The men's national Royal Australian Navy Rugby Union (RANRU) squad, currently touring France and the UK for the triennial Commonwealth Navies Rugby Cup (CNRC), has witnessed a number of unique milestones with the RAN's involvement this year.
The competition was strong for team selection, with the final touring squad characterised by a solid blend of player and coaching experience, and exciting new talent or 'new caps'. RANRU's squad reflects a unique fabric of players and support staff, which is at the heart of what the CNRC is all about - forging respect and relationships through rugby.
Warrant Officer Dave Carter and Chief Petty Officer Jason Harrington have been involved in every CNRC since 1997, both as representative players and captains, and now as coaches. In 2018 WO Carter is the Head Coach and CPO Harrington an Assistant Coach. In line with other senior players who bring great experience to RANRU's campaign to become Commonwealth Navy champions, these two coaches seek to bring out the best in the new caps - including the youngest player on tour, Midshipman Jonte Heirdsfield from ADFA.
CNRC 2018 has seen another first in RAN rugby history, with father and son pair Lieutenant Commander Linton 'Dixie' Lee and Able Seaman ATA Corey Lee joining the RANRU squad. Dixie is the men's national team manager and Corey is a junior representative player - his first opportunity to represent RANRU and visit Europe.
Lee Senior began playing Navy Rugby in HMAS Leeuwin in 1979. On posting to HMAS Albatross he played for their Dempster Cup team. From there he was selected for RANRU from 1990 to 1994, also achieving Australian Services Rugby Union (ASRU) selection. After hanging up the boots he shifted focus to being Assistant Coach from October 1999 to 2002. During this period he was associated with National's competitions plus two overseas tours, initially to Canada and the US in 1999, and then the first (and so far only) RAN rugby tour of China in 2002. He became RANRU manager for 2004 and 2011-2015, including the role of ASRU manager from 2008-2010. It would be fair to say that he has committed much of his time to supporting RANRU and Services' rugby to the betterment of our people.
Lee Junior joined HMAS Cerberus in 2012. Prior to this, he played junior rugby in Shoalhaven, representing South Coast Public Schools, then Illawarra in under 15-16s, going on to play grade for Shoalies, where he remains today. He has played in all HMAS Albatross' Mons Cup teams since 2014, receiving the best player award in 2015 following an Albatross tournament victory. He has been rewarded for his commitment and skill by being selected as part of this touring squad.