With the final pre-Inter Services fixture cancelled between the Army (W) and Aylesford (W) the Army travelled to Oxford to take part in the second Charlie Lloyd Memorial 10’s.
Charlie Lloyd, a Loggie, it was fitting to see the first game of the day; RLC (W) v Army (W). With no time for pleasantries, both teams worked hard in the Oxfordshire sunshine; firm ground and sunshine was ideal for 10’s (who needs Portugal). There was no love lost in the contact area, but it was the Army who managed the ball better and created space to score early on.
The Army controlled the game well, keeping the ball alive and away from contact. The RLC defence made the Army work hard for the points; pressing hard, chasing down and contesting well in the tackle area. There were glimpses of opportunity for the RLC in attack, but the disciplined Army defensive line was not going to be breached.
The Army continued this style of play against the other 2 teams in the group; Chesham and Oxford. Each game created challenges, but the Army structured play held firm and they went through to the semi-final without conceding a point.
The semi-final was against the runners up from League Two, Newbury (W). The game started fairly even with both teams making unforced mistakes and the game being played between the 10 meter lines. After regaining possession the Army stepped up a gear, drawing in the Newbury defence to create space, which was fully exploited by the Army to take the lead.
A further 2 scores in the first period saw the Army in control. Unfortunately just before halftime Army Back row forward, Capt Verity Skinner RLC was injured and had to be taken to hospital for further treatment. The team regrouped at half time and stepped on in the second half defending efficiently and attacking with composure and flair; more points scored in the second period and still nothing conceded.
A long day with one game remaining; the 12 minutes each way final between Army (W) and Find Rugby Now (FRN). FRN are an invitational side that had progressed well into the final and were the current holders of the trophy.
As expected the first few minutes of the game saw the teams cancelling each other out. A solid defensive press from the Army forced FRN to kick away possession. This opportunity was taken fully by the Army; controlling possession, the gap was created and the first points were on the board. The discipline and belief shown by the Army defence started to take hold and with turn over ball Army Captain, Cpl Jane Leonard RE made a break supported by Capt Gemma Rowland RA; the current Welsh International was the perfect foil allowing the former England International to cross the whitewash. A further score before the break put the Army in control.
The final changes were made 2 minutes into the second half and the Army team maintained the high standard they had set themselves throughout the day. Many points scored and none conceded throughout the 5 games was better than expected. The score lines look good and winning the trophy is fantastic; it was the individual, unit and team performances that the Army Coaching Staff were focussing on.
Head Coach Capt Glyn Barraclough RAMC said: “This platform allowed players the opportunity to show their Rugby qualities; different positions, more space and changes to structure. It throws up tests that can be masked in the 15 a-side game; all positive stuff to lead us into the 2015 Inter-Services campaign. The injury to Verity is disappointing; V has been a fantastic addition to the squad and has played very well in a Red shirt throughout the season. It is unfortunate, but injuries such as these go with the contact sport we choose to play. We all wish her a speedy recovery and very much hope that she will be back to add her support to her fellow squad players for the RAF and Navy fixtures.”
Next for the Army (W) is the first fixture of their 2015 Inter-Services Campaign on Thursday 30 April against a rejuvenated RAF (W) at the Army Rugby Stadium Aldershot.