We should be at Twickenham, and we’re ready to prove it! – The Navy Women’s Rugby team are ready for Inter-Service action
It’s Inter-Services time again, one of my favourite periods in the rugby calendar and as I can’t get along to any of the games in person this year I decided I was long overdue in giving them some publicity. I caught up with some members of the Royal Navy women’s team ahead of them taking on the RAF in Ealing this weekend.
It’s clear from the off that there’s a lot of excitement about the game. “I’m really excited” scrum half Olivia Critchley-Peddle exclaims. “It’s been three years since we’ve played this fixture, so nobody knows what to expect!”
The score line three years ago favoured the RAF but there’s a distinct change to this year’s tournament as winger Abi Ashby explains “For the first time in a few years it’s almost a level playing field. The Army and RAF have lost their international players to the Six Nations so for the first time the Navy will be able to step up and show what we can do against a similar opposition.”
“We’re looking to go out there and put in a real shift. Everyone in the team knows we can do that!” Adds Rose Dixon. Rose, who may be a familiar name to Wasps fans and now plays for Chobham is captaining the side on Saturday, adding to an already impressive year that has seen her earn her first UKAF cap in a game where she excelled when coming off the bench and injecting energy into the team.
After playing the game on a Friday night at The Stoop last time, with the women’s match kicking off early as many fans were still travelling after work, this year sees the women given a lunchtime kick-off on what should be a sunny day at Ealing Trailfinders’ Vallis Way ground.
Once they’ve seen off the RAF the Navy will turn their attentions a little way south to Twickenham as they gear up to face the Army on a day that’s always equal parts a celebration of rugby an acknowledgement of our armed forces and the best party in town! The ladies I spoke to were all hugely excited to have the opportunity to run out on that pitch!
Abi Sondack, who will be lining up in the second row when she pulls on the blue shirt, remembers previous years playing just down the road at Kneller Hall. “It was enough for me that Twickenham was the backdrop to where we were playing. To have the opportunity to play in that stadium… I have goosebumps!”
“I originally saw it as an opportunity to showcase us… but now I see it as something we deserve!” Dixon adds, making it clear that for all the excitement the Navy Women’s team have over their game against the Army at the end of the month there’s also a growing comfort among them that they are more than worthy to run out at the home of rugby. “We should be there and we’re ready to prove that!”
“It’s not just Navy Rugby, it’s women’s rugby in general” front row Becca Addis points out. “I’ve been playing for 10 years. This is a huge statement for women’s rugby, showing we deserve to be there on the same day, on the same pitch… being given the same treatment.”
The team are now playing their games amidst the whirlwind of the Women’s Six Nations which adds an extra spotlight to proceedings and for those women’s rugby fans not heading along to a game in person there will be plenty of time to stream the Navy v RAF game via BFBS’ YouTube page and then tune in to watch the Red Roses take on Wales too!