Royal Navy officials take charge
Royal Navy referees were on duty at Newbury officiating at the RAF v Army Inter Services on Wednesday 21st April. This year they were tasked with taking charge of the Women's and Veterans' matches. Unfortunately, the annual clash between the RAF and Army Senior XVs was cancelled as the Army squad was stuck in South Africa as a result of the flight disruptions caused by the volcanic eruption in Iceland.
A change to the programme for the day meant that the women's match kicked off at 3pm, with Ian Seaton (HMS Argyll) in charge, ably assisted by Dave Philpot (HMS Raleigh) and Steve Woolley (MDU Derriford). The match was an excellent advert for women's rugby and for large parts of the match very keenly contested; the RAF shocked the Army by scoring the first and last tries of the match but unsurprisingly, the Army ran out eventual winners 35-12.
The evening kick off saw the Veterans in action; Paul Burton (DES Abbeywood) who leaves the Navy in September was the referee, aided by Jane Pizii (Navy Command) and Tim Bailey (HMS Collingwood). This proved to be a ferocious contest from the outset, with the result always in doubt to the last whistle. The RAF won 10-6 and are now confirmed as Inter Services Champions having already defeated the Navy. Si Aldridge (HMS Collingwood) & Gaz Fairbairn (HMS Sultan) completed the team as reserve officials.
Stew Kilby, Chairman of Royal Navy Referees, said of the Navy representatives "officials always crave to be the invisible men or women of a sporting contest never wishing to be the centre of attention; the Royal Navy officials on the day certainly achieved this".