Royal Navy v Royal Australian Navy CNRC 2014

Dave Pascoe - Royal Navy captain was content with his teams workmanlike performance, but highlighted there was more to come
Jon Humphrey - breaking away for his 1st half try, gave a solid performance marshalling the back three
Tom Blackburn - makes his return to representative duty. Came on as an impact player to work the RANRU frontrow as they fatigued
Tom Davies - an Ex-Ospreys player, made multiple line breaks from all over the park turning in a really strong performance - subsequently named man of the match
Matt Bowden - delivered some clinical finishing in heavy conditions
Dave Fiarbrother - maintained a massive work rate throughout the game and continually crossed the gain line providing good momentum
Tour sponsors and supporters MBDA, QinetiQ and Orchid are delighted with the tour shirt

Match report: RN v RAN – Mon 22 Sep 14; Ngataringa Sports Complex, HMNZS PHILOMEL

Match-day dawned to clear evidence that the weather forecast had been entirely accurate: pouring rain and a westerly gale threatened to prompt postponement.  However, by 1300 the clouds had cleared and bright sunshine prevailed for the rest of the afternoon, albeit with a strong wind blowing diagonally across the pitch.

RN and RAN teams walked out from the changing rooms side-by-side, but with barely a glance across at each other.  Both teams knew that a tough contest awaited them, and that the losers would struggle to achieve overall tournament success, whilst the victors would have built a solid platform from which to aspire to win silverware.  And that is to mention nothing of bragging rights.  Everything was to play for.  National anthems were sung with gusto and feeling.

CPO Dave Pascoe won the toss for the RN and elected to play into the wind for the first half.

The RAN kick-off was secured and the RN began to work phases of possession with the ball in hand.  The early minutes thus saw good pressure being applied on the RAN defence which showed some early frailties.  However, one or two handling errors by the RN allowed the RAN to ease the pressure - although some of the early scrums suggested that RN dominance was imminent at the set-piece.  Indeed, to secure their own put-in against the RN drive, the RAN scrum-half was to be seen placing the ball at the feet of his hooker who was now, apparently, in the second-row…

During the first 15 minutes, the RN crossed the RAN try-line with AB Sam Davies touching down, only for the referee to disallow the try for a forward pass – correctly so.  On two other occasions the RN almost crossed for a score but were held-up just short by desperate and brave RAN defensive work. NA Kye Beasley was the nearest to scoring, after a rampage through the RAN forwards brought him to within a couple of metres of the line.

Then, on 18 minutes, the nature of the game changed.  Some rare RAN possession saw a high kick dropped by the RN defensive line, giving away field position, initiative, and possession.  The RAN capitalised, throwing wave after wave of runners at the RN defenders, and creeping ever closer towards the try-line.  The pressure told, with the RN giving away a succession of 5 penalties, with CPO “Sumo” Thompson receiving a yellow card for handling in a ruck, and the referee advising that the next such offence would likely see another yellow card and a penalty try.  As with the previous penalties, the RAN tapped and ran, but this time they broke the RN line to score the first try of the game (to the left of the posts) after 22 minutes.  A successful conversion and RAN led by 7-0.

From the restart, RAN secured good possession and built several phases until the RN gave away another penalty.  With the RAN kicker finding his target, the score read 10-0 for RAN.

Now, after near-enough 30 minutes of play, the RN upped their game, gained possession and camped in the RAN half, setting up LET(WE) Ian Cooper for a try when he broke the RAN line with a typical hard driving run.  CPO Dave Pascoe failed with his conversion attempt, the ball sliding just wide of the posts.  10-5.

RN heads were up now, and they smelt Aussie blood.  More good possession and repeated phases of play saw Mne Richard Cadywold score in the right-hand corner.  Another missed conversion and the scores were level at 10-10.

With Thompson now back on the field, the RN upped the tempo even more as half-time approached.  By now, they were dominant in the set-pieces as well as in open-play, and it was just a matter of time before another score came.  On 38 minutes, the best rugby of the half saw the ball in the hands of AET Jon Humphrey who beat three RAN tacklers with superb changes of direction to score under the posts. The conversion was by Cadywold. 17-10 to the RN at half-time.

The messages in the break were simple from the RN coaching team: keep it simple; retain the ball; reduce the penalty count.  One tactical substitution saw Lt Tom Blackburn replacing Beasley in the front-row of the RN scrum.

The RN kicked-off the second half with the wind on their backs and immediately took the game back into the RAN half, building pressure such that, on 44 minutes, RAN conceded a penalty in front of their posts.  It was converted by Cadywold: 20-10.

