The 2017 'Entente Cordial' Challenge Kicks Off!
With the series levelled at six a piece, the Royal Navy Rugby Union Senior XV will be looking to make the most of their home advantage when they meet their French Navy counterparts on Wednesday evening at Plymouth Albion RFC.
The annual 'Entente Cordial' fixture between the Royal Navy Rugby Union and the French 'Marine Nationale' was established in 2005, the year that marked 200 years since the Battle of Trafalgar. The match serves to strengthen the ties between the two Navies and after the competition on the pitch there is always post-match camaraderie between the teams.
This year the event takes place in the West Country, and both the French men's and women's teams have been hosted at HMS Raleigh in the days preceding the games. The Royal Navy Women's team have been conducting their pre-match preparation at Britannia Royal Naval College, Dartmouth, and the RN Senior XV visited RAF St Mawgan.
The action will take place in Plymouth with the Women up first, playing on the pitch at HMS Drake kick off 1400. Team Manager, Jane West from Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, has named her team for the match, with several players being veterans of previous encounters against the French females. Team Captain, Charlotte Fredrickson and inside centre, Sarah Jenkins, both travelled to France last year, as did a good proportion of the team, including flanker Fiesha Greene, prop Pippa Hutchinson, scrum half Olivia Critchley, lock Helen Stevenson and hooker Alice Kightley. These ladies know they will face fierce competition from the visiting French team. One of the Royal Navy team, 2nd Row Abi Gilbertson is a Royal Navy Reservist based at HMS King Alfred in Portsmouth. The full team details are below.
Plymouth Albion RFC will host the Men's match at their ground on Damerel Close, Plymouth which kicks off at 1800. Spectators are welcome and tickets are available on the gate priced £5. The Senior XV head coach, Ash Coates, has selected his team, with an eye on the forthcoming Inter Service competition which kicks off in April. Team Captain, Ben Priddey, will lead his team out, after returning to fitness following an injury. He links up with Kyle Mason and Chris Robinson in the front row, with locks Edd Pascoe and Matt Harvey behind. Royal Marines Ben Fox, Dave Fairbrother and Dave Taylor complete the Forwards. Gareth Rees and Rich Cadywould pair up as scrum half and fly half, with Matt Bowden, Jack Basher, Eldon Myers, Greg Welling and Jon Humphrey as the backs. Named on the bench are Harry Collins, Gareth Evans, Mark Owen, Ollie Mason, Lewis Cooper, Cory Moore, Nathan Huntley and Seti Raumakita.
Both teams will want to take the series lead so an exciting evening of rugby will be guaranteed. Tickets are on sale via the Plymouth Albion website www.plymouthalbion.com
Women's Team: Pippa Hutchinson, Emily Park, Pam Williams-Wilson, Abi Gilbertson, Helen Stevenson, Fiesha Greene, Charlotte Fredrickson, Stacey Hargrave, Olivia Critchley, Isobel Rawlinson, Drew Powell, Sarah Jenkins, Nicola Elvidge, Bex Andrews, Sam Alderson, Alice Kightley, Kiera Gavin, Lorraine Osman, Rhiannon Dilmore, Katie Ives, Kirsty Marlor, Megan Lunn, Billi Staite.
Images Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton