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Army v Royal Navy Rugby Match at Twickenham IP: 184.108.40.206 Posted on 5/4/2022 at 13:10:32 by Dennis Laverick For RHQ
RHQ/FUSILIERS/1363 5th April 2022
We have been asked to publicise the letter below from the Second Sea Lord and the Deputy Chief of the General Staff which refers to crowd behaviour at the annual Army v Royal Navy Rugby Match at Twickenham on 30 April 2022.
If you are attending, then please enjoy the rugby but comply with the direction of the letter.
THE ARMY v ROYAL NAVY RUGBY UNION MATCHES – TWICKENHAM - 30 APRIL 2022
1. The Army and Royal Navy Rugby Unions will compete for the Babcock Trophy at Twickenham on Saturday 30 April 2022. This will be the 103rd match but importantly, the first after two fallow years due to the pandemic. Yet again, we are planning to have a full stadium, the match will be ‘live streamed’ by BFBS and generate revenue which is put directly back into the Forces game. It is a uniquely high-profile occasion which enhances our reputation.
2. However, this year we have a new offer and a new match focus. We are delighted that the women’s match will be played on the main pitch at Twickenham after the men’s match. We encourage you all to remain in the stadium bowl to watch this equally important fixture. Secondly, to make the match more accessible, we have a new seating area just for families, which attracts a more affordable ticket price. We are delighted those tickets have sold so well and note that the area is alcohol free. Although stewarding will be provided for this area, we’d ask that you pay special attention to your behaviour around the younger spectators.
3. We have also adopted some new procedures to ensure a safer and more friendly event as a result of some lower-than-expected behaviours after the 2019 fixture. As such, we have reduced the opening hours of the bars in the stadium, made non-alcoholic and low alcohol drinks more available, increased the number of stewards, ceased the Kneller Hall fixture, and have asked establishments in Twickenham town centre to adapt their licensing arrangements. There is increased public transport provision to get you to and from the fixture, extra porta-loos across pedestrian ‘corridors’ from both the railway station and the Rosebine coach park. This is enhanced by a strong local and military police presence as well as local authority appointed penalty enforcement officers.
4. Our purpose in writing now is to seek to address some behaviours that undermine our reputation. The police report from the 2019 fixture was generally positive but the two services remain under pressure from local authorities to move the game away from their residential area. Some of the attendees at the match do not behave in a way that any service person would condone, and we appear at times to be out of kilter with behaviour at other Twickenham matches. Behaviour within the stadium grounds has improved over recent years; thank you. However, behaviours in the vicinity, prior to, during and after the match - in service stations, train stations, pubs and clubs – continue to give significant cause for concern. "Traditions" of alcohol-fuelled travel to the event, particularly those on coaches and transiting service stations, are not acceptable.
5. So we must act. Echoing the efforts of the players on the pitch, we are asking supporters to play their part. To this end, the chain of command will be supported by a joint Navy and Army communications campaign under the strapline #BringYourAGame. We must uphold the highest values and standards of our respective Service, not just for the local authorities, the Metropolitan Police and Rugby Football Union, but also as proud service people. This is about respect. Showing respect for the match, the players, other supporters and local residents. We will all be under scrutiny on the day and we ask that you consider your behaviour and how it is perceived throughout the day. We also ask that you do what you can to discourage the poor behaviour of others. Finally, rest assured, we recognise that ill-discipline does not stem exclusively from the serving community, hence we ask that this letter is communicated through Regimental and Veterans' Associations. We all have a part to play.
6. We are passionate about this historic and prestigious annual sporting event. We wish it to serve as an affirmation of our shared commitment to generating professional teams that compete fiercely and demonstrate physical robustness, courage and commitment. Both Services hold dear the unique attributes of our elite sports teams that demonstrate the battle-winning qualities that we promote and develop in our people. So, let us work proactively to stamp out the ill-discipline displayed by a small number of attendees and work to generate an overwhelming atmosphere of positivity that celebrates camaraderie and the best of service life.
Colonel (Retd) J W Denny MBE