From The Vaults

25 April 2022
#FromTheVaults - Navy badge, 1922

As the rugby teams of the British Army and the Royal Navy prepare for their return to Twickenham this coming weekend, we have decided to highlight this one-hundred-year-old cloth badge which was worn by Navy scrum-half Cecil Kershaw.

In 1878, the Royal Navy fielded their first representative rugby team against the Army at the Kennington Oval. This became an annual fixture in 1907, when the match was played at the Queen's Club in West Kensington, and in 1920 the competition was expanded to include a team from the Royal Air Force. Today, the Army Navy Match is one of three annual matches that comprise the Inter-Services Championship.

The 1922 Army Navy Match was the third win for the Navy since the post-war resumption of the fixture in 1920. In all three of these matches, the Navy team featured one of England's most celebrated half-back partnerships - fly-half WJA 'Dave' Davies and scrum-half Cecil Kershaw. Davies, who captained the Navy side in 1922, had served aboard HMS Iron Duke and the Grand Fleet Flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth during the First World War. He played for England on twenty-two occasions. Kershaw, who wore this badge, served as a Royal Navy submariner. He achieved sixteen international caps and also represented Great Britain in fencing at the Olympic Games in 1920 and 1924. Kershaw earned fourteen of his sixteen caps alongside Davies and together they never lost a game for England.

The Army started well, and during the first half, their intense forward play subdued the Navy's experienced pack. The Army opened the scoring with a try but missed the conversion. The scores were then levelled when the Navy kicked a penalty goal awarded for an offside infringement at a scrum. In the second half, fortune turned in favour of the Navy team: after receiving quick ball from Kershaw, Davies struck a drop goal which took them into the lead. The score was 7-3 at full-time, and with their 9-6 victory over the RAF, the Navy were declared Inter-Services Champions.

One hundred years on, Twickenham Stadium will host the 103rd Army Navy Match for the men's teams and the 18th Match for the women's teams. This will be the first time that the women's game has been held at Twickenham. The Army has registered more wins in both the men's and women's series, but which team will be victorious this year?