Head Coach Major Burnie Burnard MBE had the first opportunity to see how his senior mens team would shape up for the coming season with the Army hosting Oxford University at the Army Rugby Stadium on a bitterly cold night.
Some ‘old and new’ players pulled on the famous ‘RED’ shirt the previous evening as an ‘A Team’ tip toed through the mud at Butts Arena in Coventry and put in a spirited performance losing to a very strong Coventry side featuring several Championship starters and several full internationals; they went down 34-10.
The Army and Oxford Blues had met at Iffley Road in October when the Dark Blues had fielded a full Varsity team and ran out winners 27-21 so there was a focus as new Army Skipper Captain Jamie Miller Army Air Corps lead his team on to the field as the temperature plummeted. The now traditional University fixtures at the beginning of the season are always entertaining and this one was full of attack and counter attack; both sides keen to impress their new coaches. Some excellent trys before half time with some genuine pace out on the wings; trys from Gunner Vulikijapani (RA) and Craftsman Bainivalumailedanoni (REME) had the REDs head for the comfort of the warmth of the changing rooms 10 – 5 at half time.
The second half continued with the same pace and commitment from both sides. The benches got to stretch their legs but further trys from Gunner Visei (RA) and Corporal Parkins (RLC) increased the lead to 22 – 5 before the Dark Blues mounted a spirited last 10 minutes seeing them cross for one further score.
The REDS A team now face Cambridge University on Wed 6 Feb 19 at Grange Road and the Senior XV face the French Army in ‘Le Crunch’ at Aldershot on Fri 8 Feb 19, kick off 1900hrs.