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BRNC see stars - and stripes - in rugby clash

31 March 2016
Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) have taken to the rugby field for a match against their counterparts across the pond, the United States Naval Academy (UNSA).

The fixture, held at the College, was the return leg of BRNC’s successful tour to Annapolis a year earlier and the Americans were out to avenge the close defeat inflicted on them by Petty Officer Physical Training Instructor (POPTI) “Fido” Fidock’s Navy Cup winning side. 

A year is a long time in a training establishment and this year’s home game saw a whole new set of fresh faced Officer Cadets, including 3/O Crees of the Royal Fleet Auxillary, step up to represent BRNC.

The game itself proved to be a dynamic affair with Annapolis’ heavier squad bringing the physical element to the forefront.  Come scrum time the comparatively “lightweight” Dartmouth pack had to apply all of their skill and guile to counter the American shove, providing an entertaining battle for those on the side lines.  Officer Cadets (OC) Josh Ellis, Tom Hughes and Teddy Bradley, appeared to relish the challenge putting up a strong fight up front.

The experience of Britannia’s squad was soon thrust in the face of the opposition when a fast counter-attack and subsequent penalty resulted in BRNC crossing the whitewash first. However, indiscipline possibly due to fatigue after dealing with the physical onslaught at the breakdown gave several kickable penalties to the UNSA’s talented place kicker. 

For many of us it’s been a great experience playing Annapolis, most of the boys have told me that it’s the most fun they’ve had playing for a long time.

BRNC RFC Captain OC “Tug” Wilson

The constant exchanges were to continue for the remainder of the first half, with Annapolis battering their way up the field using their impressive pack but failing to capitalise when pushing the ball wide. 

Dartmouth would collect spilt balls and wile their way back into the opposition 22 before mistakes were made in the rush for line, OC Rob Wigley even spilling the ball just inches from a certain try. 

The Americans managed to draw in Dartmouth’s defence in a series of well thought out moves before using their power to put one in the corner just before half time, and taking the lead with them into the second half.

After the break both sides hit the accelerator and hit it hard, the pace increasing with each minute of play. OC Tristian Trehan caused plenty of problems at the breakdown, allowing Dartmouth to exercise their well drilled line-out in a series of drives up field. This eventually led to Britannia driving over a rolling maul from five metres out. 

Quickly replied by an outstanding piece of running by the US centres to outpace the defence and dot one down, a missed conversion kept Dartmouth in touch and the final plays of the game produced a thrilling display driven by Dartmouth’s determination to keep the ball alive and penetrate the now tiring but courageous Annapolis defensive line.  

Clearance kick after clearance kick was sent into the air but each time Dartmouth kept attacking, spending much of the last play defending a scrum on their own line.

Alas POPTI Fidock’s men couldn’t quite make it stick into overtime and the final whistle blew with the American’s ahead. Final score BRNC Dartmouth 15 – 20  US Naval Academy.  

BRNC RFC Captain OC “Tug” Wilson told the assembled player and supporters:  “For many of us it’s been a great experience playing Annapolis, most of the boys have told me that it’s the most fun they’ve had playing for a long time.”

Outside of their scheduled match the USNA Squad spent time being hosted in Dartmouth by the Ships Company and Officer Cadets, sampling the delights of Devon and taking in the local history. 

BRNC RFC look forward to keeping this particular facet of the “special relationship” alive and well, and wish the US Naval Academy all the best for the future, and hope to play them soon again in Annapolis.  

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