Saturday 12th March 2016
WORCESTER WARRIORS SIXWAYS STADIUM
The Army Masters continue their preparation for the Inter Service games. There has been some turbulence to the squad but momentum is being maintained and the key small investments in game plan, approach and training methods are baring fruit.
It was an easy decision to make, play a R4H side. It allowed us to prepare the team against a befitting opposition, raise the profile of Army Masters Rugby and our mantra as ‘Competitive Ambassadors’ and help a military charity widen its reach and appeal. A great day, a great game and a very nice memory to have for those who took the field.
The daffodils are out and spring has nearly sprung, and what better way to round of a few days squad training at St Athan in Wales then a hard competitive game against a Rugby Aid XV that had a dash of celebrities and a couple of ex -Army lads mixed with a spine of a team of seasoned Ex professional rugby players. The fixture was played next to the impressive Sixways stadium in Worcester.
Rugby for Heroes mission is to work with the rugby community to raise funds and awareness for military personnel who are making the transition into civilian life at the end of service.
Under a cloudless blue sky right from the kick -off the Army Masters got stuck into the opposition with some crunching first up tackles and Henry Paul, ex Gloucester and Rugby League convert, felt the blast of some strong tackling and was left feeling his ribs after only a couple of minutes play. If the ex-professionals thought this was going to be an easy afternoon of charity rugby then that myth was soon shattered and put to bed. Despite the early pressure from the Masters it was the Rugby Aid XV who scored first, a storming run by ex-Army and Gloucester player Apo Satala allowed Jonny Goodridge, ex Gloucester back, to ghost over the line to score in the corner, not for the first time was he to cause havoc to the Masters defence.
Big tackles were aplenty and the sizeable crowd were now enjoying some good rugby from both sides, but again it was that little bit of professional experience which enabled Junior Paramore the time and space to crash over for a score as Rugby Aid cut free with some champagne rugby. 15-0 and there was a period that it looked like the Rugby Aid XV were going to go for a cricket score, however the Masters tightened their belts and finished the first half strongly which was rewarded when the Masters man of the match WO2 Steve Limbrick went over for a try under the posts with SSgt Rob Smart kicking the conversion for a half time score of 15-7.
The coaching staff rang the changes with fresh players eager to stake a claim for the up and coming Inter services competition. The changes however backfired slightly and the Rugby Aid side were able to stroll in for a couple of easy tries with the Masters defence lacking some cohesion 27-7, strong words and some organisation was required to steady the ship. WO2 Brad Sutherland a half time replacement at full back gave the Masters some go forward from a kick return, and the Army team were now playing some good phases of rugby, but the pros were up to the task, never committing too many players to the break down and keeping the Masters pack honest at the line out and scrum. There was plenty of hard work from WO2 Eastley and WO2 Windle in the front row at the set piece. The Master’s edged slowly up the field and after some good ball retention and many phases scored in the corner with Cpl George Naigunugunu going over for a well eared Masters try. Smart kicked a difficult kick from out wide to bring some respectability to the score line 27-14.
Sadly, a yellow card for the Masters in the last ten minutes of the game robbed them really of any chance of improving on that score line and the game finished 27-14. While the score line means the Army Masters have been beaten for the first time this season the coaching staff will be pleased to have seen a lot of players put in a good shift against some top ex professional players from both codes and around the world. For the Army Masters players it was for many a once in a life time opportunity to grace the field of play with some rugby superstars.
One last game for the Army Masters against a Richmond Heavies side and then it’s the serious business of aiming to win back the Inter services championship in April.
We would like to thank R4H, Worcester Wanderers and Worcester Warriors for a great day and their generous hospitality.