Strangely, the RN resisted the (obvious?) game-plan of using the wind with a kicking game in the second half and continued to play with ball in hand, but the strategy was successful as, on 47 minutes, Lt Matt Bowden (making his CNRC debut for the RN) scored a try after a strong run down the left-hand side. Another successful conversion by Cadywold: 27-10 to the RN.

Another tactical substitution on 60 minutes saw LPT Johnny Stephen replacing Pascoe, with the captaincy passing to POAET Marsh Cormack.

The RN was now  comfortable: dominant on the score-board; dominant in the set-piece; dominating possession. Repeated line-breaks followed, most notably by Man-of-the Match AB Tom Davies, ensuring increasingly desperate RAN defensive efforts and, on 62 minutes, a penalty awarded to the RN, with Cadywold scoring another 3 points with his reliable boot. 30-10.

But now the nature of the game changed. Further RN tactical substitutions followed on 69 minutes (AB Sam Benzie for Humphrey), 70 minutes (AB Josh Jones for Tom Davies and ET(ME) Jack Basher for Cooper), 74 minutes (Lt Jack Tindle for Thompson) and 75 minutes (Lt Ed Gaught for Mark Jones). These perhaps disrupted the flow of the RN game, although, on 74 minutes Basher scored another try, converted by Cadywold to make the score 37-10. But the officials now seemed to struggle to control the game and there were several scuffles and “handbags” incidents – evidence of mounting RAN frustration. And, most unfortunately, on 75 minutes, Tindle was yellow-carded for a “scythe tackle” and followed on 78 minutes by Cormack, leaving Cpl Dave Fairbrother to captain the RN side for the final few minutes.

As the clock counted down, and the game drew towards its, by now foregone, conclusion, Mne Seti Raumakita replaced Sam Davies, just so that he could (in his own words, but delivered rather like Hannibal Lecter)) “taste some contact”…

At the final whistle, with the score at a handsome 37-10 in their favour, the RN could be satisfied with a job well done, but also in the knowledge that they had failed to close on all their scoring opportunities and that a much more clinical, and disciplined, performance would be required against the RNZN on Friday 26 September.  

 RN Team:

  1. AET Kye Beasley, RNAS CULDROSE
  3. Mne Mark Owen, Command Logistics Regiment
  4. Musician Ed Pascoe, Royal Marines Band Portsmouth
  5. POAET Marsh Cormack, RNAS CULDROSE
  6. LET(WE) Ian Cooper, HMS PALEIGH
  7. Cpl Dave Fairbrother, 45 Cdo
  8. CPOAET Chris Thompson, HMS SULTAN
  10. Mne Nathan Huntley, 30 Cdo
  11. Lt Matt Bowden, HMS SOMERSET
  12. AB Tom Davies, HMS ILLUSTRIOUS
  13. AB Sam Davies, HMS OCEAN
  14. Mne Richard Cadywold, CTCRM
  15. AET Jon Humphrey, 845 Naval Air Squadron
  16. Lt Ed Gaught, Navy Command HQ
  17. Lt Tom Blackburn, HMS SULTAN
  18. ET(ME) Jack Basher, HMS LANCASTER
  19. Lt Jack Tindle, HMS RALEIGH
  20. MneSetiRaumakita, 30 Cdo
  21. LPT Johnny Stephen, BRNC
  22. AB Josh Jones, HMS OCEAN
  23. AB Sam Benzie, HMS AMBUSH

Players not available for selection due to injury:
Cpl Tom Cowley, 42 Cdo
Mne Dom Taylor, 42 Cdo

Match report written by Commander John Cunningham RN
Images © Royal Navy Rugby Union 

The Royal Navy Rugby Union would like to thank our tour sponsors MBDA and QinetiQ, we are extremely grateful for their continued support.

The Royal Navy Rugby Union are playing in a new tour shirt which is in support of the charity Orchid Orchid exists to save men's lives from testicular, prostate and penile cancers through pioneering research and promoting awareness.

The Royal Navy Rugby Union would like to thank our tour sponsors MBDA and QinetiQ, we are extremely grateful for their continued support.

The Royal Navy Rugby Union will play in a new tour shirt which is in support of the charity Orchid Orchid exists to save men's lives from testicular, prostate and penile cancers through pioneering research and promoting awareness.

- See more at:



MBDA Orchid Male Cancer Charity


Commander John Cunningham RN
Images © Royal Navy Rugby Union - See more at: