The attached letter covers behaviour before, during and after the Army vs Navy rugby match. It outlines the disappointment of the last year, how out of line the behaviour is with civilian matches and how important it is to get the message out to the wider Regimental family. It has been deliberately sent out early to allow it to be sent out along the Regimental network and to allow those attending to set expectations accordingly.
Please ensure that it is passed on and reinforced. It is a great day, a brilliant reunion and a wonderful sporting event which attracts national-level interest. We must protect and preserve such an iconic event by reinforcing the need to behave and uphold the law.
Brig M J Gamble
Head Arms & Services | HQ Home Command | Montgomery House | Floor 2, Zone 2 | Queen’s Ave | Aldershot | GU11 2JN
- The Army and Royal Navy Rugby Unions will compete for the Babcock Trophy at Twickenham on 4 May 2019. This will be the 102nd match. We now routinely fill the stadium to capacity - from 40,000 spectators in 2012 to 82,000 at each of the last three matches. The event is hugely popular, televised on Sky Sports and generates revenue which is put directly back into the game to support its future development. It is a uniquely high-profile occasion which enhances our reputation.
- Our purpose in writing out now, fully 7 months in advance, is to seek to address some behaviours that undermine our aim of celebrating some of the best aspects of service life. The police report from this year’s game makes for particularly disappointing reading. We are significantly out of kilter with civilian behaviour at all the other matches that take place at Twickenham. It appears that behaviour within the stadium grounds has improved over recent years; good. But behaviours in the general vicinity prior to, during and after the match - in service stations, train stations, pubs and clubs - give significant cause for concern. "Traditions" of alcohol-fuelled travel to the event, particularly those on coaches and transiting service stations, do little to help. The event is becoming increasingly resource intensive due to an augmented requirement for policing and the ensuing clean-up operation.
- So we need to act. First, and on advice of the Metropolitan Police, Twickenham Council and Rugby Football Union, we have directed that we will no longer hold preliminary matches at Kneller Hall on the same day. Second, we have brought forward Kick Off to 1400hrs with bar timings tailored appropriately. Third, we ask that you consider the means of travel of those attending and put in place appropriate measures that consign offensive public acts of urination and vomiting to the past. And finally, recognising that indiscipline does not stem exclusively from serving service personnel, we ask that this letter is communicated through Regimental and Veterans' Associations to ensure that they understand that they too have a part to play.
- We are passionate about this historic and prestigious annual sporting event. We wish it to serve as an affirmation of our shared commitment to generating professional teams that compete fiercely and demonstrate physical robustness, courage and commitment. In sum, the battle-winning qualities that we promote and develop in our people. So, let us work proactively to stamp out indiscipline off the field and work to generate an overwhelming atmosphere of positivity that celebrates camaraderie and the best of service life.
 The Navy v RAF match will be held at Harlequins on 5 Apr 19. The Army v RAF match will be held on 27 Apr 19 at Gloucester.