Troops Tackle Colchester on the Rugby Field

It was honours even as troops tackled civilians in a charity rugby match to build links between Colchester and the town’s soldiers.

16 Air Assault Brigade joined forces with Colchester Rugby Football Club to stage a community rugby day. The highlight of the free event, which took place at Colchester RFC’s Mill Road ground, was a match between the Brigade’s Dakota XV and Colchester RFC Barbarians.

The Dakota XV was made up of Brigade soldiers based at Merville Barracks and across the country and named in honour of the iconic aircraft used for airborne operations during the Second World War. The Colchester Barbarians featured players from clubs from across north Essex and Suffolk.

In a closely-fought contest played out in front of hundreds of spectators, the match ended in a 33-33 draw after each team scored five tries but missed a conversion. The result meant Dakota XV retained the trophy they had earned after winning last year’s inaugural match where the final score was 22-10.

After the match, Mayor of Colchester Cllr Chris Arnold and Col Jacko Jackson, Dep Comd of 16 Air Assault Brigade, presented the trophy and man of the match awards.

The day also feature mini-rugby matches and displays of military equipment, with music from The Band of The Parachute Regiment. An auction and collection raised an estimated £2,000 for Wooden Spoon, the rugby charity that supports mentally and physically disadvantaged children.

Col Jackson said: “It’s been a great event that has achieved our aim of bringing the civilian and military communities together through a shared love of sport. The main match was a really good contest that both sides were trying to win all the way to the final whistle.”

Alan Line, treasurer of Colchester RFC and Eastern Counties Wooden Spoon, said: “We’ve been very busy across the day with a large crowd coming to watch the rugby who have been very generous in their support of Wooden Spoon. The event has taken a massive step forward from last year and we look forward to it continuing to grow. We’re a community rugby club and the Army is an important part of Colchester. We’re delighted to have brought everyone together on the rugby pitch.”

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