army v navy 
Saturday 4th May 2024


Inter Service provides investment for community game

The recent Inverdale Challenge (Royal Navy RU) and Community Finals (Army RU) provided timely reminders of both the depth of rugby union within the Services and the importance of the Inter Service Championship of providing funds to be invested in supporting the community game.

The Inverdale Challenge provides a competitive platform at a regional level, exposing players to the next step up from Unit matches and giving representative team management an opportunity to cast their eye over players for selection. As a consequence, regional teams are therefore not permitted to select more than eight capped players.

The 2024 final provided a wealth of entertainment as the Royal Marines held off a Fleet Air Arm comeback to prevail 45-26.

Meanwhile the Community Finals took over the Army Rugby Stadium in Aldershot, with 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh claiming revenge against the Stormers in the Premiership Cup, 17 P&M Regt RLC winning a cracker of a contest against 2 Rifles in the Premiership Shield 34-29, and 11 Sig Regt grinding out a 14-8 victory against the Irish Guards in the Knock-Out Vase.

The Army’s Corps Championships had concluded earlier in March, the Royal Engineers completing a three-peat of League 1 titles thanks to a second-half rally against the Royal Artillery, and the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers – bolstered by players from the Royal Engineers and Royal Signals – overcame the Royal Logistics Corps to win the Women’s Competition.

Indeed, community rugby provides vital sporting and cultural frameworks across the three Services, whose work receives invaluable financial support from the ticket proceeds of the three Inter Service Championship events.

Profits from the matches are shared between the Service Unions, enabling not just community competitions to take place, but also coach development, referee training, and other educational opportunities such as pitchside first aid.

“The Inter Service Championship is the showpiece for Forces rugby, providing our players with the platform to represent themselves, their colleagues in their Unit, Ship or Base, and their Service,” commented Capt Sarah Oakley (RN), Chair of the Inter Service Championship Committee and Vice-Chair of the Royal Navy RU.

“Just as important for all of the Service Unions is the income which the Championship generates to be reinvested into growing and developing the sport. This means that everyone who attends will be contributing towards ensuring that rugby union continues to be the leading team sport within the UK Armed Forces.”

“Having been a referee for many years, and Chair of the Army Rugby Union Referees Society for the past six seasons, I know first-hand how the income from the Inter Service Championship has made a major impact,” added Brig Gary McDade, Vice Chair of the Army RU. “Rugby matches would not happen without referees, and the investment we are able to make into developing our match officials is absolutely vital.”

The Royal Air Force Rugby Union’s Head of Events, Air Cdre Alun Roberts, reiterated the synergies and close connections that rugby union and the UK Armed Forces have had for more than a century.

“Rugby union’s values are really similar to those of the military, and this is why the sport has been embraced by the Armed Forces over many years,” he said. “The Inter Service Championship resonates not just because we are supporting our colleagues and friends in their matches, but also because we are creating a virtuous circle of supporting grassroots rugby, along with a network of referees, coaches and support staff.”

By attending an Inter Service Championship match you can have a positive effect on rugby union in the Armed Forces. Tickets remain available for all three events!

 Royal Navy v RAF | Sat 20/04 | 

 Army v Royal Navy | Sat 04/05 |

 RAF v Army | Sat 11/05 |  

Pics: Alligin Photography, Cinnebar Studio

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