Trelawney's Army Provide Navy Commonwealth Cup Shake Down

Looking Forward, Remembering Our Past With the 2009 Babcock Commonwealth Cup looming large next month, Navy Rugby’s Senior XV kicks off a longer than usual season with a game against a Cornwall Select XV. The game will be played at Hayle RFC on Wednesday 23rd September; kick off 19:30. It promises to be a poignant evening for a number of reasons. It will be the first time the two sides have met since the fateful evening at the Rectory and the tragic loss of Mne Craig ‘Hodgie’ Hodgkinson in November 2006 on the eve of his 27th birthday. The fact the match serves as a preparation game for the Commonwealth Cup is most apposite as it was during the Royal Navy’s successful defence of the trophy, in South Africa, during 2006, that Hodgie first announced his arrival on the Navy Rugby scene. Both sides will be observing a minutes silence in Craig’s memory before kick off. As ever with an early start to the season the Navy will be without a number of players due to operational and training commitments. However this will give the opportunity for some of the youngsters coming through to showcase their talents. One such player is Dale Sleeman, (HMS Cumberland), who missed much of last season due to deployments. Navy Rugby is very grateful to the Cumberland for landing Dale so that the exciting twenty year old can compete in the forthcoming Babcock Commonwealth Cup. Indeed the support of a number of front line and training Units has been overwhelming. The team has always relied upon the flexibility and good will of the Corps and Fleet Air Arm units who regularly provide the backbone of the squad. However more and more ships are finding ways to release players, often during busy periods of work up or pre-deployment. The support for example of HMS Liverpool’s WE department who provide two of the Commonwealth Cup squad(Wayne John & Dane Smallbone) is a significant boost the to the Navy’s chance of retaining the trophy. Likewise HM Ships Ark Royal, Bulwark and St Albans have all proved adaptable in releasing personnel. With the ever-increasing pressure on the training pipeline Navy Rugby is grateful for the significant support from BRNC, CTCRM, Collingwood and Sultan. With club captain, Dave Pascoe (RNAS Culdrose) at sea for the match, the team will be led by England VIIs International, Greg barden, RM Poole. Greg will be reverting to his more familiar position in the centre having played last season at wing and fullback. Greg will also be able to welcome back into Navy colours, Damo Chambers (CTCRM). The influential lock forward missed the Inter Services due to a broken foot. However the team will be missing a couple of key players in Calum McCrae (CTCRM), John Court, Ben Priddey (both RNAS Culdrose), Winston Kuva (Cdo Logs RM) and Les Dennis (HMS Nelson) who are all recovering from injury. In Dave Pascoe’s absence and with Cowboy John (HMS Liverpool) also at sea exciting scrumhalf Jonny Stephen will make his first start since the match against Marine Nationale last season. The U23 player will be looking to further consolidate an excellent start to his season which included playing very effectively for Bath Rugby in the 2009 Middlesex Sevens. They say possession is nine tenths of the law and therefore anyone who has watched Jonny’s progress would not be surprised to see him hold on to his starting place during the cup competition. The Cornwall game will see the Navy shorn of its dual code players as the match falls in the middle of the Rugby League season. However a number of them will no doubt force themselves in to contention when the squad is announced. All at Navy Rugby (Union) who that the League players re-join the squad buoyed by Inter Service League success. Immediately after the Cornwall match Navy DoR, Lt Cdr Geraint Ashton Jones RN (Fleet Command) and new Head Coach, CPOPT Billy May (HMS Nelson) will be sitting down to announce the Commonwealth Cup squad. It is hoped to announce this by Friday.