Skip to main content

A combination of slick attacking play and gritty defence proved a winning combination for the Army Men as they beat their French counterparts 33-22 in Pau.

The Red Shirts made a dream start inside two minutes as a well-weighted pass from fly-half Spr Jack Johnson (RE) created space for Tpr Levi Roper (QDG) to run in from some 35 metres out, the centre stepping smartly inside the initial challenge before showing a fair turn of foot to the line.

Johnson added the extras, but the French cut the deficit with a 40-metre scrum penalty shortly afterwards.

They missed a chance to further trim the deficit when the visitors infringed at the breakdown, but a straightforward chance was hooked left from 25 metres out.

The French Army did, though, cut the gap to one as they forced another penalty after winning a scrum against the head, but they then butchered a glorious chance to hit the front when spilling the ball inches from the line on the right.

The pressure was well and truly on the away side, but some tenacious defence – even when reduced to 14 men as Sgt Matt Dawson (Int Corps) was sin-binned for cumulative team offences near their try-line – restricted their opponents to a third penalty for a 9-7 lead midway through the second quarter.

And having successfully kept France from crossing the whitewash, a moment of magic from Johnson put the Army back ahead, the stand-off’s sublime side-step creating space to run in from the 22.

He successfully converted his own score, and with France again knocking-on when having good field position just before the break, the visitors had a 14-9 half-time advantage.

That, however, was wiped out early in the second period, another scrum penalty kicked by the French before a three-pointer for a misdemeanour at the breakdown edged them in front.

The Red Shirts rallied, though, and in a topsy-turvey encounter regained the lead when Lt Frank Kelly (AGC (SPS)) burrowed over from close range for a try again added to by Johnson.

And the centre doubled his tally at the start of the final quarter, midfield partner Roper making a fine break before sending Kelly away for the score and breathing space.

Johnson’s kick made it 28-15, but the French came again and forced a second sin-binning for the Army, Cpl Sean Beevor (QOGLR LAD) this time the man to go after conceding a penalty near the whitewash.

And the hosts set-up what could have been a titanic finish when awarded a penalty try for a high tackle, only for the Army to regroup and seal the deal as Rfn Vereimi Qorowale (Rifles) scorched down the left for the final and decisive try.

The Army are next in action at Bedford Blues on Thursday, March 28, KO 1945hrs with tickets available directly from Bedford Blues.

Elsewhere over the weekend, LCpl Mikey McDonald started at scrum-half for Germany in their 45-0 fifth/sixth place Rugby Europe Championship play-off defeat to Netherlands, while LCpl Pita Ratukadreu (REME) played the full 80 minutes as Plymouth Albion got back to winning ways in National One, leapfrogging Richmond into fifth with a hard-fought 18-10 home success.

The Londoners took an early lead as Paddy Case went over, Lewis Dennett with the extras, and after Tom Putt touched down for Albion, a ‘Mond penalty made it 10-0 at the interval.

However, Plymouth came on strong in the second half and tries from Angus Hodges and Putt, plus a penalty from the latter, earned them the win.

Words © Richard Ashton

All images – Alligin Photography © Cedric Vlemmings


A full gallery of images from the match is available HERE images are free to download for personal use.  Create an account, use the add to cart function and follow the check out process.


Tickets for the 2024 Inter Service Championship matches are on sale now!

To purchase yours click the links below;

Saturday 4th May | Army v Navy | Twickenham | BUY TICKETS

Saturday 11th May | Army v RAF | Kingsholm | BUY TICKETS