Rugby Union

Meet Bath Rugby's Military Men Looking To Climb Premiership Table

Two military men say they are hoping to help take Bath to new heights when the domestic rugby union season gets underway.

Army player, Lance Corporal Semesa Rokoduguni has been in the ranks at the Premiership club since 2012, and is now joined by the RAF's Corporal Josh McNally, who has moved from London Irish.

Rokoduguni had a frustrating last season, having been hit by injury.

The England international suffered posterior cruciate ligament damage against Newcastle Falcons, but will be fit for the start of this year's campaign.

The 2019/20 season gets underway later than usual, due to the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

England's Semesa Rokoduguni (left) and Samoa's Tim Nanai-Williams during a match at Twickenham
Semesa Rokoduguni (left) playing for England at Twickenham in 2017 (Picture: PA).

Rokoduguni has become a popular figure with the fans at the club and likes the pressure that comes with it.

He said: "As soon as they put my name on the team list, you can see on Twitter and Instagram that people messaging about scoring tries for the team.

“I will do my best. I’m not going to promise anything.

“There’s always room for improvement. With the new coaching set-up here, they have been giving more feedback for ways that I can improve my game.

"Hopefully, I’ll put that to the test in the next couple of weeks."

The Army lance corporal is keen for his side to improve on their sixth-placed finish in the 2018/19 season.

"For us as a team, the way we have finished over the past few seasons in mid-table is not good enough anymore," Rokoduguni said.

"The players are working really hard and the coaches are bringing in new stuff in to help the team to where they need to be."

Bath's Semesa Rokoduguni scoring a try during their European Challenge Cup quarter final against Brive
Semesa Rokoduguni has been with Bath since 2012 (Picture: PA).

He said he is happy that another military man has joined the ranks at Bath in Josh McNally.

"Someone was telling me that somebody from the Armed Forces was coming," Rokoduguni said.

"I didn’t know who he was.

"He’s a top bloke, isn’t he?

"It’s not only us. There are a few more players out there representing the military in the game environment.

"That shows what the Armed Forces can provide."

Rokoduguni is also happy that another military man has joined the ranks at Bath in McNally.
Rokoduguni is also happy that another military man has joined the ranks at Bath in McNally.

Second-row McNally captained London Irish to promotion last term but had agreed to leave the club in January, and is looking forward to his new challenge at 'The Rec'.

"I’ve settled in really well. I’ll be honest though: it’s been pretty tough," he said.

“They really want to break the mould now for what Bath have been over the past few years.

"It’s been nice to be around and there is no better place than this to train."

Bath's first Premiership fixture of the season is a trip to Bristol on Friday 18 October.

The UKAF team meanwhile has made it to the final of the International Defence Rugby Competition, beating the French military team 39-12 in Japan.

A final against Fiji awaits the side on Monday.

Josh McNally
Josh McNally agreed to join Bath during the 2018/19 Premiership season.

Twenty-nine-year-old corporal has been a major part of the RAF’s team for the past few years.

McNally won the Air Force’s Sportsman of the Year in 2018 - the same year in which he made his comeback following heart surgery.

He thinks the sporting talent in the forces will rise to the top.

“I think we have always said that there is a massive military presence around," he said.

“There is a massive wealth of talent within the military. It is just about trying to get these people into these opportunities and taking them."