2014 ASRU MEN’S NSW TOUR WRAP UP

The 2014 ASRU Men’s team concentrated at HMAS Penguin in North Sydney for a 1-week NSW tour, immediately following this year’s Australian Services Rugby Championship, which was won by Navy. The 26-
player squad comprised 13 players from Navy, 11 players from Army and two players from Air Force. 10 of these players were ASRU debutants. The team captain was Tony Luxford (halfback) from Army, the vice
captain was Tait O’Sullivan (hooker) from Navy. The head coach was Tony Doherty from Navy, supported by Andrew Thorpe from Navy and Scott Davidson from Army.
The team undertook two days of training ahead of their first tour match against NSW Suburban Rugby Union, on Wed 28 May. It had been nine years since ASRU and NSWSRU last competed for the Dasher Wheatley VC
Trophy, which was first contested in 1967. The last match in 2005 resulted in a NSWSRU victory.
This year’s match was played under lights at Rawson Oval in Mosman. ASRU scored the first try, but the majority of the match was dominated by NSWSRU, who ended up scoring nine tries to ASRU’s two tries. The
final score was 57 – 12. The NSWSRU team was simply a class above the young ASRU side, but the match was an important initial undertaking as part of ASRU’s development path towards next year’s International Defence
Rugby Competition. It also provided the team with a clear indication of the skill, aggression and pace they would encounter during Saturday’s match against NSW Country Rugby Union. To their credit, the ASRU team
did a good job of containing NSWSRU in the final quarter of the match, which saw each side score one try.
ASRU’s best player was Robbie Harlow (5/8) from Air Force. Post match, both teams were privileged to hear from ASRU luminary, Colonel Ian McKay (retired), who served with Dasher Wheatley during the 1960s.
The team relocated from North Sydney to Terrigal on Thursday, in preparation for Saturday’s match against NSW Country. 17 years had passed since ASRU and NSW Country last played. On that occasion back in 1997,
ASRU claimed victory. This year’s match, played in Singleton, had added significance, with the teams competing for the newly struck Geoff Richardson Cup, in honour of the former Wallably 5/8, who played for
ASRU and NSW Country during the 1960s and 1970s.
As expected, NSW Country played at a level on par with NSWSRU. They were fit, fast and skilful, and the standard of their support play enabled them to make big territorial gains. NSW Country scored the first try of the
match, but ASRU responded almost immediately with an intercept try. NSW Country led 24 – 7 at half time, having dominated the majority of possession and territory. To the credit of the ASRU team, they did not allow
NSW Country to have it all their own way. Their competitiveness during the first half was certainly an improvement on Wednesday’s match. The second half saw NSW Country extend their lead to 43 – 7 by the 13
minute mark, but ASRU refused to give up without a fight and kept NSW Country scoreless for the next 20 minutes. ASRU was eventually rewarded with a converted try from a well-executed lineout and driving maul.
They scored again, from another intercept try, closing the gap to 43 – 21. NSW Country scored the final try late in the half, winning the match 48 – 21. ASRU’s best player was Shayne O’Reilly (prop) from Navy.
It was a pleasure to re-engage two traditional opponents, and served to identify the level of play required by ASRU in preparation for next year’s international tour. Return matches against both teams are planned for 2015,
prior to heading to the UK. ASRU’s player of the tour was Scott Ashurst (flanker) from Army.
ASRU’s next match is against the Northern Territory Rugby Union Mosquitoes on Saturday 23 August 2014. That match will be played in Darwin.

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