Royal Navy Senior XV travel to Oxford for their first outing of 2017

The reigning Inter Service champions travel to Oxford for their first match of the season on Wednesday to take on the University side.  Last year the Royal Navy team made the most of their home advantage, winning 34 - 5, but this time the encounter will take place at the Oxford ground on Iffley Road.  The Oxford Blues have 14 matches under their belts already this season, but it is the first time the Navy Senior XV have played this season, with the Navy training camp only forming last week.  The students recently travelled to Aldershot to take on the Army but after a strong start they faded in the second half to lose 32 - 5.  Their match against the RAF was cancelled due to a frozen pitch.  So the Navy team will be keen to make their mark.

The base for the Royal Navy Training Camp is Fort Blockhouse in Gosport, perhaps better known as HMS Dolphin, the former home of the Submarine Service.  Assistant Director of Rugby, Major Scott Ashley, has recently returned from an operational tour in the Congo and is ready to see how his players have fared since winning the IS title.  Hopefully they didn't pile on too many pounds over the Christmas break but no doubt strength and conditioning coach, POPT Karl Thorpe, has been making sure they get plenty of time in the gym.  Those assisting head coach, Ash Coates, include former Senior XV captain, Dave Pascoe, and ex-Scotland captain, Kelly Brown, who enjoyed being involved with the Navy team so much he has returned for a second season.  Let's hope the Senior XV are as successful as the Scotland team were in their opening Six Nations match against Ireland this weekend! 

Assistant Director of Rugby Major Scot Ashley and Head Coach Ash Coates

Assistant Director of Rugby, Major Scott Ashley and Head Coach Ash Coates

Ash has named the squad, which includes many capped players.  Ben Priddey will lead the side out, in peak condition following successful completion of his Physical Training Instructors course.  He will be joined in the front row by Kyle Mason and Chris Robinson.  Cornish Pirate regular, Edd Pascoe, Olly Mason, Ben Fox, Tris Trehan and Lewis Cooper complete the pack.  Gareth Rees starts as scrum half with old U23 team mate, Greg Loydall at fly half.  Matt Bowden will be on the left wing and Jon Humphrey is at full back.  Other familiar faces on the bench include Chris Warner, Jack Basher, Rhys Dimmock-Williams, Timo Kava and Silvenusi Buinimasi.  The match kicks off at 1915 at Iffley Road, Oxford, OX4 1EQ.  Follow us on twitter live during the match @RNRugby.

Further south, the Royal Navy Women will be hosting Portsmouth Ladies RFC at HMS Collingwood, Fareham, PO14 1AS, KO 1900, looking to build on their opening win away against Dorchester Ladies. And in the West Country the Royal Navy Mariners will face Devonport Services Veterans at the Rectory, Plymouth, PL1 5QE, kicking off at 1915.  This is their opening match of the season, under the new Team Management of Warrant Officer Andy Holmes who will be keen to see the talent on offer as they begin their challenge for the Inter Service title.  A busy evening of rugby beckons. #GoNavy

Images Royal Navy Rugby Union © Keith Woodland