Skip to main content

Following the challenges of facing the Light and Dark Blues over the past month, Head Coach, Lt Col Tim Osman, was understandably delighted with the way the Army Senior Men shrugged off those disappointments to put in a strong performance to see off the French Army in Aldershot.

The Army got off to the best possible start, LBdr Nick Murray (RA) marking his first senior cap by finishing off a superb try with fewer than 90 seconds on the clock.

With LBdr Murray’s fellow forwards, Cpl Ifereimi Boladau (R Sigs) and Gnr Senitiki Nayalo (RHA), following him over the whitewash and Bdr Owain Davies (RA) adding three conversions and a penalty, the Army opened up a 24-0 lead at the break.

However, despite playing some more entertaining rugby in the second half and coming close on a number of occasions, it took until the final play of the match for the red shirts to add to their tally, Spr Jack Johnson (RE) bringing the full-time whistle with his last gasp penalty.

In between the French steadily came back into the match and were rewarded by a pair of tries, but they were kept at arm’s length and there were understandably plenty of smiles in the home camp after the trophy had been lifted.

“I enjoyed it, it was a good night,” Lt Col Osman commented. “The boys have worked really hard from Sunday and we’ve pared back a few things, added a few plays and patterns, and the boys adapted to that and delivered really well, especially in the first half. I was impressed.

“There was no chance in the players not being up for the game. One, it’s an Army cap. Two, we knew we were under the pump a little bit after underperforming a little bit. And three, it’s against the French Army!”

Lt Col Osman said that an excellent start was always going to be essential against a physical French outfit, who combined sheer force with reminders of the running and tactical nous throughout rugby on the other side of the channel.

But the Head Coach was also impressed by the way the red shirts kept their cool in the heat of the moment.

“We came out of the blocks and it was 17-nil and then scored again just before half-time, which was important,” he said. “We knew there would be a response and the French made it difficult for us. The boys dug it out and delivered.

“It was quite confrontational in places, as it can be against a French team. The boys kept their composure pretty well, I thought, and I was proud of the way they dealt with it.

“We’ve worked hard on our discipline, although the penalty count ran away from us a bit in the second half for a number of reasons.”

The turnaround between Iffley Road and the Army Rugby Stadium was stark, in terms of intent and execution, something which Lt Col Osman says required input from the entire squad and staff.

“The boys do their own analysis, we have our own ideas of what we think we need to amend and improve, and we do it together as a collaborative,” he said. “I think it’s Ben Ryan who says that the role of a coach is to make themselves redundant, and I use that mantra. We’re not there yet, but in terms of our game plan, philosophy and management that’s exactly what they need to do.

“This week, noting the weather and pressures that come with this kind of game, you could tell that in the build up in training. The boys followed our process and it paid dividend.”

With a training camp and then the 2023 Mobbs Memorial Match against Bedford Blues both to come before the Inter-Services Championship clash with the RAF in Gloucester on April 15th, Lt Col Osman says that there is still time for further improvement, adding: “We weren’t particularly happy with the second half, but we’d got ourselves far enough in front that it didn’t make any difference, ultimately. But there is work to do.”

Lt Col Osman also highlighted the hard work done by the ground staff at the Army Rugby Stadium during the week, turning the pitch around from the snow and mud of Corps Championship Finals day into a surface which enabled both teams to play with enterprise as much as physicality.

“I came and had a look on Monday morning after our training on Sunday night and was surprisingly pleased about how much green I could see! It was a decent surface and an unbelievable job by the ground staff.”

The Army Senior Men are next in action against Bedford Blues in the 2023 Mobbs Memorial Match at Goldington Road on Thursday, April 6th, KO 1945hrs. Ticket information is via

Tickets for the 2023 Inter-Services Championship are now on sale.

CLICK HERE for information about the Army v RAF at Kingsholm, Gloucester, on Saturday, April 15th.

CLICK HERE for information about Army Navy at Twickenham on Saturday, May 13th.

Words © New Dogs, Old Tricks

Header and featured image – Alligin Photography © Cat Goryn