Last weekend close to a thousand eager rugby fans stepped into the Sydney sunshine to watch the inaugural match between the men’s Royal Australian Navy Rugby Union (RANRU) and the Manly Marlins.
Manly Marlins ran away with the game at Brookvale Oval, winning 68-5, but the scoreboard only told part of the story. RANRU played strongly and kept the Marlins on their toes. After a period of persistent pressure, RANRU finally wore the Marlin’s defence down. The Navy try was scored by Able Seaman Clearance Diver George Cantarakis of Australian Clearance Diving Team One. Despite the score, it was really servicemen and women who were victorious, as this was far more than a just a rugby fixture.
The brainchild of Mr James Griffin, Manly MP the exhibition match was played in support of Invictus Games and aimed to provide an opportunity for the northern beaches community to make their mark in support of our wounded warriors, and catch a fantastic game of rugby while doing it.
It didn’t disappoint, with Captain Nicholas Stoker, President RANRU echoing the view of many in attendance at the match.
“The game was a wonderful event to showcase the spirit of rugby union and friendship for a great cause - our Invictus Games participants.
“A rich history of Navy Rugby is underpinned by core values including courage and honour in our players and we have great respect for our Invictus Games competitors.
“I hope the match was the start of an enduring relationship between RANRU, Manly Marlins and the northern beaches community,” CAPT Stoker said.
The significance of the event was not lost on the players. Captain of the RANRU team, Able Seaman Clark Chancellor from 725 Squadron was a standout and awarded Most Valuable Player (MVP). He shared his thoughts after the game on what it meant to him, and his team mates to compete in the match.
“It was a great feeling to support the Invictus Games and what it stands for.
“To see such a club as the Manly Marlins come to the table in support also really shows that the Australian community is proud to support our veterans.
“The result certainly didn’t go our way, but it was a fantastic opportunity to develop rugby within Navy and I know every player on the team really enjoyed the day; we are extremely appreciative of Manly hosting the event,” AB Chancellor said.
All RANRU events can be followed on the NAVY Rugby Union Facebook page.