(1878 - first representative side)
|Location||HMS TEMERAIRE, Burnaby Road, Portsmouth, PO1 2HB|
|President||Vice Admiral P A Jones CB|
|Most appearances||Bob Armstrong (31 Inter Service Caps)|
The Royal Navy Rugby Union (RNRU) was formed in 1906 to administer the playing of rugby union in the Royal Navy. It fields a representative side that competes in the Army Navy Match, although a side representing the Royal Navy predates the formation of the union by twenty-eight years. The RNRU also has had a number of international players within its representative squads in all forms of the game. In 2011 the RNRU produced its first women's international as well as providing the captain of England VIIs.
At the beginning of the twentieth century a number of service based clubs existed but found it hard to gain support from service players, because it was considered necessary to turn out for civilian clubs to get first-class games. However, in 1902 the United Services Recreation Ground began to give financial support to the United Services Portsmouth Rugby Football Club to stimulate interest. The club quickly began performing strongly and gained an excellent reputation and equally strong fixture list. The appeal that had been sent out to all naval players to support Service clubs had worked and a definite movement had been made to induce all officers in the Navy to give up playing for civilian clubs. Soon after in 1906 the RNRU was formed, with many of its players international standard.
The highlight of the RNRU season is the annual Army Navy Match held at Twickenham. The first of these matches took place in 1878 at the Kennington Oval, but it was not until 1907 that the match became an annual fixture as part of the Inter-Service Competition. In 1919, an Inter-Service Championship was arranged by the Army Rugby Union, which included Service teams from Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as a Royal Air Force team and a British Army team playing under the name 'Mother Country'. The Mother Country and New Zealand Army reached the final at Twickenham, with New Zealand winning the encounter to lift the King's Cup. In 1920 the Army Navy competition was expanded to included the Royal Air Force.
Aside from the Army Navy match and the Inter Service Championship the various Navy Representative teams (1st XV, U23, Women and Veterans) play in a number of competitions during the season in both the fifteen and seven aside games. There are three knockout cups run exclusively for the ships of the Fleet and in the middle of December there is the final of the RNRU Knockout Cup, open to all Establishments, Ships and Royal Marine Units. The Inverdale Trophy (formerly the Blakeney Cup) is named after a past Life Member of the Royal Navy Rugby Union Surg Capt Inverdale RN. It is competed for annually by the five Commands of the Fleet Air Arm, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Royal Marines and Scotland. The competition has enjoyed many formats and is currently competed for over a week for the right to be called RNRU Command Champions and the opportunity to represent the RNRU at an overseas tournament.
The RNRU is a Constituent Body of the Rugby Football Union and in honouring its role in the evolution of the game in England it has as a mission statement: "To promote, develop, administer and finance rugby football in the Royal Navy throughout the world in support of the Rugby Football Union". This is achieved by financing coaching seminars and courses; administrating the game, and officiating the games through the provision of referees and touch judges.
Senior XV Cup Competitions
The Royal Navy Rugby Union Senior XV players annually for five cups as well as playing in the triennial Commonwealth Navies Rugby Cup. The longest cup competition is the annual Army Navy match which is held at Twickenham. The Unions first played each other in 1907. The Royal Navy has played the Royal Air Force annually since 1920 which is also the year that the Inter Service Competition was inaugurated. The Royal Navy annually play the Irish Defence Forces and have done since 2002. The final annual cup match is against the French Navy, the Marine Nationale. The first match was played in 2005 and since 2011 the Royal Navy Rugby Union have awarded caps for this fixture.