UKAF U23 v Harlequins

Tonight UK Armed Forces Rugby U23 Men will take on a strong and young Harlequins side at the HAC in London in what promises to be a fantastic experience in an amazing setting. Huge thanks to the Honourable Artillery Company for again supporting Forces Rugby in hosting the highest levels of opposition.

All UKAF management and coaches, across all squads, have done an amazing job this season, in getting competitive squads together to play in fixtures, building UKAF rugby back to the pinnacle of Forces rugby union. This work has been especially testing for the UKAF U23’s player support group, who have worked tirelessly at short notice, in sometimes difficult circumstances to get a competitive side out on the pitch against strong opposition. Each time we have seen an improvement and today’s fixture being their strongest test yet, against an exciting and talented team. 

UKAF U23 Men on the steps of Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

The games against Ealing Trailfinders and more recently Coventry RFC seen a progressive unity, as players from across the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force come together, taking on the unique opportunity that UKAF Rugby offers. No more than 4 months ago these players were fierce opponents in the U23’s Inter services and through the common goal of UKAF Rugby they have come together to build a team under the guidance of the coaches and management. 

UKAF U23 Men training at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

The game today is the culmination of the season for the UKAF U23’s and as such is their capped game, the only opportunity that some of these players will have to earn the prestigious UKAF U23’s cap. 

We must thank the brilliant staff from throughout Harlequins RFC who have been so supportive to this capped fixture and have put together an exciting squad which will be a fantastic experience for these young servicemen to play against.

UKAF U23 Men training at Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

Some who might have been involved in the Senior Inter Services for their single services over the past month or so, returning to earn their UKAF U23’s cap and many from across the squad will be looking to have a full set of caps throughout their career for Single Services and UKAF. A set of caps that this summer for the first time will include a UKAF 7’s cap, as UKAF take a Men’s and Women’s 7’s side to Bournemouth and the to the World Military 7’s competition in France, both taking place in June. 

The match agains Harlequins is free to all. Come along and enjoy a top quality game of rugby in the heart of London!

Oxbridge Take the Spoils in Twickenham Thriller

UK Armed Forces U23 XV 36 Oxbridge U23 XV 48

The annual clash between UKAF and Oxbridge for the Northern Utilities Cup happened on Saturday at Twickenham after the annual Army v Navy match. The game was a physical and high tempo affair with both teams full of young and talented players determined to put on a good performance. The game started with both teams showing a willingness to spread the ball and test each other’s defence. Both teams put in good defensive efforts for the first few minutes of the game with the ball passing back and forth from forced errors. Oxbridge eventually found a hole in the defence and made a break but were pulled to the ground by the UKAF full back. UKAF were then in scramble defence mode and unfortunately couldn’t recover quick enough and Oxbridge went in for the first try. Oxbridge missed the conversion leaving the score 0-5.

A quality kick off from UKAF made Oxbridge lose the ball and UKAF transitioned into attack. The sustained pressure from UKAF forced a penalty and UKAF took the 3 points on offer with an accurate kick making the score 3-5 with only 10 minutes gone. UKAF kicked off and the next 10 minutes both teams showed some skilful ball handling and defence forcing each other to turn over the ball multiple times. The Oxbridge scrum was well drilled and forced a UKAF error which put Oxbridge on the attack in our half. Some quick hands and put Oxbridge in for another try, another missed conversion pushed the score line to 3-10. UKAF kick off again and again both teams are spreading the ball wide and defending hard. Racking up an few penalties and a warning from the referee the UKAF boys put themselves under pressure. Another penalty and the UKAF number 7 was given a yellow card, Oxbridge took full advantage and went in for their 3rd try again missing the conversion.  Score is 3 – 15.

Rising to the challenge of being a man down the UKAF team put in a good kick off and applied some pressure to Oxbridge in their half. Following good tactical rugby from UKAF they were able to work and opening and put Aaron James in for their first try, the conversion was landed and UKAF were back in the game 10 – 15.

UKAF received the ball from the kick off and both teams are still playing fast aggressive rugby which was causing errors from both teams. Oxbridge line out was looking like their weak area, but they seemed solid in the scrum and off the back of a scrum they made a break and went in for their fourth try.  This time the conversion is good, 10 – 22.  UKAF kicked off and really push the Oxbridge boys hard for the next few minutes. The UKAF line out was looking good and consistently getting the boys on the front foot. Trying to push it into half time UKAF missed an opportunity with some extravagant ball handling see the ball go to ground and the half time whistle.

