Lt Sally Bellhouse (RAVC) says that the Inter Service Championship win over the Royal Air Force at Kingsholm was built on the momentum that the Army Senior Women built as the match wore on.
The opening minutes were dominated by the RAF, who capitalised on a string of Army mistakes to score a penalty and a try. But once Pte Courtney Pursglove (RLC) scored the first of her two tries the red shirts did not look back, scoring 36 unanswered points in all to claim the 36-8 victory.
Often the focus is on what is being said in the changing room or behind the goal line after conceding a try. But this all-important huddle came on the halfway line as Pte Pursglove was lining up her conversion, according to Lt Bellhouse.
“We wanted to keep the momentum going,” she said. “As a team, throughout the eight years I’ve been playing for them, we always have a five to 10-minute lull as we settle into a game. So once we’d got that momentum going we were saying ‘we’re here, just keep getting better’.
“At no point were we happy with our performance, we wanted to move it up. Even at half-time Huddy was demanding more, and that’s what we kept doing.”
Across the pitch the Army were getting onto the front foot regularly, and for a back rower like Lt Bellhouse it is a massive fillip to see the backs heading over the gain line, too.
“It’s brilliant,” she says, “because it gives you that momentum to come around the corner. It makes your job a lot easier.
“But it also gives you that inspiration to get that go-forward for them to work. People like Lou Dodd and Jade Mullen can step in and run those hard lines, it makes us diverse as a team.”
For Lt Bellhouse the Player of the Match came nearly 12 months after the same accolade at Twickenham, and while honoured, she also praised the contributions of the entire squad.
“I massively didn’t expect the honour of getting Player of the Match. Every player on that pitch put a shift in, and there’s nothing better than winning in a red shirt!”
There is now a four-week gap until the Inter Service Championship resumes at Twickenham against the Royal Navy, with the competition sandwiching King Charles’s coronation on May 6th.
For Lt Bellhouse that is also an occasion to be relished.
“It’s the same for all the Services,” she added, “because you’ve got your day job, you’ve got your rugby, and then you’ve got this huge, once-in-a-lifetime event which hasn’t happened for 70 years.
“It’s a split of attention, but everyone has that, too. It means there is a big occasion after big occasion!”
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Words © New Dogs, Old Tricks
Header and featured images – Alligin Photography © Army v RAF Match