The annual Army Rugby Union Corps Festival took place in Aldershot making the start of the Union Season.
Army Rugby Union Corps Festival
The Sappers fielded several new players during the day which started with a game against their rivals the Royal Artillery on the main stadium pitch. It was a tense opening game but the Sappers edged out their opponents 8-0. The REME followed next with a lone Try settling the game with the Sappers winning 5-0.
Next up were the RLC who provided another good test for the Sappers. It was another low scoring affair but the Engineers scored the only points of the game with a converted Try to take the victory. After the lunch break the Sappers took on the Royal Signals and secured their biggest victory of the day, 43-0 before then defeating the Infantry 7-5 in the final pool game.
The Final saw the Engineers take on the REME. It was a good contest to end the day and the Sappers continued their good form, taking the victory 17-5 to secure the Trophy once again.
Games This Season
Army Corps Festival - W
Aldershot - 12th September 2018
Royal Engineers @ REME - L 26 - 29
10th October 2018
Royal Engineers vs RLC - W 42 - 14
Minley - 7th November 2018
Royal Engineers vs Infantry - W 20 - 3
Minley - 5th December 2018
Royal Engineers @ Signals - L 20 - 26
23rd January 2019
Royal Engineers @ R Artillery - L 5 - 31
Larkhill - 13th February 2019
Army Corps Final Day
Aldershot - 20th March 2019
Corps Festival 2018
Sapperrugby Captain James Dixon receiving the Corps Festival Trophy following a successful day at the office for the team, going undefeated and conceding just 10 points on the day. Congratulations to all involved on and off the pitch and once again a big thank you to our Sponsors Hesco Bastion for their fantastic support.
We look forward now to a good Corps Season which starts with a tough away fixture to the REME at Wootton Bassett Rugby Club on 10th October.
Royal Engineers @ REME
Army Corps League 1 - Game 1
The opening round of the Army Rugby Union Corps Competition got underway on an unseasonably warm October afternoon.
The Royal Engineers travelled to Wootton Bassett RFC to take on the Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers in what has always been a hard fought contest over the years producing many great matches.
This Seasons fixture would prove no different as both sides looked to get their campaign off to the best possible start.
It was the hosts who started brightly , helped by an early penalty which gave them ideal field position to apply pressure on the Sapper defence. Following a line out the REME went patiently through the phases before scoring a nice try taking an early lead 5-0.
The hosts continued to apply pressure and enjoyed a good spell inside the Sapper half. From another attacking line out inside the visitors 22' the REME set up a good driving maul from the tail end of the line out and eventually drove over the Try line for a second score, 12-0.
The Sappers were unable to get any sort of foothold on the game with unforced errors keeping them under pressure allowing the REME to capitalise further. Following a Sapper line out near halfway, an error in the midfield allowed the hosts to pounce on a loose ball and increase their lead with another Try 19-0.
Things went from bad to worse for the Sappers as they were turned over around halfway and forced onto the back foot once more. Two passes later the REME backs were set loose up the sideline and raced over for the score, 26-0.
The visitors were unable to get anything going offensively, barely able to get out of their own half. As halftime approached, the REME slotted through a penalty to give them a 29-0 lead, surely an unassailable lead as the referee blew for half time shortly after.
As the second half got underway there was a notable improvement straight away from the Sappers, clearly the coaching team of Nathan Young and Gerhard Wessells had some choice words to share at the break! An early penalty gave the Sappers their first decent territory of the game, setting up inside the REME 22. After a decent spell they were soon just a few metres out with an attacking line out. After spreading the ball right they created space in the REME defence and soon crossed for their first Try of the game scored by Sam Butler, 29-7.
The hosts responded well following the Try and were soon back inside the Sapper half. As the ball bounced into touch following a cross field kick, Sapper Full Back Steff Wilson took a quick line out and the visitors were soon making strides upfield. A few phases later and Wilson delivered the final pass to set up the Sappers second Try of the game, 29-14.
The Sappers had a spring in their step and were soon on the front foot again, aided by REME penalties and a yellow card, they almost crossed again from a driving line out however the ball was just held up over the line. Following another penalty the Sappers attacked once more and it was Skipper Marcus Mercer who finished off with a third Try, 29-19. The belief was building with just 10 minutes to go and behind by just ten points now.
