The Navy men’s and women’s rugby union teams left nothing to chance in their bid to break Army’s unbeaten run at the Australian Defence Force Rugby Union Championships at Ballymore Stadium in Brisbane recently.
Although they came up short, their performance, particularly in the women’s game, showed they should never be underestimated.
Both Navy teams made short work of the Air Force men, 31-14, and Air Force Barbarians (a combined Air Force and Army women’s team), 48-0, on April 30.
They faced their biggest challenge against Army and both teams were determined to throw everything at the reigning champions.
In front of a record crowd, the women gave Army a wake-up call in the first half, as they held majority territory.
Army withstood the charge to go to the break with a narrow 7-5 lead, and in the second half, stretched its lead to close out the game with a 26-5 victory.
Women’s head coach Lieutenant Commander Amanda Folkes, said the Navy women had an exceptional game against a strong Army outfit.
“Their belief and trust in one another was evident throughout the entire game,” she said.
“In order to combat the close half-time score, Army brought two capped Wallaroos [Australian national side] on to turn the momentum of the game.
“Every year, the [Navy women] prove to be fitter, stronger and smarter – a testament to their dedication to one another and the sport.”
Navy’s single try was scored by lock Able Seaman Communication and Information Systems Christine Fine, of HMAS Success.
Navy’s best players were flanker Able Seaman Marine Technician Tika Yeend, of HMAS Choules, and Able Seaman Boatswains Mate Esha Nona, of HMAS Stuart.
Able Seaman Nona said fitness started to tell on the Navy women in the second half.
“We still put some good plays together throughout the match and are proud of our efforts at the championships,” she said.
“The gap between Navy and Army is closing every year.”
In the men’s game against Army, Navy played with its usual passion and grit but went down, 43-7, to a fitter and more skilled team.
Representing their service, and revelling in the camaraderie and a week of playing rugby were the highlights for the players.
Nine women and six men were included in the national squad at the end of the championships.
Australian Defence Force and Navy men’s captain Lieutenant Joshua Friend, said there was a fierce but friendly rivalry between the three services.
“But the players are looking forward to joining the Australian Defence Force Rugby Union team, where we will be teammates and not opposition,” he said.
“The representative duties, interstate and abroad, that go along with selection are goals all of us strive for,” Lieutenant Friend said.
Australian Defence Force Rugby Union squad selections:
Women: LSMT Brittany Abel, LSBM Jasmine Butler, LSPTI Amy Carpenter, ABCSO(U) Mahalia Ellis, ABCIS Christine Fine, ABBM Esha Nona, LEUT Eve Parker, LSCIS Danica Sinclair, ABMT Tika Yeend.
Men: LSATA Alex Wilson, LSET Brad Thomas, ABCSO(U) Jake Macpherson, LEUT Joshua Friend, ABMT Niel McMillan, ABCSO(U) Suamili Nanai.