Half Time UK Armed Forces U23XV 10 Oxbridge U23 XV 22

The second half started very much the same as the first with both teams playing high tempo rugby and putting in strong defensive efforts.  UKAF knew they had to score first and they had an pportunity from the previously dominaant Oxbridge scrum.  The ball was fumbled at the base allowing the UKAF team captain, Ryan Crowley to pounce on possession, break the first tackle and kick through.  It was a foot race to the line with Crowley looking the winner until he was taken off the ball.  The referee felt it was not a fair shoulder to shouder charge and went under the posts for the penalty try.  Oxbridge’s lead reduced to 17-22.

Oxbridge kicked off and in the first few collisions a player from each side went down with injuries forcing a stop in play. Neither injury was serious and play is restarted with an Oxbridge scrum and as the ball comes out they knock on gifting UKAF a scrum themselves. UKAF get the ball out quickly and try some expansive play which nearly goes wrong but the retain the ball and make a clean break down the left wing. Oxbridge intercept the ball as UKAF were challenging the goal line but their scrambling defence was strong and allowed UKAF to regain possession. As is so often the case turn over possession is the most dangerous and a clean break from UKAF brought their third try and with the conversion they gained the lad for the first time in the match, 24-22.

UKAF receive the ball from the kick off and clear their lines but Oxbridge run it straight back and secure a penalty in the ruck. A quick tap ends in a mistake from them under some strong UKAF defence which relieves the home team’s pressure. UKAF are quickly back on the attack themselves and following some good, fluent play, thought they had extended their lead with a fourth try only for the referee to chalk it off for a forward pass. It gave Oxbridge the opportunity to relieve the pressure but another error from the resultant scrum gifted UKAF the opportuty to cross again and this time the try was awared.  The conversion was missed but UKAF had extended their lead to 29-22.

From the kick off it was UKAF’s turn to make an error allowing Oxbridge to regain possession, but an interception put UKAF back on the attack. However loose work at the breakdown allowed Oxbridge to steal the ball and they managed to relive the pressure by clearing their lines with a good clearance. Oxbridge then pressured the UKAF lineout and stole possession.  They set a strong maul pushing the UKAF forwards back over their try line allowing Oxbridge to score a try and level the match were a successful conversion, 29 – 29.

UKAF put in a strong chase on the kick off and force a poor kick out of Oxbridge which doesn’t find touch. UKAF run it back but an error gifted Oxbridge the scrum. UKAF put in a strong push in the scrum but the referee wasn’t happy and gives a penalty against the home side for not driving straight. Oxbridge go on the attack again working their way down to our try line and eventually draw another penalty for one of the UKAF players coming into the ruck from the side. Oxbridge attacked quickly and crossed for a try, the conversion was good 29 – 36.

Oxbridge receive the ball from the kick off and fail to find touch on the return kick. Sustained pressure and quick handling from the UKAF team saw the Oxbridge defence give way and UKAF go under in under the sticks for the try, a simple conversion and again the match was level, 36 – 36.

The kick off from Oxbridge was a good one and though UKAF took the ball cleanly they were bundled into touch. The Oxbridge lineout didn’t go to plan but they were able to retain possession and make use of poor ball.  Following some quick handling and good footwork they turned the set back in to a well worked try and the regain of the lead 36-43 as the match drew to its end.

The game was then sealed asOxbridge regathered possession from the kick off and were soon back applying ressure o nthe home side.  A poor UKAF clearance gifted Oxbridge an attacking lineout. Again they build another strong maul before pushing for the line. Though UKAF match them initially Oxbridge keep their shape and forward pressure before eventually driving over for a mtach winning score.  The conversion was missed but Oxbridge had extended their lead, 36-48 and UKAF were unable to respond in the last few minutes of the game.

UKAF U23 XV Fight Back to Retain Trophy

It was perfect rugby weather as the UKAF U23s ran out against Oxbridge Blues at Twickenham Stadium for their annual fixture on Army v Navy day.

Both teams started strong in defence but errors in attack from both sides gifted possession back and forth. 8 mins in UKAF got a penalty in kicking range but the kick just fell short keeping the score to 0 – 0. On the 20 min mark Oxbridge looked like they would put the first points on the board with some good handling skills ending in a break down the wing, only to be stopped in their tracks by a supreme individual effort from the UKAF full Back.

Both sides continued to apply pressure to each other causing more forced errors. Finally a penalty against Oxbridge gave UKAF the opportunity to kick and put the first points on the board in 27th minute – UKAF 3 – 0 Oxbridge.

