The Royal Australian Navy Rugby Union (RANRU) organisation has achieved terrific success at the 2014 Australian Services Rugby Championships, which concluded in Sydney on the weekend.
Vice President of RANRU, Captain Nick Stoker, described the event as a great outcome for Navy.
"Navy are the men’s Australian Services Rugby Champions for 2014, having beaten both Air Force and Army.
"All members approached the tasked professionally and with great pride in representing Navy.
“The results speak for themselves," Captain Stoker said.
Following a highly competitive period of selection trials, the championships program commenced with a week-long camp where the men's and women's squads prepared as 'one union'.
Commodore Liz Rushbrook, President of RANRU was proud of the great efforts and results of the squads.
"The players' attitudes, commitment, drive and enthusiasm to win were evident throughout,” she said.
Navy’s Australian Services Rugby Championships campaign kicked off on Wednesday, 21 May, when both the men and women dominated their Royal Australian Air Force rivals. Next up was traditionally tough clashes against Army on Saturday 24 May.
The Women were victorious at 26-5 against Air Force in their first game, but lost their second to an Army team made up of numerous national players.
"The Navy women earned great respect due to their performance and potential, reinforcing RANRU's strategy for developing both men's and women's rugby across Navy and the Services," Captain Stoker said.
The Navy Men secured a 'thumping’ 55-12 win against Air Force in their first game, then continued their winning ways with a 31-28 'down-to-the-wire' defeat of Army in the final match.
At halftime Navy were down 16-5, when RANRU Coach Warrant Officer Dave Carter reminded the team to be patient and have belief in their game plan.
The score changed four times in the last 12 minutes, with the winning try scored in the final seconds by Navy’s Captain, Petty Officer Jason Harrington.
Manager of the RANRU Men's team, Lieutenant Commander Dixie Lee, believed that Navy went in with a quiet confidence that they could win, if they exhibited strong team work.
"The backs defended well against sustained pressure, and the winning try was scored by our bigger forward pack playing to the coach’s game plan," Lieutenant Commander Lee said.
Opening the final day’s fixtures was the traditional Navy ‘Old Salts’ versus Army ‘Leopards’ clash (over 35’s), which produced some highly entertaining rugby, including a solid performance by Chief of the Defence Force, General David Hurley.
In true Veterans Rugby style, the game was determined to be a draw, despite being a well balanced, high scoring match.
Following the championships, the Australian Services Rugby Union announced the selection of the combined Australian Defence Force teams to play in upcoming State and National fixtures.
Navy players were selected for 13 of 26 positions in the ASRU Men's squad, and nine of 26 positions for the Women's squad.
Player of the Series, Leading Seaman James Smith, was also selected to be part of the ASRU Men's squad, but had previously been selected to play for NSW Country.
An RANRU function on the last night of the championships was attended by the players, sponsors and management, with the special guest being former Wallaby star Tony Dempsey, founder of the Rugby Union Player's Association.
Mr Dempsey presented the newly capped players with their gold ties and pins.
Next up for RANRU is the traditional unit level command challenge, the 'Mons Cup', followed in September by the Commonwealth Navies Rugby Championships to be hosted in Auckland by the Royal New Zealand Navy.
Founded in 1912, RANRU has over 100 years of history and maintains its standing as a 'premier sport' in RAN.