The Army saw off the French Army by 57pts—3 at Aldershot on 16 March. The match was played in commemoration of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, and completed in concert with the commemorations being held jointly between England and France in Paris on the following day.
Andy Sanger’s men notched up nine tries including five in a very lopsided first half after the coach had committed all his big guns to the opening salvoes. Sanger said that he “was committed to an all-out assault on the French defences from the whistle.
He explained “It is early days and I am waiting for the newcomers to show their mettle, and create their own spaces in the Inter-Services squads”.
The Red’s initial possession was a bit tenuous, over eager and maybe a bit wary of the French who had showed up well at the IDRC.
The following fifteen minutes were syrup smooth with Scott Watkins finishing off a try of many hands. Hooker Pete Austin showed just what a slippery customer he can be with the ball tucked up. He ran a couple of dozen metres with various Frenchmen hanging off his shoulders—albeit temporarily.
To announce the half hour mark there was a Budgen special—with just the one pack to crush and a 1m charge before touching down in the corner.
Jack’s back at fly half—so too is Gerhard Wessels in the centre. ‘Gerhard-the-Glue’ added composure as the high numbers ran through and around each-other in an attempt to penetrate the rear trenches. Let’s be quite clear that although the French shipped five dozen on the scoreboard before the end they were hard and quick on the park. In the early stages it needed something a bit different to break down their determination—and shall we say robustness.
After good work by No9 Faz Farrell and Jack, Wessels scored a try followed by a ‘ 7 pointer—penalty for an unidentified transgression.
After the interval Sanger started to evacuate the bench to illuminating effect. Whilst Paul Llewellyn, Budgen and Chris Leathem  scored further tries, loose head Nat Titchard-Jones, Knoxy Laqekoro and Maku Koroiyadi [both back row] made an impact on a very tiring French team.
Skipper Rob Lennox is back to his best, newcomer Steff Wilson at 15 and Ifereimi Boladau made major contributions to an excellent team effort.
As the squad starts to pump-up the pressures at the Training Camp in Portugal Andy Sanger managed a glimpse of a smile. “The scrum went to plan, we gelled well in parts but need to be more clinical in specific areas–which we can work on. We probably left half a dozen tries out on the pitch, and the players know it. Jack Prasad made a difference, Faz Farrell was tops at No9 but my Man of the Match for all sorts of reasons, not least potential, was Matt Dawson at No7.
In Portugal the Army will play a Gloucester XV, return home to play the RAF on 6 April, play a Northampton Saints XV at Northampton in the Mobbs Memorial match on 13 April and then it is the Babcock Trophy at Twickenham.
Sanger’s got the throttle – onwards and climbing.