RN Community Rugby Starts 2011 with the Navy Cup Final
Navy Cup Final Preview
Following their 12-19 victory over HMS Collingwood, HMS Heron only have cup final newcomers HMS Excellent between them and a record 9th Navy Cup Final title.
A hard fought semi-final was played at HMS Collingwood which saw HMS Heron battle back from a 12-3 deficit to deservedly book their place in the 5 Jan final. After an uncharacteristic sluggish start, Heron showed that up front they had too much power and behind the scrum, in Navy U23s Humphries and Hunt, they had too much class for the Collingwood team. As the two teams went head to head there was also another interesting duel ongoing as former Navy prop, Si Burns (Collingwood) packed down against current Navy loosehead Kyle Mason. Kyle certainly didn't get things all his own way as Si, utilising all his guile and experience, which caused the younger prop a few problems. However, in the end it was the International prop Mason who clearly demonstrated why he is considered one of the best props in the Services.
With the result in the record books Heron can now look forward to extending their record number of Navy Cup Final wins. Having already won the cup 8 times they are by far the most successful team in the history of the competition. Their first victory was in the 2nd year of the competition (1972-73) which followed HMS Ark Royal's victory in the inaugural year, which is still the only victory by a seagoing team. However, the early history of the competition was not a period where Heron demonstrated their future dominance and it was not until the late 90s that they began to emerge as the dominant team within the Navy Rugby competition. Repeated success also included another record of 3 successive victories culminating in their last win during the 07 season. The team of 2010 clearly believe that another victory is over due.
Standing in their way is HMS Excellent who have proved to be a most effective team since their reformation last year. Having had their semi-final cancelled and eventually going through to the final on a walk-over against HMS Neptune. The Whale Island based team will have had a long period between Navy Cup games. However, some of the team were part of Portsmouth Command during the recent 3rd/4th place play-off against Plymouth Command. Indeed for some of their more experienced players having a break may well give them an opportunity for the various aches and niggles to be eased away.
The final, will be held at Burnaby Rd on Wed 5 Jan 2011 and is certainly a David v Goliath encounter. Heron the Leicester Tigers of Navy Rugby must be confident in achieving win number 9. However, they will need to guard against their slow start in the semi-final at Collingwood because Excellent have shown that they are more than capable of cup upsets and will be going all out to put a new name on the Royal Navy Rugby Union Knockout Cup.