Royal Marines Rugby Union - Argyll Bowl 2012
CTCRM and Premiership Rugby Club, Exeter Chiefs played host to the Royal Marines' annual Inter-Unit Rugby Union competition. The Argyll Bowl was contested from 3 - 6 September under a beating summer sun in what was for most, their first week back after a well earned summer leave.
Operational commitments meant that the Bowl was not contested last year with a 10s tournament taking place instead which was won by Cdo Log Regt RM (CLR RM). Once again we find the Corps as busy as ever, with 40 Cdo RM on the cusp of deploying to Herrick 17 and other units heavily involved in support to the Paralympics. Despite this all units were represented within four strong teams, including an amalgamation of 40 Cdo RM, 43 Cdo FPGRM and CTCRM to create a Barbarians style side.
The competition took an initial league format with every team playing each other once in 20 minute each way matches. The bottom two teams would then compete for the plate at CTCRM with the top two teams battling it out for the Argyll Bowl itself at Sandy Park, the home of Premiership Rugby team the Exeter Chiefs.
The first two games played on Monday morning saw a young 45 Cdo RM team lose out to the perennially strong 1 Rifles with a 14-3 score line, whilst finalists two years ago, CLR RM encountered the largely unknown RM Barbarians. This game could have gone either way, but the ‘Bar Bars' made the boot count, winning 14-10. After a short lunch break to refuel, all four teams went straight into their second matches that afternoon. With handling errors preventing 45 Cdo RM from finishing some impressive moves the Barbarians finished strongly with a 17-3 win, whilst CLR RM and 1 Rifles fought out a tough game with both teams competing hard in the scrum. A last minute penalty for the Army team sneaked them a win 17-15. These results meant that although each team still with one game left to play, the league positions had been decided. The following day with players licking their wounds and massaging sore limbs from the previous day's encounters, the final group games were played. 1 Rifles sneaked a marginal win 14-12, over the Barbarians team, who were beginning to gel, whilst CLR RM beat 45 Cdo to get their first win of the tournament.
A rest day on the Wednesday allowed for some recuperation time before the final day of competition. Thursday morning, in front of some buoyant support from the other players and those who could wangle an extended stand easy from their duties at CTCRM, CLR took on 45 Cdo RM once again, and after 80 mins of play, CLR RM came through as the victors to win the Plate competition 43-7. CLR RM's performances and wins against 45 Cdo RM begged the question as to why they had not managed progress further in the competition.
That afternoon, with the weather, a little warm for the players but perfect for the 100 or so spectators, 1 Rifles again battled it out against the Barbarians. A new and unforgettable experience for most was the opportunity to play at Sandy Park and the RM Bar Bars were determined not to allow their Army counterparts the opportunity of retaining the Bowl in such an impressive arena. A cagey start saw the Rifles take a 3 point lead through a penalty which was how the score remained for some time until a 1 Rifles try through some ‘sloppy' Bar Bars defending threatened to put the RM team 10 points behind at half time. The deficit was reduced to 7 points with a well struck Richie Hewitt penalty leaving the Bar Bars with a few questions to answer at half time and some work to do in the second half.
After the break, some ill discipline from the Bar Bars allowed the Rifles to increase their lead through two penalties leaving them 16-3 down. As the match progressed though, RM fitness began to show, and a late Bar Bar's penalty preceded an unconverted try by Mne Walmsley to leave the final score 16-13 to the Rifles, who one again retain the Argyll Bowl.
After the presentation by CGRM of both the Plate to CLR RM and the Bowl to 1 Rifles, players had the opportunity to enjoy some refreshments in the Chiefs VIP bar.
As well as being an enjoyable competition, the Argyll Bowl allows RMRFC to scout potential new players for the Corps' side. The competition provided evidence of some talented young players in 45 Cdo RM and CLR RM as well as a number of individuals who were spotted in the Bar Bars team. The future is looking good for RM rugby, not just for this season, but hopefully for many seasons to come.