Navy U23s and indeed for the Senior XV when given the opportunity. However, he has had to balance his rugby with professional training commitments, which cost him the chance of a first cap last year. ‘Cads', meanwhile, returns to the Union game after his promising debut for the Navy U21s did not translate across to the Senior XV.  However, time with the Royal Navy Rugby League, a good season with Plymouth Command and a desire to add some graft to his undoubted ball handling skills has seen him make the breakthrough this year.  As the Navy backrow positions are being fiercely contested he has had to work hard to get his first opportunity for cap.

Having trained at Brockenhurst College on Mon, the Navy Senior XV will be buoyed by the news that the college defeated Myerscouth College, Preston in the Semi Final of the BCS cup and are through to the final which, coincidently, will also be played at Newbury RFC (on 5 May).  Dave Pascoe and the team will appreciate the manner of Brockenhurst's victory, a winning try in the last minute of extra time.  Now when was the last time a game was won in the dying minutes?!

The team in full is as follows:

1.      NA K Mason *                                        (845 NAS, RNAS Yeovilton)
2.      NA B Priddey *                                      (RNAS Culdrose)
3.      AB(WS) M Roberts *                             (HMS Bulwark)
4.      POAET M Cormack *                           (854 NAS, RNAS Culdrose)
5.      Capt S McLaren RM *                           (DMOC RAF Halton)
6.      MA S Laird *                                          (HMS Collingwood)
7.      Cpl G Barden RM *                               (HMNB Portsmouth)
8.      AB(WS) W Cairns *                               (CFPS)
9.      POAET D Pascoe * (Capt)                    (771 NAS, RNAS Culdrose)
10.     CPOET(WE) W John *                         (HMS Liverpool)
11.     Logs(CS) J Drauniniu *                         (HMNB Portsmouth)
12.     ET(ME) D Sleeman *                           (HMS Cumberland)
13.     Cpl C MacRae *                                   (CTCRM)
14.     ET(ME) J Marlin                                   (HMS Chatham)
15.     CPOET(WE) D Smallbone *                (HMS Collingwood)


16.     Capt T Evans-Jones RM *                   (LWC Warminster)
17.     SLt T Blackburn RN                             (HMS Sultan)
18.     POAET J Court *                                  (829 NAS, RNAS Culdrose)
19.     LPT G Cadmore                                   (HMS Raleigh)
20.     AET G Jones *                                      (RNAS Yeovilton)
21.     Mne J Stephen *                                   (CTCRM)
22.     Cpl S Llewellyn *                                   (Cdo Logs RM)

* Denotes capped player