Rugby Union

Hopes Rugby Union Inter Services Will Go Ahead Despite Twickenham Cancellation

Commander Gary Bushell spoke to Forces News to explain the cancellation and what could be next for military rugby union.

The "intent" is to play an Inter Services Championship in 2021, according to the Army-Navy Committee Chairman,  Commander Gary Bushell.

It comes after the announcement that the showpiece Army vs Navy matches would not be played at Twickenham Stadium for the second straight year.

However, an adapted version of the game could see a tri-service tournament still take place.

Cdr Bushell said: "The intent is to still play the Inter Services Championships but, as I alluded to, the likelihood is that will be under the adapted laws.

"Playing a fixture other than Twickenham under the adapted laws, where there wouldn’t be the overhead and costs involved with that, would allow that to happen.

"You’re not so dependent on having as many spectators as permissible there.

"There is a possibility, and that’s the intent of all of the services, that they will play an Inter Services Championships.

"Decisions regarding that can be made much closer to the time and doesn’t need to have the long run-in that we need for the Army-Navy game because, of course, there’s all the marketing pieces that surround that as well."

Regarding the Twickenham cancellation, Cdr Bushell explained why the decision was made.

An U23s Inter Services Championship was not able to be played this year.

He said: "We thought it was fair to, as much as anyone else, the spectator base to manage their expectations of what might be happening.

"We did encounter last year that there were people that, quite understandably, do this as part of their annual routine and had booked travel, hotels and were unable to gain any compensation for that.

"Not only to that community but also to the service community as well, and the player base to manage their expectations going forward, too.

"There are people sat there now who would have considered we’d have gone through an under-23s championship as part of the build-up and as part of the structured season. That hasn’t taken place.

"We’re not in a position, either, that we are able to play the full game so it’s got to be the adapted version as things stand," he added.

"Building all those things in meant that actually it was better to get complete understanding by all of where we were, and that’s why we’ve made the decision and made the announcement with the full understanding and collaboration of the RFU too."