Canalathon 2016 – 10th September 2016

On the 10th September 2016, seven members of Wales URNU and two training officers set out on a 35-mile endurance race along the Monmouthshire, Brecon, and Abergavenny canal. We entered a competitive team and a social team. The first part of the challenge was a 5-mile canoe section which started at a drizzly Pontymoile. Both teams started out strongly despite of the weather (and a slight lack of canoeing experience) and finished within several minutes of each other. A strong start for Wales URNU.

Lieutenant Roberts, our team manager and motivator was waiting for us at the next stage with bikes, ready to take on the 17-mile mountain bike stage. This proved to be our strongest stage, powering along the canal side. It being flat may have been the reason for this being our strongest stage, however we all preferred to put it down to skill and practice. During this stage the heavens opened and despite being soaked through we all continued and put in good times despite mud constantly flying in our faces and encountering a few low bridges which posed a slight problem for the competitive team who had an average height of about 6ft. Ninety minutes and 17 miles later we reached Llangynider where we were met by Lieutenant Roberts who gave us all some much-needed refreshments which had been kindly provided by Mrs Roberts. The flapjacks were especially popular!

After fuelling ourselves with Soreen and dried fruit we set out on the 11-mile run which wasn’t our strongest event, perhaps from a slight lack of training, but each team supported each other, we even witnessed the slowest overtake as we spent 10 minutes alongside another team as they tried to run past us, but were also equally as tired. Finally, after bad weather all day the sun had started to come out and we were welcomed at the finish line two hours later by glorious sunshine, with the competitive team finishing 7th out of 16.  After 35 miles, we were certainly all ready to go back home for tea and medals.

Overall the day was a fantastic experience with everyone having enjoyed themselves. Special thanks go out to Lieutenant Roberts for giving up his day to support us, and making sure we were at the right places with the right kit and keeping us well fed and watered! Thanks also go out to Navs who also gave up his day to support us all.

Wales URNU will be returning for the Canalathon 2017.

WURNU Sports Weekend 2016

On the weekend of the 19th-21st February, 3 minibus-loads of Wales URNU students arrived in Portsmouth to take part in the annual URNU Sports Weekend.  Quickly settling into HMS Bristol, it was off to Temeraire to play some friendly matches of netball and rugby, against other URNUs before attending the URNU Golden Jubilee Dinner at HMS Nelson.

The Jubilee Dinner was a lovely occasion in a superb venue and one of the only times that representatives of all 14 URNUs have attended a mess dinner together. It was a fantastic opportunity to socialise and get to know some of the other URNU students, as well as catch up with some old acquaintances. Commander University was the Guest of Honour.  He made a speech about the importance of URNU and where he sees it in the future.


The following day we launched ourselves into a full-on weekend of sport, kicking off with our first rugby match against Manchester. We lost 10-0, and the team regrouped and prepared for the next match. Next we played hockey, and lost 2-0, putting us into the Plate for both sports. Finally we had a netball match, which cheered team spirits after a 23-1 victory over Edinburgh.

The rowing also took place on the Saturday and, after heroic efforts, AO/C Ellis and AO/C Ryan took home the rowing cup for WURNU – a great achievement.


The rugby team played a second match against a strong Bristol team, and lost 5-0, putting them out of the Plate.


That evening we had a social, with the theme of musicals. Wales chose Bugsy Malone, and we were an intimidating force of gangsters and floozies to be reckoned with.

On the final day of sports, the hockey team played Edinburgh and, with a confident performance, beat them 2-0. This put us into the Plate final against Yorkshire. Spirits were high and we had improved game upon game as a team. Some excellent individual goals from AO/C Nightingale and Mid Newton secured the win for us in the final.


In our second netball match we played Liverpool. Excellent teamwork and accurate shooting from AO/C Dodd meant we won 18-11, putting us into the Cup semi-final against Bristol. It was a close fought first half of netball, but Bristol widened the gap in the second half, leading to a 13-8 win.


We also played our first match of football, which we lost 2-0, and unfortunately it was a knock-out competition.  The Bucketball match was extremely close, matching goal for goal until the last few seconds, when Liverpool snatched victory away from us.


Overall we finished 6th place out of 14 Units, won the hockey plate, won the rowing, and got to the Cup semi-finals in netball.  This means we have no organising responsibilities next year, which our Command team were pleased to hear.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable weekend, and the units’ team spirits and support never faltered. There were some excellent individual and team performances and everyone involved upheld the high standards expected of Wales URNU.


This included the dragon mascot who, in his enthusiasm, did suffer some wing damage towards the end of the weekend, but nothing that can’t be repaired before next year!

Alumni Sports Day

Saturday brought anticipation for many as the 0900 start drew near and the teams convened at the Talybont Hockey pitch. Wales URNU and their alumni were in force and good spirits ready for the first match.

Wales URNU and Bristol played their first match with A/OC Nightingale scoring the goal which clinched the 1-0 victory over Bristol. Bristol and WURNU alumni then took to the pitch where Bristol won 1-0. To finish the hockey, Wales URNU took on their Alumni and came away with a 2-0 win. Here A/OC Nightingale had scored again with OC Newton scoring the other goal. Hockey team captain OC Munson reflected that: “the team played very well with great communication throughout. We’re looking hopeful for sports weekend!”. Following this successful start to the day, Wales URNU hopes were high for the remaining matches.

