Promising Season So FarAs Navy Rugby approaches Christmas with an abundance of rugby success and a selection headache for the Senior XV coaches to ponder before the first of the Senior XV fixtures away against Oxford University on 2 Feb 11.
Whilst Britain froze HMS Cumberland kicked off proceedings in far warmer conditions, by winning the Al Ain 7s. Under the coaching of CPO (Dave) Sibson, Cumberland's team proved too strong for their challengers and were worthy winners. Navy centre, Dale Sleeman, proved that his form of last season has not diminished and he will again be a powerful presence in midfield. However former Navy U23s Matt Williams (Flanker) and Nial Copeland (2nd Row/Flanker) also put in notable performances.
The successful U23 team completed a hard fought victory at home to the RAF to seal the 2010 Inter Service title before a number of the team turned out for their respective Commands during finals day. Both matches, Plymouth against Portsmouth for the 3rd and 4th spot as the final saw yet again the Naval Air Command against the Royal Marines and both games provided proof that slowly Navy Rugby is growing its strength in depth. The Command matches again proved invaluable for some of the youngsters to prove themselves against more established players. However it was also the opportunity for some ‘forgotten' players to issue a reminder of their talent.
In Plymouth's victory over Portsmouth two such players came head to head. Portsmouth skipper Kev Macrossan has clearly worked hard on his fitness and led the team from the front. However Gareth Cadmore, playing at eight for the West Country team, proved that he has added a harder edge to his undoubted ball handling skills. During the final the Navy selectors had their first opportunity to look over the exciting running talents of Mne Kamikamica on the Corps right wing along with the eagerly anticipated duel between young loosehead Mne (Josh) Terry propping against the Naval Air Commands experienced John Court, who was returning from a length layoff. None disappointed and although current Navy loosehead Kyle Mason made an impact when coming off the bench he knows that the current crop of young props like Terry, Tom Blackburn and Kye Beazley are developing into real contenders for Senior representative honours.
With Navy and Combined Services lock forward, Marsh Cormack, missing the Command final, U23 captain Mne (Dennis) Scotthorne took the opportunity to further enhance his growing reputation with a very effective partnership with Stu McLaren in the Royal Marines 2nd row. Their strong lineout and work in the loose ensured that the Corps spent most of the game on the front foot. This in turn allowed one of the Naval Air Commands U23 backs, Aaron Hunt, to demonstrate that his defence has improved and could prove to be the physical presence that the Navy has looked for either in midfield or on the wings.
Finally and coming full circle Navy Rugby's success was completed during the week out in Dubai where England 7s and Navy flanker, Greg Barden contributed to England's tournament success. With such a number of players obviously in good form it is hoped that 2011 will see Navy Rugby continue to produce exciting and winning rugby on the field as it seeks to defend the Senior Inter-Service title and look to build on the very promising performance by the Women's team.