Royal Air Force Rugby Union was front and centre again on national TV with players from the RAF Women squad featuring on BT Rugby Tonight. Building on the successes of RAF rugby during the 2017/18 season, culminating as the inter-Services Champions, the players described their training and preparation for the forthcoming 2018/19 season including matches scheduled against British Police, Litchfield Ladies and the Swedish National team. With the majority of the RAFWRU squad playing regularly in the Tyrrells Premiership, it was no surprise that Austin Healey, Ben Kay and Ugo Monye asked them to be the Demo Team to explain the controversial Courtney Lawes offside decision when England narrowly lost to the All Blacks. With SAC Hannah Wale and Sophie Hill acting as the forwards in the ruck, SAC Rhi Walton from RAF Brize Norton took the starring role as a stunt Courtney as the complicated offside rule and where the ‘back foot line’ was explained. Whilst David Campese, the Australian rugby legend, declared that Lawes remained offside, clearly the other presenters, all capped England players, had a different opinion!
Cpl Sian Williams, a logistics specialist currently on the RAF Elite Athlete Scheme, provided the audience and Ugo with an insight into her busy rugby playing life as a serving NCO, a professional rugby player within the Welsh national squad and as one of the key players for the RAF and UKAF.
The evening was not without controversy however as Flt Lt Chrissy Siczowa, an RAF Provost officer from RAF Honington and the RAF Womens captain and a player for Saracens Ladies, was selected to challenge for the Rugby Tonight ‘Smashometre League Table’. As the male players provided some credible scores as they hit the tackle bag, Flt Lt Siczowa delivered a decisive blow placing the RAF Women in 12th position and the hardest female tackle of the series. Austin Healey contested that she had though led with a straight arm, ensuring maximum impact on the electronic sensory and proposed a yellow card. Chrissy’s powers of persuasion, quick thinking and natural leadership ensured that the score remained and the RAF Women’s Rugby Union will remain high on the League table for the rest of the series!
Participation in the programme is part of the through-season squad development as they build to play the RN at The Stoop, West London on 5 Apr 19 and the Army at Kingsholm, Gloucester, on 27 Apr 19 as the RAF compete for the Babcock International Inter-Service Rugby Union Titles.