Shortly after the ensuing kick off, the Sappers broke down the sideline and were threatening once again, looking to score quickly to set up a frantic finish.
The REME worked hard in defence but after enough pressure, the Sappers created the space and showed good hands to get the ball to the wing to cross over for another Try in the corner closing the gap to 29-26.
As the final moments ticked down, the tension was high both on and off the field. The Sappers were on the front foot however poor discipline at a crucial time allowed the REME to gain field position inside the Sapper half and the visitors wouldn't make it back out before the final whistle - the hosts taking the victory 29-26.
It was another great contest between the two sides providing plenty of excitement and drama. The Sappers will be upbeat by their second half performance, showing good heart and determination however they were ultimately let down by a poor first half which left them with too much to do in the second period. The Sappers now look forward to hosting the RLC at Minley on November 7th - come down and support the Sappers if you're in the area!
Reported By J. Fowke
Royal Engineers vs RLC
Army Corps League 1 - Game 2
The second fixture of the new 2018/19 Army Corps League 1 Competition took place at Minley, home of the Royal Engineers RFC as they welcomed the Royal Logistic Corps. With just a few days before Remembrance day, both sides paused along with the spectators for a moments silence before kick off to remember the fallen.
After losing to the REME in the previous round, the Sappers knew they would need to rebound strongly against their opponents - no easy feat however as the reigning champions were looking to gain back to back victories against the Sappers, following on from last years win.
Heavy rain showers and strong winds would make for challenging conditions for both sides as the hosts got the game underway.
The Sappers had an early spell of good territory, rewarded with a Penalty kick from FullBack Steff Wilson, 3-0 to the Sappers in the opening minutes.
The Sappers kept up the good start and almost scored the games first Try through Hooker Jack Rigby who intercepted a pass from inside his own 22. He was caught just inside the RLC 22 after a good run and the visitors escaped.
It wasn't long before the hosts were back inside the RLC half and after a good spell of phases they capitalised with another Penalty through the boost of Wilson, 6-0.
Shortly after, the Sappers finally crossed the Tryline. From halfway, the Sappers set up their attack following a Lineout. Fly Half, Nacavamuto attempted a kick through the defence which took a deflection and bounced up into the grateful arms of Sapper Winger Luwalu who used his speed to race down the touchline and beat the last defender on his way to a Try in the corner, 13-0.
The Sappers seemed to have the better territory as the half went on but the RLC capitalised on errors and poor discipline and were handed a gift just before the break as a stray pass inside the Sapper 22 was picked up by the RLC Fly Half who ran under the posts to close the gap, 13-7 as the referee blew for half time.
The Sappers set about putting that mistake behind them and after an error by the visitors from the opening kick off to start the second half, the Engineers looked to mount an attack from a midfield scrum.
After winning the ball from their scrum on halfway, the Sappers made good ground upfield, with Captain Marcus Mercer carrying well and beating defenders on his way inside the RLC 22. A few phases later the hosts worked the ball back to the left and allowed Luwalu to work his magic with good quickness to beat three defenders to finish off a good score, 18-7.
The Sappers added another Try shortly after, working nicely through the phases again and showing good patience as they drove well into the RLC 22. After some strong carries to get closer to the visitors Tryline, it was the Captain, Mercer, who finished things off with the Try 25-7.
The RLC responded straight away, putting their opponents under pressure from the kick off. The Sappers looked to run the ball out but after failing to secure a ruck deep in their own half the RLC pounced and picked up a loose ball to run in for the converted Try, 25-14.
A Red card for the RLC Fly Half followed shortly by a Penalty, converted by Wilson, seemed to put things out of reach for the visitors as the scoreline stretched to 28-14 with the game entering its final stages. There was still time however for two more Engineer scores, the first a brilliant run through the defence by Wilson from the RLC 10 metre line, racing through the defence on his way for the Try under the posts, 35-14.
The Engineers then finished things off with the final play of the game as Mercer intercepted an RLC pass on half way to run back and cap a good day at the office with a Try under the posts, converted by Wilson, 42-14.
It was a much needed result by the Engineers after a mixed first game in the previous round vs REME and they will look to take this momentum into the final game of 2018 as they host the Infantry on December 5th - if you're in the area please come down and support the Sappers as they look to close out the year with a win.
