The finale of the Navy Rugby calendar approaches!

Ben Priddey, RNRU Senior XV team captain at Twickenham in 2017
Chris Thompson in action in 2017 Masters v Mariners
RNRU Women's team captain, Sam Alderson, in action at Kneller Hall in 2017
Royal Navy Reservist Rory Penfold in his UKF colours at Twickenham 2017

This Saturday the most anticipated match in the Royal Navy Rugby Union calendar will take place at Twickenham, the home of England Rugby.  At 1500 when the match kicks off approximately 82,000 supporters will be waiting to see which side will be victorious in the 101st Army v Navy match.

This year the winner of the Babcock Inter Service competition has already been decided.  The Royal Air Force Rugby Union proudly lifted the silver trophy after their second round Inter Service clash against the Royal Navy on 20 April at the Twickenham Stoop.  Their one point victory over the Army at RAF Halton 20 - 19, followed by the 31 - 21 win over the Royal Navy, ensured their overall victory in the three way contest and added to the celebrations in this the 100th anniversary year since the formation of the RAF.

So on Saturday the Senior XV teams are playing for the runner up position, however it is likely that the competition between the two teams will be as fierce as ever.  Both teams will be desperate to avoid the disappointment of a second defeat in the 2018 Inter Service championship so they have all to prove, which is likely to make for exciting viewing.  Royal Navy team captain Ben Priddey will lead his team out onto the pitch at Twickenham for the fourth consecutive year under the watchful eye of head coach, and former RNRU Senior XV team captain, Dave Pascoe.

However before the Senior men's teams meet in the final match of the day there are 3 other matches to enjoy.  The Veterans' teams and the Women's teams are up first at Kneller Hall.  The Royal Navy Mariners and the Army Masters will play on one pitch while the Royal Navy Women will play the Army Women on another; both matches kick off at 1030.  For the Veterans' teams the Inter Service trophy is still up for grabs.  The Army Masters over turned the home advantage to defeat the RAF Vultures at RAF Halton and the Royal Navy Mariners also won against the Vultures when they played at Kneller Hall.  The Army Masters are looking particularly strong, with a 59 - 8 victory over the RAF team but the Mariners will be determined to give them a run for their money.  The Mariners beat the Vultures 38 - 10 so they will need to tighten up in defence and avoid giving away penalties if they are to defeat the Masters.  But this is exactly what captain Chris Thompson and his team will be aiming to do.  

The Army Women will also be wanting to maintain their current form and prevent the Navy Women from getting on the scoreboard the same way they prevented the RAF Women getting any points in their 10 - 0 first round match.  The Royal Navy Women's team is much changed from the 2017 line up, with several new players being capped for the first time this season.  New team captain Sam Alderson and her team mates know it will be a tough match against the Army Women but they will play the eighty minutes determined to score and always looking for ways to improve and develop their game.

The third match of the day, and the curtain raiser at Twickenham, is the United Kingdom Armed Forces Under 23 team against the combined Oxford and Cambridge Universities team.  The game kicks off at 1200 so take your seat early if you want to see the future stars of Service Rugby in action.  Stadium tickets for this year's match have sold out but you can still be part of the action by tuning in to Forces TV who will be broadcasting live.  The match will also be shown on Sky TV (channel to be confirmed).
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton, Keith Woodland and Mark Andrews