Sun, sand and gum shields!
Unless you have literally had your head buried in the sand you won’t have failed to notice the FIFA World Cup 2018 is on in Russia, and England are doing quite well; however, after the World Cup is over you have the RNRU beach rugby in Weymouth to look forward to.
The World Cup final will take place on the 15th July (with the trophy back in the UK perhaps?), so Ady Cherrington, Royal Navy Rugby Union Rugby Development Officer, invites you to the ride the wave of national success and visit the beautiful coastal town of Weymouth. So bring your shipmates, your kit, your gum shields but you can leave your boots behind. Oh and bring a sun hat, the Met Office says the sunny weather is here to stay.
Kudos to BRNC, HMS Defender and HMS Northumberland for having their admin squared away as they were quick off the mark in getting their registration forms in to confirm their entries. The RNRU is keen to improve on numbers annually and what better way to make ‘time for sport’ than on a beach throwing a ball around, enjoying the sunshine in a friendly competition with the rest of the Navy Rugby family.
Pleasingly QinetiQ continues to throw their support behind the spectacle as the sponsor of the event, supporting the event on the day providing some vociferous support and of course the silverware.
So what is the format of the beach rugby competition?
Men’s Competition (Contact) - Each Unit/Ship/Establishment may enter a maximum of 2 teams comprising of 10 players. Team members are to be borne on their respective team’s Unit, thus conforming to the eligibility rules. All players are to be registered at the start of the competition.
Women’s Competition (Touch Rugby) - ‘Pitch up and Play’, this competition is designed as an introduction to the game of rugby. Women are invited to just turn up and play or if numbers permit enter as a team from a Unit (maximum of 10 players). Individuals will be placed in teams on the day.
A fun coaching session will take place prior to the competition commencing and judging by the smiles on the faces of previous participants after the RNRU Community Coaches’ fun and games, it is certainly worth the journey to Dorset.
The teams will be organised into pools before a knock out stage which will eventually determine the winner. A Plate Final will also take place offering more to play for. The collective noun for a group of RNRU referees has yet to be decided but knowing that the men in the middle are consummate professionals will be of comfort to the teams. The laws have been greatly simplified so if the teams know that ball must go laterally or backwards in the pass, they will cope admirably. The games will be short and sharp with fast turn overs, the intention of which is to empty the lungs, promote quick hands and decisive attacks in an open rugby environment but with the overall objective of making the contests fun.
An all Fleet Air Arm Cup Final in 2017 saw HMS Heron win the tournament against HMS Seahawk in a combative period of extra time. The surprise (though not to the team) winner of the ladies’ tournament was HMS Ocean ‘B’ team with the cadets of BRNC competing until the end.
Sadly, HMS Ocean will no longer be available to challenge for the trophies but perhaps PHM Atlantico (for those that don't know this is the name the Brazilian Navy have given to HMS Ocean) might be interested, after all Brazil has some of the finest beaches. And who will be able to knock the Airmen off their perch? Could an establishment, a Cdo unit or indeed a ship mount a suitable challenge? You’ll never know until you fill in the registration form…
For further details regarding the day or how to enter a team please read the Festival Memo or contact the RNRU Rugby Development Officer, Ady Cherrington or telephone 07764 960395.
Words: Jamie Campbell-Baldwin
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © Keith Woodland