Defeat For British Army Women In Historic Barbarians Clash
It was a historic first for the recently-formed Barbarians women's side, playing its first fixture on British soil...
The British Army women's rugby union team has been beaten 37-0 in a historic match against the newly-formed Barbarians women's side in Aldershot.
It was the forces players' final match before they defend their Inter-Services title next month but they found it tough going against a team loaded with internationals.
For the recently-launched Barbarians women's side, it was history in the making as they played their first fixture on British soil.
Their decision to face the British Army, meanwhile, was testament to the high regard the rugby community has for the military in helping to develop the women's game.
Depleted by deployment, injury and a Commonwealth Games call-up meant the Army wasn't at full strength.
Up against an illustrious 'Baa-Baas' outfit, fielding a side with over 700 international caps between them, was always going to be a challenge and the visitors took the lead inside the first five minutes.
A sustained assault on the Army line eventually resulted in an unconverted try for Saracens player Katherine Evans. She crashed over to put her side 5-0 up.
The lead was then doubled thanks to one of those fleet-of-foot efforts for which the Barbarians are famed.
Kayla McAlister plucked out Elen Evans and the winger, capped 73 times by Wales, dashed home for an unconverted try.
More of the same followed minutes later and this time it was Bristol and England winger Sydney Gregson who gave the Army defence the slip, galloping in for a converted try to help the Barbarians establish a 17-0 advantage.
Gregson was on hand for her second try and her team's fourth. She ghosted past would-be tacklers with ease.
There was more misery for the military side in a demanding first 40 minutes.
Irish international Nora Stapleton put in a cross-field kick that Gregson eventually gathered. Then it was a simple task of the ball finding its way to Jess Wooden for try number five.
Elen Evans was indebted to the Irish fly-half as she notched up her second try. A majestic, measured pass from Stapleton flew into the bread basket and the Baa-Baas were out of sight at 32-0.
The visitors did add to their score in the second half but not by much. German second row Nora Baltruweit touched down for the only points after the break.
The match was the Army's last before it embarks on the Inter-Services campaign.
Though much of it was spent on the back foot, the women in red will be ready for whatever the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy have to throw at them next month.
A 37-0 defeat against top-class opposition may not be the scoreline they had hoped for but the Army players will pick themselves up before they play the RAF on April 11.