ROYAL AIR FORCE

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THE ROYAL AIR FORCE WAS FORMED ON 1 APRIL 1918 AND THE AIRMEN WERE KEEN TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO PLAY HIGH LEVEL RUGBY AND TO COMPETE AGAINST THE SOLDIERS AND SAILORS ON THE RUGBY FIELD AT THE EARLIEST OPPORTUNITY

raf-oldHowever when the young RAF Rugby Union Honorary Secretary, Flight Lieutenant William Wavell Wakefield (England, Harlequins and a Conservative politician – later Lord Wakefield of Kendal) tried to arrange fixtures against the other two Services, the Army agreed but initially the Royal Navy did not. Following a great deal of discussion the sailors acquiesced but refused to award caps for the encounter, although they did for their annual game with the Army. When the Chief of the Air Staff Lord Trenchard got to hear about this he mentioned it to King George V who very much favoured his new Service. The King then summoned the most senior officer in the Royal Navy and put him on the spot by saying “I would like to know more about this insult to my Royal Air Force”. Needless to say the issue was rapidly resolved and the Tri-Service tournament came in to being in 1920. The RAF won its first Inter-Service match in 1922, ironically against the Navy and took its first Inter-Service title in 1923.

With famous names from the World War 2 era such as Douglas Bader, Ken Rees and George Beamish all playing for the RAF, there has also been a host of post-war regular RAF officers who made their mark, including Bob Stirling, Jeff Young, Lions wing Billy Steele, England Captain Bob Weighill, England locks Peter Larter and John Orwin and full-back Paul Hull. Winger Rory Underwood, who served as a pilot throughout his record breaking England career which included 85 Tests and 49 tries. England’s previous top try-scorer was another RAF man, Cyril Lowe.

The RAF has had it ups and downs over the years and has won the overall Inter Services competition 15 times and been part of a Triple Tie 10 times. 2015 has been a fantastic year for the RAF Senior XV with wins against both Oxford and Cambridge University sides on the way to the annual Inter- Service matches, where the RAF drew with the Royal Navy and then beat the Army leading to the RAF being crowned Inter-Service champions. It had been a long wait since the last time the RAF held the title in 1994.

raf-2RAF Rugby Union has come a long way since the formation of the RAF and it now offers something for everyone in the RAF regulars and reserves with a wide range of teams and roles to suit all, with the aim of promoting rugby union from grass roots level upwards. The 2000/2001 season saw the formation of the RAFRU Women’s XV and the fledgling side has developed considerably over the past 15 years with squad members now regularly playing for premiership clubs and with International caps being earned. The RAF 7s team the ‘Spitfires’ have been hugely successful at UK and overseas 7s tournaments and the U23s and Hawks development sides have been providing an excellent foundation for the Senior XV. Additionally there is the Veterans’ side, the ‘Vultures’, the Referees Society and a wide range of RAF Station, Divisional and Community rugby sides and events going on – to find out more go to: www.raf.mod.uk/rafrugbyunion

Rugby Union is thriving across the RAF and the Senior squad is very much looking forward to the forthcoming International Defence Rugby Competition.

SQUAD

Player Position
DAVE MANNING FRONT ROW
RYAN HOPKINS FRONT ROW
BRAD COOK FRONT ROW
MARTIN TUSTIN FRONT ROW
DAVE DAVIES FRONT ROW
TIM COGHLAN FRONT ROW
STU PHILLPOT FRONT ROW
JOSH MCNALLY 2ND ROW
DAZ OLIVER 2ND ROW
JON HALL 2ND ROW
MATT BROUGHAM 2ND ROW
ANDY TIBBATTS BACK ROW
MATT TIBBATTS BACK ROW
IAN DOWNSBOROUGH BACK ROW
ROB BELL BACK ROW
RICHIE CRAIG BACK ROW
JIMMY CHALLENGER BACK
DAVE HANKINSON BACK
TOM GARDNER BACK
TOM ROCK BACK
LEE QUEELEY BACK
MARTIN MCROBBIE BACK
PHIL THOMAS BACK
LLOYD OWEN BACK
ADI GILLESPIE BACK
TUPUA BACK
JACK EDWARDS BACK
CHRIS CRAIG BACK

TEAM MANAGEMENT

Name Position
SQN LDR RICH LANE TEAM MANAGER
FS TUG WILSON HEAD COACH
C/T PUAL FISHER FORWARDS COACH
WO ANDY SMALES BACKS COACH
FS JAMIE HILLMAN KIT MANAGER
WG CDR CLIVE MONKLEY DOCTOR
FLT LT JAMES LACK PHYSIO
SGT ROSS TARNOWSKI S&C
tug-wilson

HEAD COACH
TUG WILSON

Tug Wilson has been involved with Royal Air Force Rugby Union for over 23 years as a player and then coach. Working his way through the coaching ranks of RAF Rugby from U23 Level to Head Coach of the RAF Senior XV over the past 11 years, his current five season tenure as Head Coach of the RAF Senior XV has overseen a dramatic upturn in RAF Rugby Union fortunes and some historical results. Bringing his knowledge and experience from civilian club rugby Premiership Community Coaching with London Welsh, Saracens and Wasps, along with 3 years with the Rugby Football Union as a Rugby Development Officer, he steered the RAF Seniors to the Inter-Services Championship 2015. Wilson has also coached the Combined Services at all levels including Head Coach of the Senior Team. He is a RFU Coach Educator and Director of Rugby for Witney RFC in Oxfordshire. Currently serving with No 1 Air Mobility Wing at RAF Brize Norton, he is married with three children.