The road to Japan for the tri-services Rugby team began in July with a selection day. Players from all three services attended a two-day training camp in Portsmouth. If selected, we would all be meeting in September ready to fly to the International Defence World Cup (IDRC) in Japan.
September came and the good news had arrived and both Cpl Evans and Cpl Smith from The Royal Welsh had made the cut!
Once we had flown out to Narita, the UK Armed Forces team stayed just a short distance from the Narita airport. Training was underway immediately as the first game against the Georgian defence force was only four days after landing. Cpl Evans and Cpl Smith had both made the team. Game day had arrived, and it was an early start for the players.
After a hard-fought match, the UKAF team won their first game and was through to the semi-final - where they would face France, fortunately it wouldn’t be a repeat of the 2011 Rugby World Cup semi-final! But unfortunately for our plucky Welsh Warriors, Cpl Evans picked up an injury and would take no further part in the tournament.
The team had 8 days until the next game so were given some time to go and explore the culture in Japan. They got to see some of the war shrines, Tokyo and they visited a school where they did some rugby lessons with the local children from the area. When the team arrived in Tokyo they all got to go and do some good socialising with each other enjoyed some well-deserved beers.
A couple of days to relax and training commenced. Preparation for the French defence force was underway. The single services always played hard fought matches when playing the French services, so they knew this wasn’t a game to take lightly. The team was ready; Cpl Smith again being given the starting jersey. Walking to the pitch game faces on and ready to go into battle.
The final whistle blew and the UKAF team had come out on top. The road to the final was complete where they would face 2015 winners Fiji.
There was a real good feeling flooding through the team as they had a quick turnaround ready to play the defending champions. Preparation was finished and the team was announced. Cpl Smith again heading up the front row. This was it, one chance to become the defence forces world champions or wait four years to put it right.
Unfortunately, the team lost to a well drilled and strong Fiji defence team. It was a great effort from each player involved.
The team finally got to relax for the evening enjoying themselves with the New Zealand team at the hotel before the long 19 hour flight home.