Wales international Sian Williams has been selected to lead the UK Armed Force’s team at Cardiff Arms Park on 8 November. Williams, as both a serving member of the Royal Air Force and a regular international for Wales, presents the coaches on both sides with a difficult selection decision every year. But she says there will be no hesitation when she pulls on UKAF’s famous white jersey adorned with the poppies of Remembrance to captain a UKAF side determined to avenge their heavy defeat in 2016.
Williams said ‘The tradition of the game is one of huge emotion and I will do everything I can to lead the UK Armed Force to victory. We know what to expect and are ready to go to battle against a team that I know will throw everything at us. The Remembrance ceremony is moving and poignant, uniting us all – both sides, the crowd, those on parade – in Remembrance of the fallen. It’s particularly so this year, as we line up 100 years after the first Women’s rugby match in mainland Britain, played at Cardiff Arms Park on 16 December 1917 – at the time, the minds of the players would have been on the 245,000 dead, wounded or missing allied casualties lost at the battle of Passchendale that Summer. There is a lot of history behind this fixture as the game was played to raise money for War Charities, just as ours is today. The beauty of the game is that we can go head to head against a fierce opposition and still unite at the end and remember what really matters’.
There are 10 uncapped players in the squad. Reservist Aircraftswoman Lucy Nye, asked how she feels about the being selected for the first time enthused ‘Its an honor playing and competing for your single service but getting given the opportunity to play with all the services combined is amazing’, while another new call-up, Flight Lieutenant Kay Simmons, whose day job involves representing the military at court trials and overseeing internal legal procedures, reflected on her pride at ‘Being selected to step up and play alongside the best players in the Army, Air Force and Navy at a remembrance game’ describing it as ‘an honour’ to play given ‘the calibre of players involved’ and noted her pride at ‘the positive message we… …send out to women across the military’. We might add: across the military and beyond. This is sure to be both an inspiring and poignant night.
As Williams’ notes, this is a game about more than just the rugby, and will be marked as only the military can. The Welsh Guards will be present to flank the standard bearers of the Royal British Legion at the pre-match Remembrance ceremony, with a military band to entertain the crowd before kick-off; the national anthem will be sung by the talented Giorgia Rose, a bugler will announce reveille across a hauntingly silent Arms Park for the Remembrance ceremony to start and end the two minutes silence as all remember the fallen, both current colleagues and those long passed. At half-time the crowd will be entertained by the Corp of Drummers of the Royal Welsh, in full ceremonial dress – dating back to the uniforms worn at the famous battle of Rorkes’ Drift in South Africa. After the match the trophy presentation will be guarded and honoured by the presence of two of the Queens Dragoon Guards in full regalia.
The full line up of those called up to the squad is as follows (uncapped players marked with *):
Senior Aircraftswoman, S, Williams, RAF (UKAF Captain)
RN Lieutenant, C, Fredrickson, RN
Midshipwoman, O, Critchley, RN*
Captain, G, Rowland, Army
Captain E, Mills, Army
Captain, A, Hardy, Army
Corporal, B, Dawson, Army
Corporal, L, Dodd, Army*
Corporal, J, Mullen, Army
Corporal, C, Snead, Army*
Lance Corporal,, H, Silcox, Army
Lance Corporal, S, Batley, Army
Lance Corporal, M, Claassens, Army
Gunner, J, McAuley, Army
Private, S, Mimnagh, Army*
Private, E, Gattlin, Army
Flight Lieutenant, C, Siczowa, RAF
Flight Lieutenant, K, Simmons, RAF*
Flying Officer, E, Tadman, RAF*
Flying Officer, S, Gale, RAF*
Corporal, M, Waghorn, RAF
Senior Aircraftswoman, R, Walton, RAF*
Senior Aircraftswoman, C, Murray, RAF
Corporal, A, Newey, RAF
Aircraftswoman, A, Cokayne, RAF*
Aircraftswoman, L, Nye, RAF*
UKAF Women play Wales on 8 November 2017 at Cardiff Arms Park, kick-off 7.30pm, tickets available on the gate.
UKAF(W) will host a media day with photo, filming and interview opportunities between 0930 & 1100hrs, 6 November 2017 at their training camp at HMS Temeraire Burnaby Road, Portsmouth. In the afternoon of the same day, the players will visit the D-Day Museum at Southwick Park from 1400-1600hrs. Media are again welcome to join our players for this visit by advance arrangement. All media are encouraged to attend but for security reasons must register in advance by emailing Wing Commander Keith Dear at firstname.lastname@example.org providing the names of all attending, their affiliation, vehicle make, model, colour and registration number and an estimated time of arrival. Note that attendees will need photographic ID for access on the day, usually in the form of passport or driver’s licence photo card. Attendees who do not register and/or do not arrive with suitable photo ID cannot be allowed access.
Match day media access at both Cardiff & Bristol is by advance arrangement only, either direct with the stadia or via email@example.com.
K P Dear | Wing Commander | Royal Air Force | firstname.lastname@example.org | www.ukafru.com | Twitter @UKAFRugby