Sam Davies Wins Proud Heritage, Exciting Future Award
Twenty two year old centre, Sam Davies, continued development as a player of rich promise has been acknowledged with the award of the Royal Navy Rugby Union’s Proud Heritage, Exciting Future Award at the players dinner on Saturday night. The trophy was specially commissioned and fashioned from original oak and copper from HMS Victory to symbolize the proud traditions and heritage upon which the Royal Navy, the Royal Marines and Navy Rugby are founded. It is awarded to the player within the Senior XV squad who has ‘made the break-through’ during the season.
This season the award has a degree of symmetry about it. The first winner of the trophy, in 2010, was Dale Sleeman, the Royal Navy’s centre. It was his injury against Cambridge University that created the vacancy that Sam has so effectively filled during this season. With Dale now having played his last match for the Royal Navy, it is for Sam to show that he can continue his progress and become one of the Navy’s great midfield players.
2014 has been Sam’s second season in the Senior XV squad. Last year he played a supporting role including an eye-catching display against Bath, before being injured. He made his debut at Twickenham that year but for the Combined Services U23 and not the Royal Navy. He played a key role in this season’s U23 Inter Services with tries against both the Army and Royal Air Force before once more being called forward to the Senior XV squad. With Dale’s injury, he quickly cemented his place in the outside centre position, winning his first cap against the Marine Nationale in Toulon. Despite Dale’s return to fitness he held on to the starting position in the 10-0 win over the Royal Air Force.
Sam is a product of the well-respected youth policy at Gorseinnon RFC which includes current Welsh Internationals Dan Biggar and Leigh Halfpenny amongst its recent graduates. Both were a couple of years ahead of Sam but it is clear that some of their understanding of the game has filtered down; as well, of course, the trademark headgear worn by British Lion Halfpenny (and Sam Davies).
Next season Sam will need to continue his development as he will experience closer attention from the opposition. The four previous Award winners have all gone on to establish themselves as key players within the Senior XV squad and this same responsibility now falls on Sam’s shoulders. With Matt Tichias and fellow 2014 new cap, Eldon Myers, the Royal Navy has some exciting talent in the midfield.
By Geraint Ashton Jones
Images by Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones