Royal Navy Challenge Cup
The Royal Navy had a historic run at the Challenge Cup in 2022.

Top Five sporting moments that stood out in 2022

Royal Navy Challenge Cup
The Royal Navy had a historic run at the Challenge Cup in 2022.

Military sport made an astounding return in 2022 after two years of interruption due to the coronavirus pandemic – and what a year it was for military athletes across the board. 

From the Winter Olympics to the return of the Inter Services, there have been many great moments of success, as well as moments of heartbreak. 

We have taken a look back at some of the top sporting moments of 2022 and whittled that list down to five, as well as some honourable mentions. 

1. Luke Pollard wins gold at the Commonwealth Games

RAF Para-Triathlon guide Senior Aircraftsman Luke Pollard guided his teammate David Ellis to Commonwealth Games victory in Birmingham. 

The pair finished the triathlon four minutes faster than their closest rivals to take home the gold medal for England, which SAC Pollard described as "one of the proudest moments" of his life

Their victory in Birmingham came 12 months after their Paralympic disappointment in Tokyo after a bike chain broke mid-race, taking them out of contention for a medal. 

It goes without saying that their success at the Commonwealth Games has a well-earned place on our top sporting moments of 2022.

RAF Luke Pollard guiding David Ellis with their gold in the Commonwealth Games 2022 para-triathlon
RAF Luke Pollard guiding David Ellis to their gold in the Commonwealth Games 2022 para-triathlon (Picture: MOD).

2. Army men and women win thrilling matches at Twickenham

The Army Rugby Union enjoyed storming success at the annual Army v Navy clash at Twickenham, with the men and women besting their Navy rivals in two exciting fixtures at the home of English rugby. 

After a two-year break due to Covid-19, these clashes proved to be a huge celebration of the return of military sport after the event was cancelled twice in two years. 

For the men, this clash was where the reds sealed their Inter Services title after a close battle with their Navy rivals, with a close 35-27 win. 

This year was the first time the women's Army v Navy match was played at Twickenham, and the Army continued their 100% record in Inter Services matches against the Navy with a dominant 68-0 win over the Navy to secure their Inter Services win. 

Next year's fixtures are due to be played on the 13 May 2023, after the date had to be rescheduled as the original fixture date clashed with King Charles III's coronation.

Army trumph at Twickenham
The Army men celebrate their victory over the Navy at Twickenham (Picture: Alligin Photography).

3. Amy Cokayne scores hat-trick in Rugby World Cup final

It was heartbreak for Simon Middleton's team who threw everything at the Black Ferns to stop the tournament hosts from retaining their World Cup title. 

But RAF and Harlequins star Amy Cokayne scored an incredible hat-trick in the final, with three tries against tough opposition from the Black Ferns.

Despite losing out on the World Cup title with a 34-31 loss to New Zealand, Cokayne's contributions to England's efforts made her one of the stand-out players in the final. 

Cokayne recently told Forces Sport that England "still could have won that game" despite a red card and finding themselves at a player disadvantage against New Zealand.

Amy Cokayne
Amy Cokayne scores three tries in the World Cup Final against New Zealand (Picture: Alligin Photography).

4. Royal Navy Rugby League progresses to fourth round of Challenge Cup for the first time

In their 25th year, the Royal Navy Rugby League made history by reaching the fourth round of the Challenge Cup. 

They did so by beating Premier Conference side York Acorn 22-8 in a match where the Navy successfully broke down York Acorn's defence to take the victory. 

Their historic Challenge Cup came to an end a fortnight later though, when they were soundly beaten by the Batley Bulldogs 66-6.

Their Head Coach, Petty Officer Steve Lockton, said the Navy's Challenge Cup success was "massive for military rugby" and that it "speaks volumes" to service rugby in general. 

The Royal Navy would go on to win the Rugby League Inter Services title later on in the year. 

Navy Rugby League
The Royal Navy Rugby League celebrate their third-round win at the Challenge Cup.

5. Forces well-represented in Bobsleigh at the Winter Olympics in Beijing

The pinnacle of the Winter Sport calendar showed great UK Armed Forces representation with three athletes representing their respective countries in the Bobsleigh events at the Winter Olympics in Beijing. 

The Army's Nick Gleeson competed in the two-man Bobsleigh event alongside driver Brad Hall where they placed 11 overall after the Germans dominated the event. 

Gleeson was joined by Royal Marine Taylor Lawrence in the four-man event, alongside Brad Hall and Greg Cackett, where they placed six overall. 

The RAF's Shanwayne Stephens represented Jamaica in the same event, placing 30 in the two-man event and 28 in the four-man event. This is the first time Jamaica have had a four-man bobsleigh compete at the Winter Olympics since 1988, which was the team that inspired the Cool Runnings film.

Shanwayne Stephens was awarded RAF Sportsman of the Year for his participation in the games and, similarly, Taylor Lawrence was named Royal Navy Sportsman of the Year

GB bobsleigh
Brad Hall, Nick Gleeson, Taylor Lawrence and Greg Cackett compete in the four-man bobsleigh in Beijing (Picture: IBSF).

Honourable mentions

There has been some fantastic sporting success across the services in 2022 and here are some we thought deserved a mention.

The men and women from RAF Football winning the Inter Services titles with the men dominating the Army with a resounding 4-1 win and the women also beating the Army 2-0 to take the women's title. 

British Army veteran Micky Yules winning bronze in the para-powerlifting at the Commonwealth Games for Scotland in Birmingham. The former staff sergeant Royal Engineer lost both his legs in a blast in Afghanistan in 2010.

Former British Army soldier James Simpson helped England to Wheelchair Rugby League victory at the Rugby League World Cup, where they beat reigning champions France 28-24 in a thrilling final

The Royal Navy Rugby U23s dominated the Rugby Union Inter Services, where they inflicted a heavy defeat on the Army 44-3 in Aldershot to clinch the Inter Services title. 

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