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Reds set to make history in 100th clash

It is arguably the biggest sporting fixture on the Armed Forces calendar.

When the Army's rugby union stars face their rivals from the Royal Navy in the final game of this season's Inter-Services campaign they will be cheered on by a capacity crowd at Twickenham Stadium. And if an electrifying atmosphere fuelled by 80,000 fans was not enough to whet the appetite then this year's clash,
on April 29, will have added significance as it is the 100th time the sides have done battle.

The match has come a long way since it was first staged in 1907, when the Navy recorded a slender 15-14 win at the Queen's Club in Kensington. Initially only officers were allowed to play and it was not until 1920 that personnel from the ranks were selected. In the same year the action switched to the home of English rugby and it has gone from strength to strength ever since.

This success is no surprise to Maj (Retd) Chris Fowke, secretary of the Army Rugby Union, who has seen the fixture evolve into a Twickenham sell-out during his time in post. "Having taken on the role of secretary eight years ago, the attendance was just over 35,000,” he told SoldierSport.

"It’s incredible to think that we have now sold out the stadium inside three days."

"Our attendance is higher than the Premiership final. Why? Well, people use this as a date in the calendar so they can get together in a Service environment."

"The Rugby Football Union also tell us that the atmosphere in the stadium on Army-Navy day is like no other."

The grandeur of the occasion is not in doubt but the Reds’ players cannot afford to be distracted by such landmarks as they prepare to take to the turf.

Last year's encounter ended in a 29-29 draw as the Army blew a 19-point lead but with star man LCpl Semesa Rokoduguni (Scots DG) set to make the squad, the soldiers could well hold the trump card this time round.

Read the April 2017 magazine for more.

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