The RNRU on the eve of the Army v Navy match
The eve of the Army v Navy match is always the occasion for the wider Royal Navy Rugby Union family to come together to acknowledge the outstanding contribution of players and training support group members. This year was no exception.
In the presence of the Royal Navy Rugby Union President, Vice Admiral Ben Key CBE, and Chairman, Royal Marine Brigadier Ewen Murchison DSO MBE, the representative teams of the Senior XV, the Women and the Mariners gathered for shirt presentations ahead of their annual matches against their Army Rugby opponents. The Women's shirts were presented by Emma Uren and El Perry, from Saracens Women RFC. It was a privilege for the Navy Rugby players to be joined by the England U20 winger and her prop team mate who shared their stories about motivation and success (in particular in their victory over the Army!).
Then it was time to present the Mariners' award ahead of their final match of the season; the Mike Connolly award for the Mariners' player who has made the most impact throughout the season. This year the RNRU were delighted to be joined by Mike and his wife Elaine when the trophy was presented. Mike is a former player, Senior XV team captain, selector of the RNRU and former Mariners' Head Coach; he was recognised as a life member for his most valuable contribution to Navy Rugby. The trophy which bears his name is awarded to the Mariners' player who has shown leadership, commitment and energy in the finest traditions in the over 35s game. This year's recipient is Petty Officer Air Engineering Technician Ollie James. Ollie made an instant impression during the early part of the season, and has continued to go from strength to strength, recently earning himself the 'Man of the Match' award following his impressive hat trick of tries scored against the RAF Vultures on 20 April. A consummate rugby player, highly skilled, tenacious, fearless and with pace to burn, he sets himself a consistently high standard. His approach to each and every game and his manner within the squad are unrivalled in what is a very competitive group. All this in his first season with the Mariners! Congratulations to Ollie and good luck for the match against the Army Masters, kicking off at 1030 at Kneller Hall on Saturday 5th May.
The RNRU Women will play the Army Women on the adjacent pitch at Kneller Hall, also kicking off at 1030. The RNRU Senior XV will play the Army Senior XV at 1500 at Twickenham. The Seniors' match is preceded by the UKAF U23 v Oxbridge Universities (KO 1200). Good luck to all the Royal Navy Rugby Union teams.
Images: Royal Navy Rugby Union © Keith Woodland