April 30, 2009
The BABCOCK Inter Services championship climaxes with a titanic Army v Navy match at Twickenham on Saturday, May 2 (3pm) in front of a record crowd of more than 54,000.
The Army overcame the RAF 62-11 at Aldershot on April 15 with a relatively new-look side while the Navy also beat the Light Blues 34-20 at Newbury.
The Senior Service have moved away from the days of their juggernaut pack and field a balanced squad with England Sevens stars Josh Drauniniu (Exeter Chiefs) and Greg Barden (Bristol Rugby) providing the cutting edge.
Scrum half Dave Pascoe retains the skipper's berth whilst lock Marsh Cormack (Exeter Chiefs), will generate the heat in the boiler room.
The Royal Navy are determined to prove they have the appetite for another mean scrap and Director of Rugby Lt Cdr Geraint Ashton-Jones said: "We have a new group of players who have come together as a strong team. We have beaten the French Navy and the Irish Defence Forces. We know what we are capable of and how we wish to play the game."
The Army prepared their bid for an eighth successive championship victory at a training camp in South Africa where they beat Stellenbosch University and the Villagers club.
"We may be slight favourites and have several players who have played at representative level, but we are taking nothing for granted" said Army Senior Coach WO2 Andy Price of the Welsh Guards.
"The hard work has been done, the build-up has been physically and mentally intensive. Our aim is to out match the Navy in every phase, including their early battle of attrition, but my intention is, at the right time, to use the whole of Twickenham to play rugby in all the channels."
The Army have Gloucester's Apolosi Satala at blind side and fellow Fijian international Jack Prasad at fly half. Chris Budgen (Exeter Chiefs) wins his 25th Army cap at Twickenham. He provides the fulcrum at tight head prop while Mark Lee at open side, a former captain of Scotland 7s, will lead the team.
The Army v Navy game is a great occasion in the national sporting calendar and while the coaches concentrate the minds of their players, 54,000 vocal partisans will create a fantastic atmosphere.
Many present will only have recently returned from Afghanistan which is just where a number of the Army players are headed in the near future. Coach Andy Price flies to Helmand Province to join the Welsh Guards on Monday, May 4.
The Charity supported by this year's match is Help For Heroes.
A full day of rugby at Twickenham Stadium includes Combined Services U23 v England Students U23 at 12 noon and the finals of the HSBC Rugby Festival. Music will be provided by the Band of HM Royal Marines, Portsmouth and Classical Brit Award Winners Blake.
ROYAL NAVY: Mne Winston Kuva (Cdo Logs RM); Logs(CS) Josh Drauniniu++** (CTCRM), Mne Calum McCrae (CTCRM), AET Lewis Taylor (RNAS Yeovilton), Cpl Greg Barden++** (RM Poole); Mne Rob Lloyd** (42 Cdo RM), POAET Dave Pascoe (captain)** (RNAS Culdrose); NA(AH) Kyle Mason+ (RNAS Yeovilton), NA(AH) Ben Priddey (RNAS Culdrose), AB Marc Roberts (HMS Bulwark), Capt Tom O'Keeffe RM (40 Cdo RM), LAET Marsh Cormack** (RNAS Yeovilton), Maj Matt Parker RM** (RMCS Shrivenham), LPT Andrew Dennis (HMS Nelson), Cpl Gareth Evans (3 Cdo Bde)
Replacements: POAET John Court (RNAS Culdrose), POAET Justin Doney (RNAS Culdrose), AET Sikeli Wise (RNAS Culdrose), AET Gareth Jones (RNAS Yeovilton), POET(WE) Wayne John (HMS Liverpool), AB(Logs) Silivenusi Buinimasi (HMS Cumberland), POET(WE) Dane Smallbone (HMS Liverpool).
ARMY: WO2 Mal Roberts* ** (Royal Logistic Corps); Spr Gus Qasevakatini (Royal Engineers), LCpl Gerhard Wessels (Royal Engineers), Capt Paul Gittins (Army Medical Services), LCpl Malakai Magnus** (Royal Logistic Corps); Pte Jack Prasad+ (The Royal Regiment of Scotland), Capt Ian Martin (The Yorkshire Regiment); LCpl Melvyn Lewis** (Welsh Guards), LCpl Matt Dwyer (Welsh Guards), LCpl Chris Budgen** (The Royal Welsh), Capt Robert Sugden (Coldstream Guards), Sgt Darrell Ball** (Royal Engineers), Pte Apolosi Satala+ ++ ** (The Royal Regiment of Scotland), Capt Mark Lee (Captain)++ * ** (Army Legal Services), Cpl Ben Hughes** (Royal Engineers).
Replacements: Maj Robin Scothern (Adjutant General's Corps), LCpl Warren Ross-Allen (Army Air Corps), LSgt Chris Scarf (Welsh Guards), LCpl Maku Koroiyadi** (Royal Engineers), LCpl Thomas Chennell (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers), Cpl Ceri Cummings (Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers), LCpl Maciu Saulailai (Royal Scots Dragoon Guards).
+Denotes International, ++ Sevens International, *Barbarians, **Combined Services
Tickets are available from Ticketmaster 0844 847 2492 or www.ticketmaster.co.uk or on the day at Twickenham Stadium.