army v navy 
Saturday 4th May 2024


RAF relishing start of Inter Service Championship

The Royal Air Force’s teams are heading to the south-west this weekend relishing the opportunity to prove themselves against the Royal Navy in the opening round of the 2024 Inter Service Championship.

The Navy Mariners take on the RAF Vultures at Devonport Services RFC on Friday evening, with the Senior Women facing their RAF counterparts and the Senior Men beginning their quest to retain the overall title at Brickfields Stadium, Plymouth, on Saturday afternoon.

Having had a challenging opening few matches of their build-up, the Senior Men followed up their narrow loss to the French Air Force with strong performances against Cambridge 1923 and Rams Titans, and Head Coach, Justin Coleman, hopes that the confidence can be taken into their Brickfields clash with the Navy.

“After last year’s mud bath, we are hoping for some better conditions as we return to Brickfields to take on the Navy on their home turf,” he said. “We’ve had a mixed season due to availability, cancelled games and injuries but are starting to build some momentum off the back of two good victories. 

“The Navy have a lot of guys in full time rugby and will be well drilled and physical so we have our work cut out for us, but after last year’s performance down there, we know if things go our way and we turn up with the right mentality we will give them a good battle.”  

Meanwhile the RAF have been the only team to break the Army’s dominance of the Women’s competition, but Head Coach, John Wilding, says that the improving Navy outfit will pose his team problems.

“It is certainly an exciting time of the year and as ever, we cannot wait for the tournament to begin,” he added. “Our season has been disrupted by weather with fixtures and training cancelled due to the water-logged pitches and to our players deploying to the increased Operational tempo. Defeat by the British Police was followed by a cancelled fixture against Lichfield and our final game was a good win against Shelford. 

“Some hard work has been done by all players and staff on all aspects of our game over the season and towards the end of the Shelford game, this finally showed in our performance. With the next game being another trip to Plymouth to face the Navy, we will be working as hard as ever to build upon this. 

“I hope however, that we do not suffer the conditions we did last year in what was easily the worst conditions a game of rugby has been played in my career on a surface that could not cope with the demand placed on it. 

“As for the Navy, I truly believe their Women’s organisation have not get enough credit for the work and improvement that have shown over the past 4 seasons. Their results show this amply and our game last season was a nail biter which could have gone either way. With a new coaching set up, I expect them to build upon this and their increasing showing in the UKAFW teams and thus, make the Women’s game a fitting finale for the first round of the IS24.”

Vultures team manager, Gaz Charnock, says that the team provides invaluable opportunities for players, on and off the pitch.

“Each player and coach involved with the team derives a myriad of benefits from their time with the squad,” he said. “Firstly, there's the sense of belonging and camaraderie forged through shared experiences, victories, and even defeats. Being part of a team fosters deep bonds and lifelong friendships, providing invaluable support both on and off the field. 

“Moreover, participation offers a platform for personal growth and development, cultivating qualities such as resilience, leadership, and teamwork. Furthermore, the coaching staff also gain insights and fulfilment from nurturing new talent, refining playing structures, and witnessing the progression of individual players and the team as a whole.”

Friday night’s game kicks off at 1800hrs, and entry is free for all.

Tickets for Saturday’s double header (Men KO 1300hrs, Women KO 1600hrs) remain available at Entry is £10 for adults, £8 for serving personnel and veterans, and free for Under-16s.

Tickets also remain available for:

Army v Navy at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday, May 4, from

RAF v Army at Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester, on Saturday, May 11, from

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