Royal Engineers vs Infantry
Army Corps League 1 - Game 3
The final game of 2018 saw the Royal Engineers host the Infantry at Minley, with the Sappers looking to build on their momentum from their previous victory over the RLC and go into the New Year with another 'W' and keep themselves in the hunt at making the Corps Final.
The Infantry always provide a stern test for the Engineers with a good mix of physicality and flair. They bought a strong team with them to take on the Sappers and were looking to cause an upset.
Conditions were overcast as the teams took to the field but the threatening skies would soon open up and make life difficult.
Both teams had some early opportunities to test the others defence. The Sappers had the first chance to claim points from a Penalty kick, however the attempt from Full Back Steff Wilson just missed the posts.
The Infantry then came back and were awarded a Penalty themselves from in front of the posts which was converted to give them an early 0-3 lead.
The Sappers responded well and were soon back inside the Infantry 22. They stole the ball following an Infantry Lineout and a swift exchange of passes across the pitch allowed Winger Luwalu to use his pace and finish off the move in the corner to put the Sappers in front, 5-3. A nice conversion on the touchline from Wilson extended the lead to 7-3.
As the rain started to fall more consistently, the Engineers increased the pressure on their opponents with a good spell of territory. Another Penalty opportunity arose and Wilson converted with a good kick from just inside the Infantry half, 10-3.
The Sappers continued to enjoy a good spell of possession but their opponents did a decent job of standing firm in the red zone, creating turnovers and earning penalties to clear their lines. Eventually however the Engineers breached the defensive line. With a lengthy set of phases, the Sappers stretched the Infantry across the pitch closing in on the Try line. After being awarded a Penalty advantage, Sapper Fly Half Peceli Nacavamuto tried a chip through the defence which was chased down by Winger Luwalu for the Try just before half time. Following the conversion, the hosts took a 17-3 lead into the break.
As the second half got underway, conditions worsened for both sides with tricky handling conditions under the heavy rain. The Engineers scored an early penalty through the boot of Wilson to extend their lead to 20-3 which is how the contest would finish. Both sides would find themselves down to 14 players during the second period as the Yellow Card was shown for two high tackles during the half. Despite each side having a man advantage for a short spell, neither were able to add to their tally and a close fought second half drew to a close with the Sappers taking the victory, 20-3.
The conditions made life difficult for both sides in the second half, thankfully for the Engineers they were able to do most of their damage in the first forty minutes to ensure they took the spoils going into the New Year. The Sappers will look to build on their recent success as they look ahead to taking on the Royal Signals after the break.
Sapperrugby would like to wish Royal Engineers and all serving personnel a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year - Enjoy and be safe!
Royal Engineers @ Royal Signals
Army Corps League 1 - Game 4
The opening Army Rugby Union Corps League 1 fixture of 2019 saw the Royal Engineers travel south to Blandford to take on the Royal Signals.
The Sappers were looking to add to their win column in the hopes of making the Corps Final, however the Signals had put in some impressive performances so far during the season and would be a strong opponent at home, with a good mix of youth and experience in their squad featuring several Army U23 players along with a few wise heads, including Army Rugby legend, Jack Prasad pulling the strings at Fly Half.
Despite the cold spell which had brought snow flurries to parts of the country, the sunshine made a welcome appearance at Blandford RFC as the two sides took to the field.
It was the home side who started with good opening possession and territory as they probed away at the Sapper defence. A penalty gave them a kick to the corner, from where they set about adding the game's first points. The forwards drove well following the line out with an initial drive followed by a few attempts at the pick and go. With another penalty advantage awarded, they shipped the ball to the backs allowing Army player, John Davetanivalu to break through the middle of the defence for the opening Try, 0-7 to the Signals.
The Sappers came back straight away with pressure of their own and added three points through the boot of Captain, Marcus Mercer to close the gap, 3-7. Soon after, the Centre added to his tally with a Try - a great effort from close distance skipping through several tackles on his way to the line , 8-7.
The Signals looked like they were on the front foot and threatening to re-take the lead from a promising position inside the Sapper half. Following a nice driving maul form a line out, an inside pass was well read by Sapper Centre, Nacavamuto and he intercepted the ball and took off in the other direction. He had one defender to beat - Jack Prasad - it was an entertaining few seconds as the two Army legends came together. It was Naca who fended off his old teammate and carried on his way to the line for a good Try, 13-7 at half time.
