Working Lunch, Limited Refreshment
Kneller Hall, two matches run in parallel, the ever-increasing crowd on top of the play. Twickenham, 82,000 partisan fans and the Armed Forces most significant sporting event. Army Navy Day in South West London and the 97th edition of this fearsome sporting rivalry. Between Kneller Hall and 15:00 the car parks of the stadium host the biggest Service reunion of the year. The raucous banter drowns out the forgotten match. With a 12:00 kick off the fourth match that takes place on Army Navy day, sees the best of the Combined Services’ U23s take on the combined Oxford and Cambridge University U23s. This year, having missed out on refereeing the Senior RAF v Army match, the U23s match will be officiated by Royal Navy number one referee, Duncan McClement. He will need to put on hold any plans for joining the West Car Park revelry until after lunch as this game is traditionally played at break neck speed with very few stoppages.
It is a fitting end for what has been an excellent year for Duncan. Having narrowly missed out on this appointment last year, impressive performances in the FIRA AER U18 championship, the Scottish leagues and on European exchange have left the selectors little choice but to appoint him as referee in 2014. This same form had given rise to his Inter Service appointment, which would have seen him win his Royal Navy refereeing colours. However not for the first time his professional commitments, on the very busy staff of Flag Officer Sea Training, caused a change of plans. Duncan had to swap refereeing at RAF Halton for sea riding on board HMS Torbay. As a submariner he would not have appreciated the clear blue skies and unbroken sunshine but he would have relished officiating one of the best RAF v Army matches in recent memories.
However the U23 XV game will bring it’s own challenges and rewards. Last season Oxbridge raced out to an unassailable lead and Combined Services will be determined to match the early Oxbridge intensity. Potentially an explosive start to the lunchtime game but one which Duncan should not only enjoy but also contribute to.
Congratulations on a deserved appointment at the end of an excellent season in the middle.
Images by Alligin Photography / © Geraint Ashton Jones