Most teams make their way to Singapore for Asia’s oldest international rugby tournament by air. This year, one team sailed in.
CAPTION: Craftsman Mathew Kelly, passes the ball during the 73rd Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby Sevens Tournament. Story by Lieutenant Amy Johnson. Photo by Leading Seaman Nadav Harel.
Twelve personnel embarked in HMAS Adelaide for Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2022 (IPE22) donned their rugby jerseys to play in the Singapore Cricket Club International Rugby Sevens.
Fun was the focus of the tournament after a three-year hiatus caused by COVID-19, but competition on the field was fierce.
Teams fought hard across the two days of close matches, but in the end, the Adelaide team was victorious, defeating Japanese team Kurumi 12-5.
The tournament featured 12 teams from across the globe, including New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Japan, Singapore and Australia.
While proud of the team’s efforts on the field, team coach Lieutenant Robert Drinkwater said the day wasn’t about winning but about cultural exchange.
“IPE22 is about engagement, relationships and being friends in the Indo-Pacific. What better than being able to express that through sport?” he said.
The combination of Navy, Army and Air Force personnel together in Adelaide for IPE22 provided a unique opportunity to put together the winning team.
“Just from the ship’s company we might not have the people, but when we expand that to include embarked forces and all of the other elements, we have over 1000 people on board. We just needed 12 individuals,” Lieutenant Drinkwater said.
Exceptionally high levels of coordination and teamwork on the field belied the fact the team had never played together before the first day of the tournament.
The mixed service team played together as Adelaide, their shared home during IPE22.
“Adelaide has been our home and will be our home for a number of weeks, so it’s appropriate we are playing under the ship’s name,” Lieutenant Drinkwater said.
Lieutenant Drinkwater is no stranger to rugby, having spent more than 20 years in sport before commencing his Navy career.
He was assistant coach to the England Women’s National World Rugby Cup Team and worked for Australian Rugby Union for three years.
He said he felt fortunate to be able to combine his passion for sport with his Navy service.
“Being able to come to work each day as a human resources officer and then being able to do some rugby as well on the side, it keeps the passion burning for something I’ve spent a lot of time in my life doing,” Lieutenant Drinkwater said.