Navy rugby surging ahead in 2014

Published on LCDR Dixie Lee (author), LEUT Amanda Folks (author), WO Doug Edwards (author), LS Danielle Worthey (photographer), AB Leigh Gough (photographer)

Topic(s): Rugby Union

The ACT Veterans and Navy Old Salts rugby sides face off in their annual match at Canberra Stadium. Tough defence and attacking rugby with a spirit of mateship characterised the match with both sides resurrecting their former talents. (photo: Unknown)
The ACT Veterans and Navy Old Salts rugby sides face off in their annual match at Canberra Stadium. Tough defence and attacking rugby with a spirit of mateship characterised the match with both sides resurrecting their former talents.

Royal Australian Navy Rugby Union (RANRU) has ‘kicked-off’ its 2014 rugby campaign with a number of pre-season trials and development opportunities across prospective senior men’s and women’s squads.

Queanbeyan Sevens

In February, a Navy senior Men’s squad and senior Women’s squad participated in the annual Queanbeyan Sevens rugby competition, which attracted sides from across New South Wales and Victoria.

With temperatures soaring above 30 degrees, the teams demonstrated great flare and talent amidst strong opposition, providing some entertaining men’s and women’s rugby and an opportunity for RANRU coaching staff to identify prospective representative players.

Players this season are initially vying for positions for the forthcoming Australian Services Rugby Championships in Sydney (Daceyville), to be held from the 18-24 May this year. RANRU is searching for any new talent beyond its solid player base.

The Navy Women's Squad warms up before the Queanbeyan Sevens - Able Seaman (AB) Carissa Thompson tackles Leading Seaman Kerryn Seaborn as AB Rachel Maher and Lieutenant Commander Nev Cook watch on.

The Navy Women's Squad warms up before the Queanbeyan Sevens - Able Seaman (AB) Carissa Thompson tackles Leading Seaman Kerryn Seaborn as AB Rachel Maher and Lieutenant Commander Nev Cook watch on.

Notably, eleven members from the Navy women’s squad, led by Petty Officer Bethanie Keefe, showed great skills and gritty determination to advance to the Queanbeyan Sevens ‘bowl’ final. Although leading at half time, the team were outplayed in the dying moments of the game by their opponents, Southern Inland.

Outstanding performances by newcomers Seaman Melissa Sirrett (HMAS Success) and Able Seaman Brooke Rudezky (HMAS Kuttabul), and a dazzling display of footwork and speed by Leading Seaman Physical Trainer Kerryn Seaborn, hinted at exciting times ahead for RANRU Women’s Rugby in 2014 and beyond.

“It is great to see so many new girls coming through the ranks for Navy Women's Rugby. It really shows how we are continuing to develop and advance our players to create depth in our team,” said Navy 7s Women’s Captain, Petty Officer Beth Keefe.

“We are always looking to recruit new players with or without experience, so any girls interested should source there local representative,” she said.

RANRU Vice President, Captain Nick Stoker said participation in the Queanbeyan Sevens provided one of a number of opportunities to introduce potential future male and female representative players to the game and progress development for the 2014 season.

“RANRU has its sights firmly set on the Australian Services Rugby Championship title this year in both the men’s and women’s competition. The commitment by all players early in to the season reflects a great deal of new talent and experience in our ranks,” Captain Stoker said.

Members of the Queanbeyan Sevens Navy Women’s squad. Back row, from left: Able Seaman (AB) Britanney Young, AB Kendall Bourke, Lieutenant Amy Brauns. Front Row (Left to right): AB Rachael Maher, Seaman (SMN) Melissa Sirrett, SMN Katrine Harris, AB Carissa Thompson, AB Vika Pinomi and AB Brooke Rudezky.

Members of the Queanbeyan Sevens Navy Women’s squad. Back row, from left: Able Seaman (AB) Britanney Young, AB Kendall Bourke, Lieutenant Amy Brauns. Front row, from left: AB Rachael Maher, Seaman (SMN) Melissa Sirrett, SMN Katrine Harris, AB Carissa Thompson, AB Vika Pinomi and AB Brooke Rudezky.

Kapooka Tens

A men’s squad participated in the annual Kapooka 10s rugby tournament on 15 March, with had strong representation from RAAF School of Technical Training Navy Aviation Trainees, Sydney based commands and ADFA.

This year was the 20th anniversary of the competition of which Navy was one of the original unions. A very successful day was had with Navy drawing with eventual cup winners, Army, following a number of close games.

“It was a great competition, played in the right spirit. I'm very proud of the commitment of the Navy players, which set a solid foundation for RANRU 2014 season,” said LCDR Dixie Lee, RANRU Senior Men’s Manager.

Navy Senior Men’s squad at the Kapooka 10s rugby tournament.

Navy Senior Men’s squad at the Kapooka 10s rugby tournament.

Old Salts at the Super Rugby

Navy Rugby was also at the centre of charity and fundraising in late February, when the RANRU ‘Old Salts’ (over 35s) went head to head with the ACT Veterans in the annual charity rugby match at Canberra Stadium. The match was the curtain raiser to the Super Rugby ACT Brumbies v Queensland Reds fixture.

Head of Navy Capability, Rear Admiral Mark Campbell, represented Chief of Navy at the game to demonstrate Navy’s support for Legacy and the George Gregan Foundation.  He later participated in the presentation of a sizeable and gratefully received donation to each organisation by both teams.

Twenty-one current and former serving Navy rugby veterans took to the field in the true spirit of ‘the game they play in heaven’, with running rugby aplenty. Fine ball skills and solid defence were on display, proving the ‘Remaining XV’ still had it in them. At the end of 60 minutes, the score was locked at 9-9. Current and former serving members from across the ages ventured from far and wide to be part of the game. They came from Cairns, Brisbane, Sydney, Wagga, and Nowra to join some Canberra locals, demonstrating their commitment to the game and the RANRU culture of teamwork and mateship.

“It was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends, and relive a few past glories,” said CMDR Michael Letts, a regular member of the Navy Old Salts team.

The ACT Veterans and Navy Old Salts rugby sides before the annual clash at Canberra Stadium with Rear Admiral Mark Campbell, RAN, Head of Navy Capability (front).

The ACT Veterans and Navy Old Salts rugby sides before the annual clash at Canberra Stadium with Rear Admiral Mark Campbell, RAN, Head of Navy Capability (front).

Looking ahead

The forthcoming Australian Services Rugby Championship will include men’s, women’s and veteran’s (Old Salts) competitions, and for the first time a RANRU Women’s senior team will compete in the 15-a-side format, playing both RAAF and Army. It will be a carnival not to be missed.

Any men or women wishing to compete for national selection can contact Warrant Officer Dave Carter (Senior Men’s Coach), Lieutenant Commander Dixie Lee (Senior Men’s Manager), Lieutenant Amanda Folks (Senior Women’s Coach), Leading Seaman Dee Worthey, or  for Navy ‘Old Salts’, contact Warrant Officer Doug Edwards. Contact details can be found on the Defence Corporate Directory.