The game continued to swing back and forth until the 34th minute when Oxbridge put on a well worked backs move to go in for the first try; the conversion attempt was good, making the score UKAF 3 – 7 Oxbridge. The next 7 minutes saw some sustained pressure from UKAF until the half time whistle.

Half time score UKAF U23s 3 – 7 Oxbridge U23s.

The second half kicked off and it looked to be Oxbridge’s day with some good work from the forwards ending in their second try and conversion – UKAF 3 – Oxbridge 14. Oxbridge then started bringing on replacements to keep their momentum. UKAF followed suit;. this was the key turning point in the game with the fresh UKAF players lifting the intensity. Oxbridge had some sustained pressure but aggressive defence from UKAF team forced Oxbridge to make some silly mistakes. In the 56th minute more changes for both teams happened, but as Oxbridge’s discipline seemed to drop UKAFs forwards seemed to start clicking.

Oxbridge struggled to contain UKAF in the scrum forcing a poor kick from their scrum half which didn’t find touch but was gathered up by UKAF and put them straight on the attack. The forwards laid a good platform which allowed the backs to start working, putting UKAF in for their first try of the game in the 62nd minute; the conversion was also good – UKAF 10 – 14 Oxbridge.

UKAF started to dominate the game at this point with their fitness kicking in, allowing them to keep applying the pressure in the Oxbridge half. In the 66th minute a good line out from UKAF led to a rolling maul and they drove over the try line but the try is disallowed for a penalty infringement in the maul.

Oxbridge try to get back into the game but UKAF pressure caused another poor kick to be put in which was easily gathered by UKAF. The UKAF forwards began to get on a roll and easily powered out of their own half. The team got on a roll forward and start linking together and started to look more dangerous. Finally the Oxbridge defence cracked again and UKAF went in under the posts on the 71st minute. The conversion under the post was no problem pushing the score to UKAF 17 – 14 Oxbridge.  Despite their best efforts Oxbridge did not have enough left in the tank to get over the UKAF line.

A strong performance in a highly competitive game saw UKAF U23s winning for the second year running with a final score UKAF U23s 17 – 14 Oxbridge Blues.

Man of the match went to UKAF No 6 Kieron Forbes.

Chris Abel

UKAF U23 Announce Team to play Oxbridge

UKAF U23 will be looking to avenge ast season’s 36-30 loss to Oxbridge when they meet at Twickenham this Saturday, kick off 12:00


The UKAF U23 XV will be looking to avenge last season’s 36-30 loss to Oxbridge at Twickenham this Saturday. Three players return from that team, Harry Challenor (RAF), Joe Burton (Royal Navy) and Steff Wilson (Army). The captaincy remains with the Army, centre Marcus Mercer having taken over from last year’s captain Ross Parkins.

UKAF U23 XV v Oxbridge XV, Twickenham, Saturday 29 April 2017 Kick Off 12:00

UKAF U23 XV: Harry Challenor (RAFRU) *, Tom Hughes (RNRU), Joe Burton (RNRU) *, Jack Thompson (RAFRU), Ryan Tolley (ARU), Keiron Forbes (RAFRU), Josh Williams (RAFRU), Lloyd Wheeldon (ARU), James West (RAFRU), Frank Bognisoko (ARU), Marcus Mercer (ARU) [Captain], Billy Allington (ARU), Nick Slaney (RNRU), Steff Wilson (ARU) *

Replacements: Stepehn Jenkinson (ARU), Kai Stevens (RAFRU), Sam Veron (RNRU), Dan Mason (RNRU), Luke Temple (ARU), Ross McDougall (RAFRU), Tom O’Rourke (ARU), Rory Penfold (RNRU)

Perkins Looking Forward to Doubling Up His UKAF Caps

The Army’s Ross Perkins is due to step up from captaining the U23 XV at Twickenham to the Senior XV at Bath on Monday.


Having captained the UKAF U23 XV for the last two season’s at Twickenham, Army lock forward Ross Perkins has been included in a revamped UKAF Men’s Senior XV squad for the Remembrance Match against Bath United; to be played on Monday 21st November, at the Recreation Ground, KO 19:30.  He is one of eight uncapped players in the squad and will be desperately looking to get on to the field to add a senior cap to his cherished U23 cap.

Though schooled in the Naval heartland of Portsmouth, Ross is a proven fierce competitor in Army colours. As the Army’s U23 captain he claimed two Inter Services titles and is becoming an established figure in their senior squad.  However, from his time as UKAF U23XV cap and also his professional job in Joint Service Explosive Ordnance Disposal Operations Centre he is well used to working and playing alongside his sister service colleagues and is sure to fit in well to the Senior XV UKAF environment.

