Paras Tackle Marines on the Rugby Pitch

Paras were pitted against Commandos as the Army’s airborne troops and the Royal Navy’s soldiers at sea took to the rugby pitch.

The Para Regt and Airborne Forces played The Royal Marines at rugby league for the Trafalgar Cup. The annual fixture saw the Paras defend the title, running in a 22-20 victory in a tight contest at Colchester’s Budd VC Gymnasium.

The match kicked off a summer of rugby league at Merville Barracks, with 16 (Air Asslt) Bde hosting the Armed Forces Rugby League World Cup.

SSgt Andy Hunter, head coach of the Paras’ team, said: “The team performed well and every player earned their jersey. There’s no love lost between the Paras and Marines and the match was every bit as hard fought as you’d expect, with a few injuries on each side. We played a hard and aggressive contact game for the first 20 minutes and then settled into more free flowing rugby. Our aim was safe, unspectacular play and not to commit any handling errors, and it gave us the victory.”

Over the history of the Trafalgar Cup, which has been played since 1998, the Marines have won six times and the Paras five, with one drawn match.

SSgt Hunter said: “In previous years we have looked at this fixture as a chance to batter the Marines, but we’ve taken it a bit more seriously in recent years and gone out to play good rugby and win. This is our first back-to-back victory, and we look forward to levelling the series next year.”

The Armed Forces Rugby League World Cup took place in Colchester as part of the Festival of World Cups, with competitions for women, police, wheelchair users and students building up towards the Rugby League World Cup 2013, which is taking place across Britain in the autumn.

A showcase match between reigning champions Great Britain and Australia took place as part of the 16 Air Assault Brigade and Colchester Garrison Show on 6th July.

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