Service Sides Sit at the Summit
For the first time in a long time the Royal Navy Rugby Union’s two accredited clubs sit atop their respective leagues. United Services Portsmouth RFC are on top of Hampshire 1 and Devonport Services RFC are leading South West 1 (West). With both clubs doing so well it seemed like a good time to do a quick mid season review of both sides.
United Services Portsmouth RFC
Since returning to league rugby after a difficult period United Services Portsmouth RFC have gone from strength to strength both on and off the field. The club enters its 140th year with a new coaching team in place headed up by Petty Officer Nathan ‘Pony’ Moore they have started the season off positively, despite Covid preventing them from playing any preseason fixtures, they have amassed 10 wins from 13 games, picking up try bonus points in 9 of their matches. As the second half of the season starts the aspiration to consistently field a 2nd XV on a regular basis becomes closer to reality, going from 20 players in August to over 40 players at turn of the year consistently attending training of which 15 are servicemen, with an additional 7 servicemen currently deployed. With a number of ships returning to Portsmouth they are hoping to encourage more servicemen to join the squad, with training taking place at HMS Temeraire on the 4G pitch every Thursday 1900 – 2045.
Away from playing but very much on the field, the club welcomed former Club President and current RFU President Jeff Blackett to formally acknowledge the renaming of the stand to the Arthur Harrison VC stand. Later that evening Jeff was the guest of honour at the club's inaugural Trafalgar Night Dinner, held in HMS Nelson Wardroom with the desire to make the event an annual occasion to further strengthen the links between the club and the Royal Navy.
Devonport Services RFC
Devonport Services RFC are thriving in their first season after the enforced break due to lockdown. The men’s first XV currently sit at the top of South West One (West) at level 6 in the RFU league ladder and our men’s second XV are also doing well, sitting 4th in Devon Merit Table 1. Although unable to play rugby last season the coaching team of Mike Lewis and Richard Goldsby-West kept players interested in the game by offering different style training sessions based around the RFU Covid Laws at the time. This has helped with player retention and is now bearing fruit as we can see in the league tables, with numbers at training at our Keyham ground on a Tuesday and Thursday evening high. The players and coaching team are now focused on maintaining this form to the end of the season as we push for promotion to the South West Premier league.