army v navy 
Saturday 4th May 2024


Match Report | Army 78-5 Royal Navy

The Army’s Senior Women set up a winner-takes-all clash in Gloucester for the 2024 Inter Service Championship with a comprehensive win over the Royal Navy at Twickenham.

The crowd was still buzzing from the final few minutes of the men’s match when the women took to the field for the minute’s applause and national anthem. And the Army fed off this energy to get onto the scoreboard with just a minute on the clock.

Setting their stall out early, the Red Shirts marched forcefully upfield, mixing and matching their play until the defenders ran out and there was no one to stop Lauren Brooks when she cut a lovely line to cross unopposed.

This approach paid dividends after 10 minutes, too, Jade Mullen arcing on a loop run around Lou Dodd to outnumber the Navy rearguard. 

It was the ideal start for the Army. But the Navy had shown in long patches against the Royal Air Force that they had the ability to build pressure themselves, and on the quarter-hour they worked themselves into a promising position after winning a lineout against the throw.

Penalties put the Army onto the back foot, and after some tight driving had edged the Navy to within sight of the whitewash they put the ball through the hands to full back Jasmine Abel, who finished things off.

At 14-5 with 20 minutes on the clock the Navy looked in reasonable shape to build on their Plymouth performance.

But the try inspired the Army to raise their game, and by the time the half-time whistle blew they were out of sight.

Dodd was having an influential afternoon in midfield, turning provider for full back Emily Griffiths with a lovely floated pass. And while the Navy did get back into the Army 22, going a player up in the process thanks to Sophie Benavant’s yellow card, this time they were unable to capitalise.

The Army’s all-court game, when it got going, was irrepressible, no more so than the play which created Anneka Willis’s try just before the half-hour. Mauling from deep initially, when the ball went through the hands there was little the Navy could do to stop the direct running making metres, Willis bursting clear from the 22 for a memorable finish.

There was a trademark finish from Courtney Pursglove, put into the clear by some slick handling through the midfield. Left winger Hannah Gilmour rounded off an excellent few minutes after Rhian Newton’s clearing box kick had given Mullen space to play.

Six minutes into the second half and the Army were over again, Amy Carr on the end of a neat offload from loosehead prop, Sarah Batley. To this point the tries had been created by unselfish team play. Charlie Morgan’s, meanwhile, was all about scrum-half space spotting, plus an outrageous dummy which wrongfooted the last defender.

But after that it was back to the collective approach. Morgan put Brooks through the middle, Mullen in support when a desperate last tackle brought the flanker down just short.

Then Mullen and Dodd combined after a driving maul to put Pursglove over for her second from close range. And Jess McAuley was on hand to finish a smart backs move from a scrum.

To their credit the Navy did keep on trying to play, hooker Olivia Critchley-Peddle driving her way to the five-metre line. But the second half had long become a procession for the Army, with McAuley rounding things off in the final play of the game.

The Army now has a winner-take-all clash with the Royal Air Force at Kingsholm Stadium, Gloucester, on Saturday, May 11. Tickets are available at

All articles