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By ARU Media Unit
The Australian Defence Force (ASRU) have echoed the efforts of their Wallaby counterparts in reaching the Semi-finals of the International Defence Rugby Competition, after yesterday having little trouble disposing of the Royal Air Force 53-5.
Australia’s colleagues, and the Wallabies opponents this weekend, from across the ditch – New Zealand – were tipped as favourites for the competition and expected to cruise through to the semi-finals for a home play-off series next week in Auckland. However, a slip-up yesterday in their final Pool game against Tongan Defence Services (TDS) 27-26 means the Kiwi side will miss the finals.
The tournament, which has been held across both Canberra and Sydney in the past week, has seen Defence Force teams from around the world battle it out – on the Rugby field – for the chance to travel to Auckland to compete in the knock-out stages, next Tuesday, in the lead up to the Rugby World Cup final at Eden Park next Sunday (Oct 23).
The ASRU, who were grouped in Pool A along with the TDS and China – People’s Liberation Army (PLA), will next week meet the Samoan Police (SP) in the first semi-final with the British Army (BA) scheduled to meet the TDS in the second play-off for a chance to play in the Final a day before the RWC decider.
With the ASRU qualifying for the knock-out stages, they join the Wallabies as the only two nations to be competing in their respective competition’s semi-finals.
Five of the current Wallabies Rugby World Cup squad, in New Zealand aiming to “Bring Back Bill” for a record third time, were on hand when the ASRU were in Canberra on May 18th as they took part in their annual Inter-Services Rugby Day. Rocky Elsom, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Steven Moore and Saia and Ant Fainga’a were in the stands as the Army, Navy and Air Force took the field to compete for places in the side to compete at the International Defence Competition.
ACT Brumbies lock Mitch Chapman and team-mate, and Australian Under 20s captain, Colby Fainga’a were also on hand on the day to watch on as the Army beat Air Force 74-0.
Chapman and Moore, who were coached at School-level, by Army’s Head Coach Angus Baker were asked to present the jerseys to the side prior to the 74-point thrashing of their flying-friends and addressed the troops before the match.
In an almost identical-swap for Chapman and Moore’s assistance, the Wallabies were presented with their jerseys, prior to the Tri Nations decider at Suncorp last month, by Victoria Cross recipients Ben Roberts-Smith and Mark Donaldson.
Australian Rugby Union, on behalf of all across the nation, would like to extend both their congratulations and best wishes to the ASRU as they – like the Wallabies – enter the must-win stage of the competition in Auckland.