North vs South in rugby showdown

Although there’s been a permanent Royal Navy minehunter presence in the Gulf for more than a decade, only now is there a rugby match to settle bragging rights.

Lieutenant Kyle De Banks, RN, HMS Blyth’s Executive Officer, organised the inaugural clash between sailors from Faslane (his ship plus HMS Shoreham, both from 1st Mine Countermeasures Squadron) and sailors drawn from Portsmouth’s 2nd MCM Squadron, currently crewing sister ships HMS Ledbury and Brocklesby.

Bahrain RFC was the setting for the North vs South contest, played in the early evening to escape the worst of the punishing Middle East summer heat.

The Southerners took a 12-0 lead into the break, courtesy of two tries from Diver Ryan McMenemy.

I have been a fan of rugby for 20 years and I saw the highest quality of rugby and competitiveness here tonight

Commander Simon Cox RN

After half time, Lieutenant Tom Brown reduced the deficit after he and the rest of the pack bundled the ball over the line following a penalty.

Both teams continued to fight hard until the last minute, but without any further scoring and the game finished 12-5 to the Southern team.

Commander Simon Cox, in charge of all the RN’s Gulf-based minehunters, presented the trophy to the winners, praising the passion of the game, saying it was one of the best amateur games of rugby he had watched.

“I have been a fan of rugby for 20 years and I saw the highest quality of rugby and competitiveness here tonight,” he told players.