The Sappers looked to take the momentum into the second half, however it was the hosts who started the brighter in the second forty. Straight from the kick off they regained possession and broke through the middle of the Engineer defence. After their replacement Prop was brought down just shy of the Try line it wasn't long before they eventually crossed over and re-took the lead after touching down at the base of the post, 13-14 to the Signals.
The Signals came back soon after with another good spell and would eventually extend their lead following another good driving maul with the forwards edging their way to the line. It was Fly Half, Jack Prasad, who got involved to aid in their effort as he picked up from a yard away to get
the score, 13-21.
The Sappers were struggling to get a foothold in the second half and were not helped with two yellow cards. The home side capitalised on the two man advantage with Davetanivalu touching down for his second Try of the game in the corner, seemingly putting the contest out of reach for the Sappers, 13-26.
The Sappers needed a quick response in the hope of rescuing a result. They got what they needed with Nacavamuto charging down a clearing kick from inside the Signals 22. A good bounce allowed the Centre to collect the loose ball and score under the posts to close the gap to 20-26 following the conversion.
It wasn't to be however as the final few minutes played out with the visitors unable to add any further points - the Signals taking the victory 20-26.
Congratulations to the Signals on their victory - the Sappers will now look to rebound strongly in a few weeks time as they travel to Larkhill to take on their oldest rivals, the Royal Artillery.
The Cannonball Trophy is of course up for grabs, however a win is also needed to stand a chance at making the Corps Final so it will add extra spice to the contest!
Be sure to come down and support the Sappers if you can on the 13th February! Ubique!
Royal Engineers @ Royal Artillery
Army Corps League 1 - Game 5
The final round of Army Corps Fixtures set up an intriguing finish to the season as several teams were still vying for a place in the Corps Final.
The Sappers continued their old rivalry with a trip to Larkhill to take on the Royal Artillery, with the winners going through to book their place in the Final.
The Gunners would prove a formidable opponent at home with a plethora of Army players in their squad and were looking to secure their fifth Cannonball victory in a row.
The Sappers were looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss in the previous round to the Signals and had a mixture of youth and experience in the line up as the two teams took to the pitch for a delayed 1430 kick off.
The visitors kicked off and had some early territory, but following an Artillery scrum inside their own 22' the Gunners ran a slick move in the midfield and opened up the Sapper defence early, with their Full Back, Whittington, finishing off a nice move, 0-5, RA.
The Sappers came back with another spell inside the Gunner half but were unable to capitalise on the field position to add any points themselves.
Following a knock on, the Gunners once again set up a nice attack from the resulting scrum. They used their pace on the outside to break into the Sapper half and following a quickly taken penalty, the Gunners extended their lead with a Try from Army Centre, Vulikijapani, 0-12.
Following an injury to a Royal Engineer player, the first half was cut short to ensure he received the appropriate medical attention, with the Gunners taking a 0-12 lead into the break.
As the second half got underway it was the Gunners who looked the more threatening with a spell inside the Sapper half. It was Vulikijapani once again who used good awareness to pick up from the base of a ruck and broke straight through the middle of the Sapper defence to run in for the score untouched, 0-19.
The Sappers were creating opportunities with the ball, however they were just lacking in the final phase of the pitch and were unable to break through the Gunner defence. Eventually, after a succession of Penalties, the Engineers were set up with a line out on the Gunner five metre line. The ball was shipped wide where Fly Half, Nacavamuto cut back towards the forwards and crossed over in the corner for the Try, 5-19.
Following the score, the Sappers enjoyed another good spell inside the Gunner half but were unable to add to their tally and the Gunners were soon back applying pressure of their own. Another Try soon followed, again set up from a scrum - this time from just inside the Engineer 22. A great pick up from Gunner Fly Half Vunivesilevu allowed their Winger to find a gap in the defence and break through a tackle on his way to the Try line, 5-26.
As the game entered its final stages, the Sappers were looking to add a consolation score - unfortunately it was the Gunners who would have the final say as replacement Hooker, Pete Austion of London Scottish intercepted a ball on the wing and set up a final Try for their #18 to cross the line, 5-31.
It was a difficult finish to the season once again for the Engineers, but positives can be taken from each game with plenty of youth and talent coming through to build on. The Sappers now look ahead to their Tour to America in May. Congratulations to the Royal Artillery on their victory and booking their place in the Corps Final.