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UK Armed Forces Men vs Poland – Remembrance Match

UKAF - 14 Poland - 17

In a historic clash for UK Armed Forces rugby, the senior men’s team embarked on an exceptional journey to Gydnia, Poland, for a fixture of great significance commemorating Armistice Day and Polish Independence Day. This fixture held profound meaning as UKAF engaged in their first international opposition since 2010 when the Combined Services faced Samoa. Notably, it marked their initial overseas international fixture since 1998 when the Combined Services confronted the Netherlands in Amsterdam. Set against the backdrop of commemoration, the stage was set at Gydnia’s Narodowy Stadion, hosting a diverse audience that included passionate Polish supporters, UK ExPats, and devoted UKAF fans. The anticipation and historical importance of the fixture added layers of emotion and significance to the encounter.

The match itself unfolded as a tightly contested affair from the outset. The UKAF side showcased their prowess, dominating scrums and commanding possession for significant portions of the first half. Despite their control, the unwavering Polish defense thwarted their attempts to breach the scoring line. It was Poland who seized an early 7-0 lead after executing a potent driving maul just 6 minutes into the game. However, UKAF persisted, launching multiple assaults and stringing together driving mauls that unfortunately resulted in the ball being held up over the line at the 26-minute mark. The breakthrough they sought finally arrived just before the halftime whistle. Epeli Kotobalavu emerged victorious from a 5-meter line-out, driving the ball over the line and Jordan Gott’s successful conversion drew both teams level at 7-7. The second half witnessed shifts in momentum, with alterations in the pack favoring Poland. This led to their dominance and a series of penalties against the UKAF side. At the 65-minute mark, a stunning counter-attack orchestrated by UKAF set up Ben Chambers for a crucial try, giving them a 14-7 lead after Jordan Gott’s successful conversion. Drama ensued when, at the 68th minute, Jordan Gott received a yellow card for a dangerous tackle, leaving UKAF with 14 players on the field. With time ticking away, the Polish scrum powered forward, resulting in a penalty try that levelled the score at 14-14 with mere minutes left in the game. As the match entered its final moments, Poland earned a pivotal penalty within kicking distance. Their kicker maintained composure and slotted the kick through the posts, securing a nail-biting 17-14 victory just as the final whistle resounded across the stadium.

The match, brimming with historical significance and intense sporting action, culminated in Poland clinching a hard-fought win in the closing minutes. Both sides exhibited commendable skill and determination, contributing to a contest that will be remembered for its significance, intensity, and the resilience shown by both teams.

UKAF Line Up

1. Dave Manning - RAF

2. Epeli Kotobalavu - Army

3. Ben Watson - Royal Navy

4. Alex Hayton - RAF

5. Manasa Cakau - Army

6. Rory Mitchell - Royal Navy

7. Matt Dawson - Army

8. Kieren Forbes - RAF

9. Jay Toogood - Royal Navy

10. Jordan Gott - Royal Navy

11. Ben Chambers - Royal Navy

12. Jack Johnson - Army

13. Luke Cador - Royal Navy

14. Ryan Crowley - RAF

15. Toby Evans - RAF

16. Chris Williams - RAF

17. Nathanael Titchard-Jones - Army

18. Gareth Smith - Army

19. Kye Beasley - Royal Navy

20. Drew Davison - Army

21. Sonoma Veikune - Army

22. Dan Rutter - Royal Navy

23. Jordan Oatley - RAF

24. Sam Moorby - RAF