Royal Marines win Virginia Gauntlet Trophy 

Royal Marines have lifted the Virginia Gauntlet Trophy for a second time after beating the United States Marine Corps 4-1 in the sports games in the USA. 

Victories in the football, golf, skeet (clay shooting) and rugby saw the 250 travelling commandos retain the trophy, having won the first Virginia Gauntlet competition seven years ago.

Only a defeat in the basketball prevented a white wash at the event held at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, about 37 miles south of US capital Washington DC.

“The wide score does not tell the true story of this amazing tournament, many of the events were on a knife edge throughout,” said Sergeant Kristian Foster. 

“The golf was still up for grabs going into the last two holes on the final day of the tournament and the skeet was also taken by a narrow margin.”

The competition started with a 6-1 victory in the football, following the opening ceremony at Quantico’s Butler Stadium. 

The Royal Marines staged a stunning comeback after going a goal down in the opening ten minutes. 

That opening match got the ball rolling literally and metaphorically as the British took a 1-0 lead overall heading into the second day of events.

A closely-fought golf tournament followed and it was on the third and final day the Royal Marines managed to pull away from their American counterparts to win the Ryder Cup style event 12.5 points to eight. 

“With the scores all square after two days, everything was still there to play for going into day three, the British Marines dug deep to grind out the win and in turn put the team 2-0 up in the race for the trophy,” added Sgt Foster.

With their backs up against the wall, the basketball showdown came just in time for the USMC. 

The wide score does not tell the true story of this amazing tournament, many of the events were on a knife edge throughout

Sergeant Kristian Foster

The Americans defeated the Royal Marines 73-62 to halve the deficit and give them a fighting chance of pulling level with the visitors.

Command Warrant Officer 2nd Class Greg Hill of USMC said: “The Royal Marines surprised us a little bit by how good they were, but this is one of our national sports - we were always going to win in the end.” 

The hosts sensed an opportunity to make it 2-2 heading into the skeet, but the ruthless commandos hit 1061 clays out of 1200 with the shotgun to take a decisive win. 

USMC hit 993 of 1200, but it wasn’t enough to keep them in the Virginia Gauntlet Trophy running and the Royal Marines took the silverware before the finale, a rugby match back the Butler Stadium. 

After a couple of early tries it was difficult for the USMC to get back into the game and the British took a decisive 29-0 win the first of two matches.

USMC took an early lead in the second showdown, but the Royal Marines finished strongly to take a 19-7 win.  

Captain Sam White of the USMC said: “The game is about competition between two teams but more importantly it’s about developing that camaraderie and esprit de corps we have had for hundreds of years.”

After the final whistle, Colonel William Bailey reluctantly presented the Virginia Gauntlet trophy to Lieutenant Colonel Steve Crouden to bring the Virginia Gauntlet tournament to a close.

The exercise was organised by Major Scotty Mills along with Warrant Officer 1st Class Scott Ferguson and is uniquely funded by the Royal Marines Charity, Royal Navy and Royal Marines Sports Lottery and the Royal British Legion, along with personal contributions from the sportsmen and women.