Spirits are high at Glencorse Barracks this week as Fijian members of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland wish their homeland rugby team good luck in the Rugby World Cup.
“VAKANUINI VINAKA KI NA TIMI KEI KEMUDOU NA VAKALESILESI ENA QUITO ME QARAVI TOSO VITI TOSO” was chanted with passion and pride following a touch rugby session.
This means, “All the best to the team and management of the upcoming game, go Fiji go”.
Sport in the British Army fosters cohesion, pride, humility, ability to thrive under pressure and courage to overcome. It sharpens the competitive edge and inspires a will to win. It also develops and enhances leadership and teamwork. All traits that are important to a soldier in the British Army.
There is a large rugby following within the British Army and the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS), has its own elite group of players from across the United Kingdom and Fiji.
Despite being deployed across the world, delivering United Nations support in Mali, and exercising in Oman its rugby team has managed to compete in multiple top tier rugby competitions, including Dubai 7s.
Sport in general is great for battalion cohesion and the team aspect of rugby only enhances that. It’s an opportunity for soldiers from a variety of different backgrounds to come together for a common goal." Major Shepherd, 2 SCOTS OC Rugby
Major Edward Shepherd, 2 SCOTS Officer Commanding Rugby said:
“Sport in general is great for battalion cohesion and the team aspect of rugby only enhances that. It’s an opportunity for soldiers from a variety of different backgrounds to come together for a common goal. It’s something that’s especially important to us here at 2 SCOTS, where rugby has played a big part in bringing us together.”
Moral within the 2 SCOTS rugby team has been lifted by recent events in the Rugby World Cup. Maj Edward Shephard stated:
“Our Fijian soldiers are definitely excited right now; Fiji has had a massive win over Australia, and they’ve got a good chance of getting to the next round. Things are a little bit tougher in the Scottish camp but it’s not over until it’s over!”
He added: “Rugby is a big part of Fijian culture and one that they share with enthusiasm with our Scottish soldiers. It’s a great way to bridge any cultural gaps and something that we will always thoroughly encourage.”
2 SCOTS has players who represent the Army in Scotland team and Infantry rugby. Lance Corporal Raivou recently toured the US with the Infantry Rugby 7s team and Fusiliers Canakaivata and Kotobalavu have represented the Army in Rugby League.
Fusilier Joape Kotobalavu said: “Being an infantry soldier and able to continue with rugby helps with fitness. Rugby is very similar to attacks within the infantry, whether that’s the tactics or the aggression needed to push forward.”
To a Fijian soldier it is important for to continue to progress with rugby when they join the British Army.
Fusilier Kotobalavu added: “It is part of our culture, and it is in our blood. We grow up playing the game and continuing to play and enjoy it in the British Army is important. It brings the Fijian community within the Army and other services in the military together”.
2 SCOTS Rugby team has also hosted Heriots Super 7s and Edinburgh University Rugby Teams for joint training events in recent months, building strong community links.
Following the training session Fusilier Jamie Guild, a Scottish infanteer, said:
“The morale with the Fijians is outstanding as the team is doing so well. Our platoon is extremely supportive of Team Fiji when they are playing, and everyone is following the team very closely”.
When asked how important it is for a soldier to continue playing rugby whilst committed to infantry training, Fusilier Guild stated:
“I think it is really important for maintaining enjoyment in our training and working on different aspects of soldiering. Our job is very full-on when we are away so it’s really important to maintain doing fun, enjoyable sports when we can”.
Scotland based soldiers can join the Army in Scotland (AiS) Rugby team, an amazing opportunity for units based in Scotland to showcase their rugby talent on a wider stage.
Players through the AiS team see this as an opportunity to be coached and exposed to a level of rugby much higher than that they would otherwise receive in Battalion.
More broadly Army Rugby Men’s team has just contributed twenty players and staff to the UK Armed Forces contingent which has recently returned from the International Defence Rugby Competition in France over the past month.
Run every four years prior to the Rugby World Cup, UKAF Rugby won a bronze medal having defeated Tonga, Georgia, and Spain in the group stages. It then unfortunately lost a close encounter against the Fijian Defence Forces in the semi-final, before bouncing back to overturn New Zealand in the Bronze Medal playoff.
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