Ross Perkins receives his U23XV cap from UKAF Chairman, Paddy McAlpine


He is joined by five Army Rugby colleagues who will also be looking to win their first UKAF cap as well as two Royal Marines from the Royal Navy Rugby Union who are uncapped at UKAF level.  The full 23 player squad is as below.

UK Armed Forces Men’s XV Squad ]

Rank Name Parent Union Notes
Bdr Ken Dowding Army
LCpl Chris Budgen Army
LCpl Gaz Smith Army Uncapped
Sgt Nathanial Titchard Jones Army Uncapped
LSgt Mattie Dwyer Army
Fg Offr Stuart Philpott RAF
Capt Tom Burnham Army Uncapped
Muscn Edd Pascoe Royal Navy
Fg Offr Rob Bell RAF
LCpl Ross Parkins Army Uncapped
Gnr Shane Nayolo Army Uncapped
Cpl Ben Fox Royal Navy Uncapped
Fg Offr Matt Tibbatts RAF
Sgt Tom Chennell Army
AB (MW) Gareth Rees Royal Navy
LCpl James Dixon Army
Mne Matt Tichias Royal Navy
Flt Lt Tom Rock RAF Capt
Rgr Clive Leathem Army
Fg Offr Lloyd Owen RAF
Cpl Lee Queeley Army Uncapped
Bdr Owain Davies Army
Mne Sette Raumakita Royal Navy Uncapped


Parkin’s Team United Ahead of Varsity Challenge

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Lost in thought?  As a member of the 11th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, UKAF U23 skipper, Ross Parkins knows more than most that you do not always get a second chance.  Last year he led the Combined Services U23XV to a well deserved but tense 34-29 victory over Oxbridge.  This year he will captain the first ever United Kingdom Armed Forces U23 side when they once more face the challenge of the combined team from Cambridge and Oxford Universities.  He is determined to ensure that the UKAF side start their own chapter in the long history of Services rugby with a win and has spent the week, along with the UKAF coaches, ensuring that the side quickly come together as a United team and ensure they are ready to face an Oxbridge side that contains 10 full Blues. there will be no second chances at Twickenham when the match kicks off at 12:00


As ever the forward battle will be fierce.  As the UKAF side got up close and personal with the scrum machine to ensure that they will be a cohesive unit come Saturday, there was no room for anyone taking a free ride in their scrummage preparations.

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Although the Navy trio of Cooper, Trehan and Dowds were used to provide extra ballast when required.

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Leading from the front. Ross Parkins shows good form as the lineout was also put through its paces.

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With RAF flyhalf, Andrew Byrne (RAF Shawbury), delayed due to professional courses at RAF Shawbury, from joining the squad until Thursday  it was left to Greg Loydall (RNAS Culdrose)  to step in and provide midfield direction.  Both Byrne and Loydall will be playing their third Oxbridge fixture so bring a wealth of experience to the UKAF side.

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The backs have an exciting look about them and include two players, Frank Boginisoko (RLC) and Craig Edwards (7RHA), who have yet to win their single Service colours, which shows how far the UKAF coaching team have cast their net to ensure the UKAF side is the best possible.


The full UK Armed Forces U23 XV is as follows:

SAC Harry Challenor (RAF Odiham), AB Mark Dowds (HMS Queen Elizabeth), SLt Joe Burton (RAF Shawbury), Fus Dean Murphy (1RRF), Cpl Ross Parkins (Capt) (11 EOD Regt), Mid Tristan Trehan (BRNC Dartmouth), LCpl Matt Lamont (17 P&M Regt), Mne Lewis Cooper (42 Cdo RM), Spr Oliver Watkins (26 Engr Regt), SAC Andrew Byrne (RAF Shawbury), Pte Frank Boginsoko (RLC), AET Greg Loydall (RNAS Culdrose), Spr Jake Campey (39 Engr Regt), Gnr Craig Edwards (7RHA Regt), LCpl Stefan Wilson (32 Engr Regt)

Replacements: CFN Darius Hamilton (1RW), Spr Kris Barker (75 Engr Regt), Gnr Kyle Mellor (4RA), AB Ben Roberts (HMS King Alfred), ETME Jack Basher (HMS Lancaster), Pte Damion Miller (1RW), ETME James Griggs (HMS Sultan), Cpl Jack Lowe (RAF Cosford)

The match kicks off at 12:00 30th April 2016. Entry to Twickenham is by Army Navy ticket.