History of Royal Australian Navy Rugby League
In 2008, Navy played in the curtain raiser during the Centenary of Rugby League ANZAC Test between Australia and New Zealand, a game that attracted a crowd of over 30,000 people. Additionally, the Defence Rugby League World Cup, hosted by the ADF, was held from October to November and played in conjunction with the Rugby League World Cup 2008.
Season 2009 saw the inaugural entry of the Navy Titans into the Sydney NSW Tertiary Student Rugby League (NSWTSRL) competition. This competition comprises 12 mainly university and TAFE teams from not only metropolitan Sydney but also Newcastle, Bathurst and Canberra. The opportunity to compete on a weekly basis substantially improved our playing roster and Navy’s exposure to the wider community.
Realising the depth of the Navy Rugby League team from lead-in competitions including the Harbord Valley United 8s and NSWTSRL 9s, the NSWTSRL Board made a decision after three rounds to promote the Navy Titans to the NSWTSRL First Division. This decision to promote the Navy side was vindicated through consistently strong performances which saw the Navy Titan’s finish Fourth overall, being defeated in the Preliminary Final. This was quite an achievement in the Navy’s inaugural season of regular weekend football.
After a successful 2009 Season in the NSWTRL, RANRL continued a successful recruitment drive by hosting our own Ships and Establishments Rugby League Tournament (Patrons Cup) which saw nine Navy teams compete, and entered both an A Grade and Second Grade side in the Cronulla Sutherland District Junior Rugby League Competition for the 2010 season. The 2010 season saw great exposure within Navy with our player base doubling to 50 officially registered Navy players. 2010 also saw a name change with the Navy Rugby League being renamed the Navy Tridents.
A significant event which saw maximum national and regional exposure for Navy Rugby League on both television, 7PM Project, and radio, Today FM, in early 2010 was our involvement with the Hamish and Andy Show’s Bi Bi Triathlon. This opened up closer areas of liaison with the National Rugby League which has been utilised for both Navy and our corporate sponsors.
Another significant event for Defence Rugby League in 2010 was the Defence Inter-Service Rugby League (ISRL) competition between Navy, Air Force and Army, held in Townsville in October resulting in a number of Navy players being selected in the Combined Australian Services Rugby League (CASRL) Team.
In 2010 we entered our seventh year. This year presented us with a new outlook and a strong desire to foster and promote rugby league to new levels within the RAN. We built on our many successes, continuing to professionalise the sport’s management and profile within the RAN whilst maintaining a consistently high quality amateur Navy Rugby League team. Our close ties with the NRL, ARL and the NSWRL Academy helped us to achieve this aim. In 2011 the Navy Tridents joined the South Sydney District JRFL competition and following a couple of highly competitive seasons reached the finals in 2013.
As an association we received numerous offers from abroad to tour including a Navy Tri-Nations tour to New Zealand in 2011 to play several games against the Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZNRL) and Royal Navy (RN) Rugby League teams. Earlier in 2011 eight Navy players were selected to play for the CASRL Team following a successful ISRL competition and Navy played Army as the curtain raiser for the 2011 Anzac Test Match and in 2012 the team toured Hawaii.
In 2014 Navy once again competed in the annual Defence ISRL competition; this year held at the Ipswich Jets Ground in Queensland. The Navy Tridents competed in the traditional Navy manner displaying our values of Honour, Honesty, Courage, Integrity and Loyalty both on and off the field. Although results did not fall our way the team was held in high regard by all involved resulting in a number of players being selected for the CASRL Team to play PNG as a curtain raiser for the PM XIII Game in PNG in September 2014.
2014 saw a number of international matches with the Royal Marines Rugby League (RMRL) Team touring Sydney in mid 2014 and the next Navy Rugby League Tri-Nations Cup (RAN/RN/RNZN RL Teams) held in Sydney in October 2014. The game against the RMRL saw a win the Tridents in the final minutes defeating the RM 34 to 32.
This year has started more positively and continues to progress. Navy RL, more through good luck than good management, secured the services of Mr Chris Anderson, a former Kangaroos and NRL Premiership winning coach and great player in his own right. Chris has been our coach for the two events so far this year and has indicated his commitment for the longer term.
Thus far this year Navy has played Air Force and Army at the 2016 Defence Competition held in Brisbane and Ipswich during March and the Royal Marines in an International Test Match at Cabramatta Leagues on 22 April. Navy defeated Air Force after the final siren 22 to 20 having scored a match levelling try in the final minute of the game. Unfortunately, we could not back up against Army. Six Navy players were selected to represent the Australian Defence Team in the Anzac Test Match on 6 May against the NZ Police Force which was a resounding victory to the ADF. Navy then had further success against the Royal Marines coming away winners 14 to 10 in a hard fought game.
Also in 2016 the Tridents played against a RAAF Wagga and Kapooka Army Barbarians Team in the LS Damien Rex Memorial Match, Wagga. The game was in memory of Damien Rex who sadly took his own life last year. This game had been a year in the making and had the support of Damien’s father, the Navy RL community and Wagga RL. The Tridents were outstanding in a 24-6 win.
Season 2017 so far
The RANRL Committee has seen a number of changes to begin 2017 and seeks to build long-term partnerships with businesses that can assist and encourage our continued growth and development into the future. In return we believe the RANRL offers new and exciting ways to promote your brand thus maximising the benefit of your involvement with Navy Rugby League.
The RANRL seeks to play curtain raisers to NRL matches where possible through its liaison with the Cronulla Sharks. In 2017 the Tridents participated in the Sgt M. Locke Charity Event. Navy played against a local Group 2 side in the lead up to the Army Thunder vs. Bellingen Magpies. On completion of the event a combined ADF Rugby League Team will be selected to represent the ADF at the Defence Forces World Cup set to run 7 - 16 July 2017.
Season 2017 will also see the Tridents playing NSW Corrective Services. The final event for 2017 will be a New Zealand tour in October playing the NZ Police Force as a warm up game then against the Royal NZ Navy.
Business Plan for RANRL
To promote the game of rugby league within the Navy and wider civilian community at all levels.
1. To develop Navy rugby league to the level, funding and standard whereby it can undertake annual international tours to compete against Defence Force rugby league teams from other nations in order to further develop the game within the RAN and overseas and to maximise promotional opportunities worldwide for our sponsors. The RANRL aims to a secure major corporate sponsor with the view of partnering with our sponsor well into the future;
2. To select and field a highly competitive team to perform to the highest of Navy traditions against Army, Air Force and International RL Teams;
3. To conduct yearly training and development camps with NRL sides to further improve our team and obtain further exposure for our sponsors; and
4. To develop rugby league players and coaching staff to achieve the above aims.