39 Engineer Regiment 6 pts—7 (Para) RHA 16
RMAS 26 pts — 1 Scots Guards 12
Regimental rugby at the top of the tree. Sandhurst in the strong sunlight made a brave backdrop for the 2015 Premiership 2 semi finals. Importantly there were two new teams in the mix. The Engineers from Aberdeen and Gunners from Colchester have long provided high end rugby but it is some years since the Scots Guards boasted a rugby pedigree and it was rewarding to see Sandhurst competing at this level.
In the RE v RA match it was, for extended periods, grunt versus groan as both sides tested the opposition’s inner strengths. Defences were up quickly and the pin point tackling was unremitting. Seldom have the Gunners been accused of hitting the target so frequently, to such telling effect—but this was one of those days.
The Sappers, wisely went for the early assistance of a sharp breeze but frequently missed touch. Allowing Fijian backs the space to run at your defence is seldom wise. Even worse the Para Gunners were too often saved the trouble with Sapper kicks rifling prestigious distances–but out on the full.
Under the leadership of lock Lee Soper, a man of many Army caps in an era when they were hand-stitched and team photographs came in black and white, the Gunners took command of the important situations up front. Quick ball and safe hands resulted in two excellent tries through Phil Armitage and Bunny Turaganivalu.
The Sappers sparked and flashed but were unable to make up for the profligate use of the first half wind. In the fourth quarter Army centre Peceli Nacamavuto attempted to force a passage but was hauled down within smelling distance of the chalk. Tom Best, ‘consistent and reliable’, kicked two penalties.
In the second semi-final RMAS produced a stunning performance to overcome the Scots Guards by five tries to two. The Guards opened with a flourish and a fine try only for the all round quality of ultra-fit cadets and a veteran scrum half to assume control.
It was another very tough encounter, the Sandhurst pack were experienced and dominated the close quarter battles. Scrum half Gareth Slade Jones, a veteran of many Army Navy matches at Twickenham, wandered wisely behind an almost free supply of ball. The tries followed.
RMA Sandhurst against 7 (Para) RHA for the Final on 25 March at Aldershot is a mouth-watering prospect. As importantly, the re-vamped Army Cup proved a Winner for Army rugby which, on the evidence, remains strong and competitive at all levels. In 1993 there were twice as many ‘clubs’ affiliated to the Army Rugby Union but competing in just one competition. More rugby is played today, the breath is wider and the level is higher.