Skip to main content

The Royal Engineers won their first Corps Championship Merit League 1 title since 2015 in a packed day of action in Aldershot.

The Sappers overcame REME in a match which was never anything less than competitive throughout, not least in a first half that REME edged 7-5.

The Engineers had barely touched the ball by the time they found themselves a converted try down, as REME followed up a missed long-range penalty with a classic scrum-half try, LCpl Vakalalabure capitalising on space around a ruck.

Prop Cpl Koroyadi replied for RE, but the action stepped up several notches after the break, not least when Spr Cam McDonald took a lovely pass from Spr Johnson to draw the final defender and feed winger LCpl Graham for the try.

Both teams were now playing eye-catching and entertaining rugby, with threats coming across the field.

Cpl Veikune extended the RE lead before REME had a try ruled out when Cfn Radianrova’s final pass was judged to have been forward. It was a shame for the full back, whose fantastic run had brought his team’s supporters to life, but when the 13-point lead was extended by a further three points by Spr Johnson it made Cfn Moku’s try just a consolation, even if it was a spectacular way to end the scoring, the winger burning off the first line of defence before receiving a fortunate bounce to finish a 70-metre effort

“We identified in the first half that our penalty count was really letting us down,” said RE captain, Capt Butler. “We decided to play into the wind and the penalty count kept us in our own half, but we knew that we’d have the wind in the second half and spoke about it at half-time. We then played the clinical and composed rugby we’ve played this season.”

Final score: RE 23-12 REME

The League 2 Final was the last match of the day and it proved to be a fitting way to bring the curtain down, with the Royal Armoured Corps and Infantry playing out the most gloriously bonkers 80 minutes of rugby that many in the stands could remember.

The focus of attention was grabbed by Tpr Tamani, whose sheer size drew the play to him like an outsized magnet, and regardless whether it was good – three second-half tries keeping the RAC in the contest – or bad – a first half yellow card followed by a stiff talking-to following an off-the-ball charge in the second – there was no denying the second rower’s impact on the contest.

The scene was set inside the first minute, Tpr Koroi scything around the outside and dotting down between the sticks. The lead was extended with a close-range crash-over, but Tpr Tamani’s sin binning sparked the Infantry into life, as first Pte Qalomaiwasa and then Ranger Ratubalavu crossed.

The moment of the first 40 minutes came on the half hour. Pte Ravuvu broke through and powered to the line. He was pulled short, and the RAC held out not just him, but then also LCpl Ratukadreu over the line before stripping the ball clear to race to the 22 and win a penalty.

Still the Infantry kept coming, rewarded by Pte Qalomaiwasa getting his second of the day to make the half-time score 19-14 in favour of the team in black.

If the moment of the first half had been defensive, the second half’s magic moment came just six mins after the restart, LCpl Nayagi powering through a couple of tackles before turning on the pace to score a sensational 50-metre individual try.

The RAC were now needing tries, which they got through Tpr Tamani, although these sandwiched a good opportunist effort from Pte Waqanidrola, the replacement following up a penalty which rebounded off the post.

The clinching score came from LCpl Nayagi, who finished a flowing move in the right corner, although there was still time for Tpr Tamani to have the last word with a superb finish.

“They scored from the kick off and we were behind seven points from the start, but by the time half-time came around we’d scored three tries and were in front, so it was a pretty big turnaround,” commented Infantry captain, Lt Milward.

“We’ve played three games against the RAC this season. We’ve won one, they’ve won one, and this was the third one which we were fortunate enough to win it.

“It was a solid game in which everyone put everything, and those are the games which people want to enjoy.”

Final score: Infantry 36-29 RAC

The League 3 final between the Adjutant General’s Corps and Royal Army Physical Training Corps opened the day on the main pitch, but while both teams had shown their scoring prowess in the league campaign the opening half-hour in Aldershot was much more cagy, the teams scoring a penalty apiece.

RAPTC then began to threaten with nice handling and direct running, rewarded by try for Sgt Muskwe. And while AGC pulled three points back before half time and dominated the third quarter, they were also failing to turn possession and position into points.

RAPTC – who had been the only team to beat the AGC in the league – pulled away in the final 10 minutes. Full back Sgt Smith added a penalty, before squandering a gilt-edged chance by keeping hold of the ball instead of giving a pass to the supporting Sgt Muskwe with only one player to beat.

This mistake did not end up being a game changer. Down to 14 men for a second time in the game, the AGC were forced to play from deep. Unfortunately a pass bounced into touch, RAPTC took a quick throw which caught the defence napping, and replacement Sgt Woods was over untouched to secure his team’s first ever trophy at Corps Championships level.

“It’s been a great season and was a great way to start the day,” commented RAPTC captain, WO2 Brightey. “It was good conditions, the ground was dry and the pitch was nice, and it made for a great game.

“Every year it’s the same in that we want to build, which is hard as we look to pull people in from across the country and across the world. This season we’ve had a lot of development, especially with the front row, so today it was a heavy Apostles side.

“We did well in the scrum, and it was nice to have clean ball to make the most of our pace and fitness.”

Final score: AGC 6-18 RAPTC

Words © New Dogs, Old Tricks.  All images © Alligin Photography, Lee Crabb

Match Gallery

A full image gallery from the day can be viewed HERE

Images are free to download, all you need to do is create an account if you don’t already have one.  Add the images you would like to your cart and follow the check out process.  You will then receive an email with a link to downloard your selected images.

Match Highlights