Rugby deal is all shipshape

RUGBY UNION: The Royal Navy has presented the Eastern Counties Youth Rugby Academy with a cheque for £5,000 at a specially arranged match to celebrate the two-year sponsorship deal.

The Royal Navy has presented the Eastern Counties Youth Rugby Academy with a cheque for £5,000 at a specially arranged match to celebrate the two-year sponsorship deal.

The cheque was presented by Commander John Large, Regional Commander for Navy recruiting in the South of England, and accepted by Alan Stobbs, President of Essex Rugby Union and Chairman of the Eastern Counties Youth Academy.

Commander Large, who is a keen sportsman and fully-qualified rugby referee, then took to the pitch and refereed a match between the Eastern Counties U15s and the Bury St Edmunds Under 16s.

The match, which the Eastern Counties won 15-7, cements not only the sponsorship deal with the Navy, but also an on-going partnership between the Bury-based Academy and the Ipswich Navy Careers Office.


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The relationship has been pioneered by Corporal Phil Weedon from the office, who is a qualified rugby coach and used to play at a high level for the Royal Marines.

Commander Large said: "It is great to see this partnership developing, with the Navy able to plough back some of its skills and resources into the local community.

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"Just like the Navy, the Academy seeks to develop and support the skills of young people, to enable them to excel in their chosen field.

"I am really impressed with the skill, fitness and discipline shown by both sides today, and I am glad that the Navy has been able to help support the work of the Academy, and ease the enjoyment and achievements of all those involved."

The sponsorship funding has already been put to use in purchasing new kits and training tops for the Academy members, which carry the crests and logo of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines.

The money will also help the Academy arrange for leading rugby coaches to take sessions with the squads, and fund travel to and from coaching sessions and matches. Money will also be put towards funding a European tour later in the year.

The Royal Navy has also been hands-on in helping the Academy. Corporal Weedon has been involved in training sessions for the players, and is arranging a team-building weekend at the Marine's training base in Lympstone, Devon.

Through the sports coaching work that the Ipswich Careers Office do in schools throughout Suffolk, they have been able to identify players from local schools, to go forward for County trials and to train with the Academy.

The Academy which is based at Bury St Edmunds, is a new initiative for the most talented rugby players in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, aged between 15 and 18. As well as regular training and skills sessions, the Academy also field teams for the U15s, U16s, U17s and U18s.

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