The Commonwealth Navies Cup Kicks Off!
The Royal Australian Navy Rugby Union were officially welcomed to the UK by the Royal Navy Rugby Union at a ceremony onboard Admiral Lord Nelson's flagship HMS Victory. The historical surroundings were the ideal location for the players of the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy to meet each other in a more friendly and relaxed situation than the one they will experience when they meet on the rugby pitch at United Services Sports Ground, Burnaby Road next Monday 12 March.
The team arrived in London from Australia as the snow was beginning to melt, after a brief stopover in France to play the French Navy 'the Marine Nationale'. For many of the team this is their first visit to the UK and they are keen to try to see some of the sights while they are here. And what better place to start than the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. In addition to meeting the opposition team, there was plenty of time for team photographs, sightseeing and souvenirs.
Royal Navy Rugby Union Director of Rugby Captain Roger Readwin took the lead during the Welcome Ceremony. He said
"On behalf of Vice Admiral Ben Key, President of the RNRU, I am delighted to welcome the Royal Australian Navy Rugby Union team to the UK to participate in the 2018 Commonwealth Navies Rugby Cup. This is the 8th time the tournament has taken place and we value the opportunity to welcome our commonwealth colleagues to Portsmouth."
President of the Royal Australian Rugby Union Captain Nick Stoker responded “We are all very excited to be here in the UK. This competition is all about the importance of building relationships both on and off the field that we can develop in our military operations in the future.”
This year's competition will be different from the previous tournaments. The Royal New Zealand Navy, the current holders of the cup, are unable to travel to the UK so will not be able to defend their title. This leaves the Royal Australian Navy aiming to avenge their defeat at the hands of the Royal Navy Rugby Union in 2014 in Auckland and win the cup for the first time.
As part of their tour, the RANRU will be in action against the RNRU President's XV on Wednesday 7 March KO 1900 at Burnaby Road, before the highlight of the trip when they meet the RNRU Senior XV on Monday 12 March KO 1930. Before they fly back to Australia there will be another rugby match, this time with the best (and fittest) of the Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy Rugby Union players combining to form a CNRC Barbarians team to face Hampshire RFC on Wednesday 14 March kicking off at 1945. All matches will be played at USSG, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth and entry is free so if you want to come along to see some thrilling rugby head down to cheer on the players. Gates will be closed during the match so make sure you arrive in good time.
Names for those in some of the pictures
Director of Rugby for the RNRU Captain Roger Readwin
President of the RANRU Captain Nick Stoker
Team Captain for the RANRU - Leading Seaman Alex Wilson from HMAS Ballarat
Team Captain for the RNRU – Leading Physical Trainer Ben Priddey from RNAS Culdrose
Royal Australian Navy Twitter @Australian_Navy
Words by DoC. Images Crown Copyright 2018 © LPhot Cater