RNRU and RAFRU about to make history

The Mariners v the Vultures 2017
The Veterans Inter Service match 2017
The Royal Navy Women team captain, Sam Alderson
The Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Senior XV match 2017
The Women of the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force in action in 2017
The Senior Men’s XV Inter Service competition 2017

In recent memory the annual competition between the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force has alternated between the establishments of the two Services, HMS Temeraire in Portsmouth when the Royal Navy host and RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire when it is the turn of the Royal Air Force.  However this year, the two Unions decided that, in the 100th anniversary year of the Royal Air Force, it was time to bring the competition to a more prestigious location, to enable the growing number of supporters to be able to attend the match.   So this Friday both the Men’s XV and the Women’s XV will travel to Twickenham to play their Inter Service games at the Stoop.

The Women will kick off at 1515 and will compete for the newly named ‘Molly Rose’ trophy.  The Molly Rose Trophy will be awarded annually to the winner of the Women’s Inter-Service match between the two Services and will be presented for the first time on Friday.  The trophy was initially presented to the Royal Air Force 50 years ago.  Since then the rose bowl trophy has been forgotten, tucked away safely in a trophy store and has fallen out of use.  However in the 100th anniversary year the impressive piece has been given a new purpose which will see it presented annually to the winning Women’s team.  The trophy is named after Molly Rose.  She was a talented engineer and qualified pilot who served in the Second World War in the Air Transport Auxiliary.  Molly’s wartime role was to deliver new aircraft from the factories to the Royal Air Force and the Fleet Air Arm.  During her Service she delivered 486 aircraft and flew 38 different types of aeroplanes, including the Tiger Moth, Hurricane and Spitfire.  Molly’s family have kindly given their permission for the trophy to be named after her.

Later in the day, kicking off at 1945, the Senior Men’s XVs will compete for the Wavell Wakefield Cup.  This cup is named after William Wavell Wakefield, a pilot who joined the Royal Naval Air Service in January 1917 and then transferred to the Royal Air Force after its formation on 1st April 1918.  However the Wavell Wakefield story is even more remarkable, and it is especially fitting for the cup to honour his memory, because he was also one of the founding fathers of the Royal Air Force Rugby Union.  At one stage he was selector, secretary and captain of the team!  When he left the Service in 1923 he went on to captain the England Rugby Union side and thereafter was a very positive influence in the development of the game, including defining specialist positions for the forwards and introducing the numbering on the back of the rugby shirts.

Already one up in the Inter Service competition, having beaten the Army last week in a thrilling 20 – 19 victory, the RAF will be looking to seal the competition with a win over the Royal Navy so that they can be crowned the Inter Service champions 2018.  However the team from the Royal Navy, who will be led out by their experienced team captain, hooker, Ben Priddey, will be intending to keep the competition alive by securing a win.  This would ensure that the final round, played at Twickenham on Saturday 5 May against the Army, would be the decider.

Earlier in the day the Veterans teams, the Royal Navy Mariners and the Royal Air Force Vultures will meet across the road at Kneller Hall, kicking off at 1300.  It will be a full day of exciting rugby so if you would like to come along and be part of the action tickets will be available on Gate 3 at the Stoop priced £10 for adults and £5 for children.     

Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton