Summer Success for Weymouth Three
June’s inter unit Royal Navy Rugby Union Seven’s competition seems a long time ago. However the Weymouth event brought three Royal Marine players representative recognition and a fruitful summer of rugby, which culminates at the 49th Harpenden National Pub Sevens this Sunday. Having caught Royal Navy Sharks coach, Billy May’s eye, Lewis Cooper, Tony Pitts and Marcus Stevens have cemented their places in the Sharks’ squad and will be looking to finish their sevens season in style. It once more confirms that if players produce the required performances for their Unit or Command side, then they will earn the opportunity in the representative jersey.
At Harpenden there will also be two more new faces. Tom Wilkinson is well known to followers of Royal Navy Rugby League and earlier this season was the West’s man of the match after the State of Origin League encounter held at Leeds’ famous Headingly ground. That day he was on the losing side, but clearly made an impression on Royal Navy Sharks skipper, Manoa Satala, who coincidently was named East’s man of the match. Wilkinson comes with a good reputation from the League ranks where he has also won Combined Service honours. The other newcomer is Royal Marine winger, Shaun Houghton. Houghton was on the left wing in the winning Fleet Air Arm side in the 2012 Inverdale Challenge Cup and has been recruited through Royal Navy Rugby’s Talent Identification Programme. The Sharks at Harpenden will be his first opportunity to demonstrate his skills at the next level.
Joining these five are ten far more familiar players to Royal Navy Rugby followers. Manoa Satala continues to captain the Sharks and once more has the support of Sharks regulars Watisoni Vakalutukali, Jordan Shuttleworth, Tristan Trehan, Seti Raumakita and Marika Lavelawa. Joe Nakavulevu retains his place from the North Dorset Sevens winning squad and Iferemia Kava returns to the Sharks squad for the first time this year.
The final two places are taken by Royal Navy cap, Jonny ‘Tuna’ Marlin and U23 scrum half, Calum Cone. Jonny’s six caps have been at wing and full back. He is a player who reads the game well, which should add some playmaking depth to the Shark’s squad. Cone will renew his rivalry at scrum half with Jordan Shuttleworth. A very different style of player Calum’s lightening pass and sniping around the base of the ruck won him many plaudits for both the Royal Navy and Combined Services U23 sides.
The Harpenden Sevens will see all three Service Sevens team together for the first time this year. The RAF Spitfires return to Harpenden to defend the Barrel Trophy they won last year, whilst the Army are defending champions. The Spitfires, who continue to lead the way with their admirable charity fundraising activities, won the Calcutta Sevens earlier this summer and also took the plate trophy at both the Bournemouth and Newquay Surf Sevens. The Army, by their standards, have had a mixed season. They won the plate in both the London and Edinburgh legs of the GB7’s and were winners at the Newquay Surf Sevens. With Harpenden attracting one of the best fields of Sevens rugby specialists for a domestic tournament it is sure to be a great day of rugby and one which will truly test the Sharks. It will provide a measure for how far they have developed this season.
The final Royal Navy Sharks fixture for 2014:
Harpenden National Pub Sevens, Sunday 24 August 2014
Images by Alligin Photography / © G Ashton Jones