Army Masters Head Coach, Capt Mark Eastley (RE), has announced three new coaches ahead of the 2023/24 season.
The Army Masters team has had a stellar return to action since rugby came back after the pandemic lockdowns, with a rejuvenated fixture list providing the foundations for back-to-back Inter Service Championship titles in 2022 and 2023.
This season’s campaign begins against the Pacific Islanders on November 11th, with subsequent fixtures against HM Prison Service (December 6th), English Fire Brigade (January 17th) and Torbay Sharks (February 9th).
A clash against Rugby 4 Heroes on April 21st will be the final warm-up before the red shirts take on the Mariners and RAF Vultures in the 2024 Inter Service Championship.
Capt Eastley will be assisted by Maj Jonny Stevens (RE) as Assistant Coach, Sgt Carl Adams (PARA) as Forwards Coach and SSgt Matt Pritchard (RE) as Backs Coach.
Maj Stevens has been coaching since 2006, including with Scotland Women and Glasgow University Women, along with 33 and 39 Engineer Regiments, and he says that “being part of a top coaching set-up within the ARU is a privilege. The opportunity to work as a skills and analysis coach within the Army Masters team will be a hugely rewarding challenge.”
Sgt Adams’s playing experience took in time in the Leicester Tigers Academy, along with Coventry RFC and the Army Development XV as well as captaining the Infantry. Currently Head Coach at Southam RFC and forwards/defence coach with the RLC Women, Sgt Adams also brings referee insight into the coaching group as a National League official as well as being an assistant referee in the Championship. He says “it is an honour to be a part of the Masters set-up. I’m really looking forward to the challenge, to being an ambassador for the ARU and helping the team in retaining the Inter Service trophy.”
SSgt Pritchard has playing and coaching experience in the 15 and 13-a-side codes of rugby, having represented the Royal Engineers in both sports, along with British Army Germany, the Army’s Rugby League team and GB Armed Forces Masters. He has coached with Saffron Walden RFC, the Sappers’ Masters and rugby league teams, along with the Army RL Women and Masters teams. He says that “I am delighted to be offered the opportunity to coach within the ARU and am looking forward to the new challenges it will bring.”
Capt Eastley believes that he has a strong coaching group.
“The Masters has become increasingly competitive and we need a strong group of coaches to ensure that the playing group is as well prepared as possible,” he says. “I was hugely impressed by Jonny, Carl and Matt, who bring a range of experiences into their roles, including from teams at a variety of levels, rugby league and refereeing – which is always useful to help us try to stay on the right side of the law!
“I believe that the players will learn a lot from the coaches, and that the challenges of working with such an experienced group will excite Jonny, Carl and Matt as much as it has done for me.
“We’ve got a strong fixture list and I’m looking forward to the whole playing, coaching and support group progressing and developing over the next few months.”