RUGBY returned to 45 Commando last week thanks to the dedication of organisers and players.
RM Condor and 45 Royal Marine Commando have had a long association with rugby union, but given their role in current operations the team had fallen by the wayside.
The Condor team was resuscitated by Corporal Graeme Ogg (35), from Monikie, a Royal Marine for the past 11 years and rugby player for more than 25 years.
He said: “Due to the high tempo of operations ongoing in Afghanistan, the men simply don’t have the time to invest in Unit Rugby, 10 years of Op Herricks takes its toll on sport.
“However, 45 have always had good rugby players and usually someone with an interest in Rugby Union invests a bit of time in the unit and puts a rugby team together, in this instance me.”
Graeme began his rugby career at Carnoustie High School, before advancing to the Former Pupils squad and then migrating to Panmure RFC for 10 years where he eventually became fitness coach.
Graeme explained how the team came to be revived, he said: “After I deployed on Herrick 14 last year, I decided to take the Unit Rugby team on once I came home, but only after some serious prompting by a friend of mine, Gary Jackman, an ex-marine and my predecessor in the role as Unit Team Coach.”
Graeme made the necessary arrangements with the unit physical training instructor, Sergeant Tony Bewick and his own boss, Captain Steve Lewis, and the commanding officer of 45 Commando, Lieutenant Colonel Mike Tanner.
Training sessions were held twice a week at Condor, but he struggled at first to put together a team.
He explained: “As with any team sport it has proven to be difficult to get lads to train, not due to them not wanting to, but because their life as a professional soldier is often busy and does not keep nice tidy timings.
“After a few false starts and a couple of no-shows I managed to get a strong team for last Tuesday night’s game.”
Through his affiliation with Panmure RFC, Graeme was able to organise a game against their 1st XV, a difficult fixture, especially as they had just won the league.
He commented: “45 have not lost a home game on Condor turf in 10 years. I had a lot to live up to. As a first game with myself in charge I loved it, and enjoyed winning, a strange feeling against my own home team!”
The final score was 17–10 to 45 Commando, and Panmure were hosted afterwards in the Sergeants’ Mess by Zulu Company Sergeant Major Leigh Anderson.
Sergeant Major Anderson said: “It was a very good game, and played well on both sides. It’s good to see local teams coming to Condor and enjoying our facilities and hospitality.
“We hope too have a fixture here in pre-season and a return fixture at Forthill.”
Panmure RFC captain, Gordon Melville, was presented with a unit ball as a token of appreciation. He said: “We won our league, but that is the hardest game we have played this season.”
Graeme hopes to be able to organise more fixtures against local sides in the near future.