The first Army Navy Match was played in 1878, but it was not until 1907 that a match between the two then existing armed services became an annual event. The 1907 match was played at the Queen’s Club and was won by the Royal Navy (15-14). The First World War (1914-18) brought an end to the fixture, but the Inter-Service Championship resumed after the war and included the newly formed Royal Air Force (RAF), formed in 1918. The Army Navy match was played at Twickenham, the home of the English Rugby Union, in 1920.
However, the clash between the senior teams of the British Army and the Royal Navy remains the highlight of the Championship. The Championship ceased for the duration of the Second World War (1935-45), but recommenced in 1946.
In the 1970s the Championship was opened to sponsorship to defray the costs of the Championship. In recognition of this change a trophy was created for presentation to the Championship winners.
In 2003 the championship was extended to include competitions between women and veteran (over 35 years) teams from the three armed services.
The U23’s Inter Service competition takes place in November each year.
The Army v RAF fixture for 2010 was cancelled. The Army XV were stuck in South Africa, where they were attending their training camp, because volcanic ash from Iceland prevented aircraft from flying over Europe.
In 2020 and 2021 the Inter Service Championship matches were not played due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.