Post Card from Estonia (via Stansted)

President's XV Coach Owen Salmon Briefing the Squad. Image Royal Navy Rugby Union © Mark Deller
Ed Gaught in training. Image Royal Navy Rugby Union © Mark Deller
Mano Satala preparing for the match against the Estonian Barbarians. Image Royal Navy Rugby Union © Mark Deller
The 2015 President's XV Estonia Tour Squad. Image Royal Navy Rugby Union © Mark Deller

We’ve arrived! I must admit it was an interesting trip out - Boarding the bus in the very early hours of Friday morning seemed a little draconian, but it was a necessary evil in order  that we could  get to Stansted ahead of the rush, and judging by the roar of the lads snoring Jack and Royal weren’t missing any of their beauty sleep. Stansted was absolutely jammed packed (is it ever empty?) with similarly minded budget airline customers apparently all funnelling themselves towards our check-in desk! By the time the squad had checked in, we had thoroughly earned our Airport breakfast.

As we sat and ate our rations together in the remaining early hours of the new day – it wasn’t long before an eclectic mix of fellow travellers had assembled around us - returning Estonians, some chaps in business suits with brief cases, a giggling hen party, a social Rugby team downing pints like there was no tomorrow and there was even a chap dressed head to toe in rubber with a zip across his mouth (!?). Presumably this is normal for a budget airline going to Estonia?

Resplendent in their new stash - polo tops and cargo shorts and enroute for a 10 day Baltic excursion into Estonia and Latvia the President's XV squad had formed up the night before for a few do’s and dont’s briefing. The aim was made very clear – 2 games of rugby, one against the Estonian Barbarians, the other against the Latvian National side, before returning for a 3 way XVs competition – the Estonian national team, a South West Select XV (with a few ex-RN regulars coming out to play on behalf Dirty Dogs Rugby) and us. We have a relatively tough programme ahead, and managing the more social elements in moderation will be key if the squad is going to last the pace and establish their playing credentials abroad properly.

Accommodation in Tallinn has been provided by the Estonian Guards Battalion inside the old Naval base and although the buildings looks a little old and dated – ‘Peter the Great’ built them - the facilities are brand new inside. The squad are now living in 6 man dormitories, all with washing and drying facilities and we even a sauna at the end of the block. What’s not to like! The boys are happy and comfortable – albeit the menu is a little basic and tends to be a variation on boiled Pork, Cabbage and Potato, but no one’s complaining!

As for the Rugby – although we initially struggled to find a suitable Grass Training ground (a 5-a-side football pitch was the only thing on offer), we have been able to make use of the extensive dockyard quayside with the lads running their basic drills, against a backdrop of Ex-RN MCMVs alongside – slightly surreal seeing your old ship out here. The good news – the recce party (Taff Wilcock and Ady Cherrington) have now returned safely having located a grass pitch sized area for future use under the old town battlements. We’re back in business and training has gone well – the squad is a careful blend of age and youth with a mix of senior heads guiding the group and some really exciting youthful players making up the mass. This tour offers us a really good opportunity to see how these players can adapt and bond as a group, while giving them a taste of what might be on offer if they can break into the Representative sides, On first impressions, the lads are building playing coherency, their precision is developing and they are working well together. Under the guidance of Presidents XV Coach Owen Salmon they will get a really good feel for the requirements at the next Representative level. We are looking forward to our first game against the Estonian Barbarians.

The Rugby Spectator

The Team selected to play the Estonian Barbarians is as follow:


  1. Jake Reynolds
  2. Ed Gaught
  3. Mark Jones ©
  4. Alex Cragg
  5. Graham Butterworth
  6. Stew Bartlett
  7. Jarryd Hayler
  8. Lewis Cooper
  9. Ryan Cox
  10.  Kurt Gledhill
  11. Roko Kurasasa
  12. Greg Lloydall
  13. Rich Hall
  14. Luke Cooper
  15.   Manoa Satala
  16.  Harrison Marsh
  17. Grant Hill
  18. Chris Warner
  19.  Ash wakefield
  20. Ben Roberts
  21. Toby Mepham
  22. Olli Irvine
  23. James Stockdale
  24. Jarron Southernwoop