The British Army - World Champions
31 October, 2011
Article courtesy of Colonel Andrew A Allen.
|FRU President with the victorious British Army Fijian players - Back row L-R: LBdr Ifereimi Boladau Royal Artillery (promoted just before the match!), FRU Finance Director Napolioni Batimala, FRU President Ratu Sikeli Tasere, LCpl Josefa Kava Royal Logistic Corps, FRU Director Legal Joeli Baledrokadroka, Spr Inosi ‘Knoxy’ Laqekoro Royal Engineers, LCpl Peceli Nacamavuto Royal Engineers; Front row L-R: LBdr Sam Speight Royal Artillery, Pte Jack Prasad Royal Scots (Fiji International), |
LCpl Malakai Magnus Royal Logistic Corps, Spr Gus Qasevakatini Royal Engineers
The British Army XV rugby team, playing with some 7 Fijian soldiers, restored a degree of British (and Fijian) pride when they won the inaugural Defence Forces World Cup in Auckland New Zealand, overcoming the Australian Defence Forces 62—17. The match was made even more special by the watching eyes of FRU President Ratu Sikeli Tasere, FRU Director Legal Joeli Baledrokadroka and the FRU Finance Director Napolioni Batimala, all in NZ for the Rugby World Cup and guests of the British Army for the International Defence Rugby Competition final.
The group rounds of IDRC for twelve countries had been played in Sydney Australia with the Semis and Final scheduled for Auckland in the shade of the Rugby World Cup. The Army had stuttered in the semi-final before overcoming a pretty testing Tonga team 15 –10.
In the Final ‘they exploded’ in a superb first half that saw the Reds score six tries for a 42 pts-7 lead. Head Coach, Captain Andy Sanger, who has been on the Army scene for quarter of a century, said “I have never seen such a complete display of skill and determination from an Army team. The players and managerial staff have made huge sacrifices simply to be here, and I would publically like to thank them”.
Prop Chris Budgen (Exeter Chiefs), a local lad from ‘down the road’ Hamilton had an outstanding match as did Peceli Nacamavuto (center) who notched two tries. Bola Boladau (No 6) had a fantastic tournament, crowned by a thundering try in the final – at only 24 this soldier has ‘international’ stamped all over him.
Jack Prasad had a lively game at fly half, whilst Gerhard Wessels, who was still in Afghanistan when the plane landed in Sydney back in September, provided balance at first five eighth!
Former Scotland 7s skipper Mark Lee on the open-side created mayhem at his explosive best, carving great holes in the Aussie defences, and was declared ‘Player of the Final’. A second accolade went to full back Ceri Cummings (No 15) who was awarded ‘Player of the Tournament’ for his consistent willingness to transform defence into attack.
|Joe Kava (No 8) leads the stampede. |
Andy Sanger beamed when he said “This has been a hard road. We started a long hard march in July, frankly into the unknown, but never lost our focus. The boys picked up the mood of the World Cup and hit the detonator in the Auckland final. Maybe it’s a cliché, but we thought and played as a team to score nine tries and 62 points against a very good Aussie team”.
As for the Fijian contingent, Colonel Andy Allen, Director of Senior British Army Rugby, declared to the FRU President: “Soldiers first, Sportsmen second, all these Fijian players enjoy consistent and high quality Army Rugby Union and Rugby Football Union coaching, which allows them to keep their natural attacking flair for the game as well as encouraging a ferocious appetite to tackle – the combination is perfect”.
“Soldiers First – Sportsmen Second” the British Army XV – Defence World Champions!