The Inverdale Challenge 2017/18 kicks off!

RN West v RN East 2016/17 season
Reservist Rory Penfold playing for RN East in the 2016/17 season
The Fleet Air Arm take on the Royal Marines in the final 2016/17
The victorious Royal Marine Team 2016/17
RN North getting the better of RN East in Leeuwarden

It only seems like a few weeks ago that the Royal Marines were facing up to the best of the Fleet Air Arm side at United Services Sports Ground in Portsmouth looking to retain their title as Inverdale Challenge trophy winners.  It was an exciting final of the regional competition and on the night (back in January 2017) the Royal Marines went home to the West Country victorious, triumphing over their WAFU colleagues 30 - 22.

This season's competition kicks off on Wednesday with home games for RN West and RN East.  At the Rectory, Devonport, the best of the West Country players will host the team from the North of the Border, RN North, kicking off at 1330.  Meanwhile over in Portsmouth at the United Services Sports Ground on Burnaby Road, the combined talents of the Eastern Region will be hoping to make the most of their home advantage when they meet the Fleet Air Arm team at the later time of 1830.  Spectators are welcome and entry is free so head along if you are keen to see an exciting evening of rugby. 

The Inverdale Challenge trophy is competed for by the five teams representing RN East, RN West, RN North, Fleet Air Arm and the Royal Marines.  Each side will compete against each other, with matches taking place at approximately two week intervals throughout the Winter, with the final round on 10th January 2018.  The two teams with the highest points score from the League stage will meet each other in the final due to be held in Portsmouth on 24 January.

In recent years the Royal Marines have dominated the competition, lifting the trophy 4 times out of 5 and their strongest competition has come from the Fleet Air Arm.  However this year the area teams will be looking to give the Royals a run for their money. 

Last year one of the matches, between RN East and RN North, was played overseas in Leeuwarden, The Netherlands.  This was to mark the centenary of a special occasion - when the first 'international' rugby match was played in the Netherlands between sailors of the Royal Naval Division who found themselves interned in Holland during the First World War.  The sailors represented Scotland and England and during their period of internment in Groningen their rugby playing example started the development and growth of rugby in the student strongholds of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Delft and The Hague. 

For more details about the other fixtures in the competition click here. Follow us on Twitter (@RNRugby) and Facebook (Royal Navy Rugby Union) to see how the competition is progressing.

Images Royal Navy Rugby Union © John Walton, Keith Woodland and Mark Andrews and Crown Copyright 2016 © PO(Phot) Wade