All parties made their way to Blackweir pitches, so the rugby could begin. WURNU, as keen as ever, started with some pre-match exercises. Out of the two matches played, the combined Alumni/Bristol team won against Wales with a 31-0 victory, although not as resounding as the 84-7 victory the alumni scored against the WURNU team in the following match. The team did manage to score one consolation try when A/OC Moore scored from a pick and go; which was then converted by A/OC Nightingale. Rugby team captain A/OC Withers said: “as disappointing as it was to lose, we have to remember it was our first game, and we were up against some great players. We now know what needs to be improved, and by sports weekend we’ll be ready!”

Bucketball followed the rugby and was played in true WURNU style with the motto “If they can take it, you can give it” emanating clearly. Unfortunately, a WURNU win was not seen, although some great ‘contact’ games were played with OC Myrans being sent off for her tackling prowess. Alumni won 6-4 to WURNU, Alumni 11-0 to Bristol and Bristol 6-3 to WURNU.

Leaving the rugby pitches with many just a little muddy, we returned to Talybont for the final matches of the day. Arriving in good time for the 1400 start, meant the teams could have a well-deserved stop at the social before proceeding to the netball.

WURNU, keen again, started with some shooting and practice passes in their pre-match warm up. Alumni and Bristol ‘kicked-off’ the netball with Alumni winning 11-9. It proved a very interesting match for the WURNU team to watch, identifying the opposition’s game play. Primed and ready for action WURNU tackled (although not literally – it is a non-contact sport after all) their alumni and played a strong game. Although the WURNU team suffered a 4-7 defeat, their hopes were high for the match against Bristol. This next match was especially close, with goals scored in rapid succession by both teams. Bristol clinched it by 8 goals to 6. Team Captain A/OC Davies said: “they were two close matches against strong opposition. We improved every half, and the only weakness these games showed was our lack of practice as a team. There were some really good individual performances from the girls, everyone has improved massively since our first training session, in particular those who haven’t played for a while. On the whole, a good practice run for sports weekend, which highlighted things to work on, but also had a lot of positives to take away. I’m very proud of the whole team!”

With the sports over, the day progressed into the evening social which was a great chance to catch up with and get to know the alumni as well as the Bristol team. Starting in the North Star, progressing to O’Neill’s for dinner followed by Bierkeller and of course the infamous Live Lounge to bring the evening to a close.

Fortunately, this weekend only saw one (known) injury with A/OC Pugh-Evans ‘losing’ a knuckle. Of course, any losses were purely tactical in order to lull Bristol into a false sense of security for Sports Weekend. Thank you to everyone who made this such an enjoyable and successful day of sports, and to A/OC Cleaver for organising. The WURNU students are definitely all looking forward to what should prove to be a brilliant weekend of sport and competition in just a couple of weeks where hopefully we will come away victorious.

A/OC Killick


Sports Report – A/OC Withers, Rugby Captain & Sports Rep

This year’s sports season started off at the universities’ Freshers Fayres, where many talented individuals from various sporting backgrounds were encouraged to sign up, and are now a vital part of Wales URNU. The recruits are very keen to get stuck into the variety of sports the unit has to offer, including: rugby, netball, hockey, sailing, rowing and bucketball.

The Rugby team in particular has gained some valuable players, resulting in a strong starting seven, who will be sure to put up a good fight at the URNU Sports Weekend. Unfortunately, due to the few females recruited this year the netball team has suffered with low numbers, however the team still contains players that put up a star performance reaching the cup finals last year, so should not be underestimated! The hockey team has also gained some new players with experience at county level, which are sure to build on the skills of the team which largely remains unchanged from last year.

Training this year has gotten off to a great start, particularly with Rugby. Within a few training sessions, the team is up to scratch with all the moves and calls, showing great promise for the upcoming tournaments. Lending a hand as always is Club Captain Lt Jim Hawkins, who recently organised a training session with Jimmy Deane, a seasoned Bath first team rugby player, and founder of ‘Sporting Family Change’. For this the team travelled down to Bath to train on a 3G pitch, where our handling, scrummage and rooking skills were put to the test.

With University workloads starting to mount up, and a much busier URNU schedule, training from all teams has died down slightly, but fitness sessions are routinely taking place, with regular circuits sessions at Roath Park and Swansea Waterfront. A few students have also been selected to attend the ETL (previously the Small Ship’s PTI) course next term, which aims will give students a greater knowledge and understanding of leading fitness sessions.

Preparations for the January Alumni Sports Weekend are well underway. This annual event has now run for three years, and pits current Wales URNU students against alumni and Bristol URNU for a successful day of sports, in which Wales URNU emerge victorious, ready for a great night out showing our guests what Cardiff has to offer.

Not long after the Alumni event is the annual URNU Sports Weekend held in Portsmouth. This will see all 14 URNUs across the country bring their A-games and mascots to compete for silverware and bragging rights in numerous sports. It is a very competitive and social weekend, and by far one the most enjoyable experiences you can have in the URNU.