Caption for image: Photo3: Corporal Aaron James in action NZ Army vs. Navy 2011-09-21
21 September 2011
The NZ Defence Force rugby team is about to begin its campaign to be the first Defence force team to win the inaugural International Defence Rugby Competition (IDRC) 2011. Linton-based physical training instructor, Corporal Aaron James has been named captain of the 29-man squad comprising the best defence force rugby players from the Royal NZ Air Force, NZ Army & the Royal NZ Navy.
The IDRC 2011 aims to bring international rugby playing defence forces together in union through rugby. Teams from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, United Kingdom, France, China, Samoa, Tonga, and Papua New Guinea will all be competing for top honours in a first for Defence Forces rugby.
The former Lincoln High School and St Andrews College student, known as “AJ” knows full well what it is like to compete at national and provincial levels. He has played for the Manawatu Turbos NPC team in 2007-2009 seasons and has spent almost 10 years in the NZ Army rugby scene. However, given this is the first IDRC there is no history of the strengths or weaknesses of the other teams involved. “Representing our Defence Force’s black jersey at the international level is indeed a great privilege and honour, particularly at an event such as this,” he said.
The twelve teams are split into four pools of three. The NZ Defence Force team has drawn the Papua New Guinea (PNG) Defence Force and the Royal Air Force (RAF) team from the UK in their pool. “We don’t know much about the PNG and RAF teams but we aren’t taking anything for granted. We take on PNG in our first game on 5 October and then the RAF team on 8 October. Our aim is to win our pool first and win the Quarter Final game in Sydney on 13 October. Success there will mean we make the top four to travel to NZ for the semi finals and hopefully the finals in Auckland.”
The pool matches will be hosted by the Australian Defence force in Sydney and Canberra from 1–15 October. The top four teams will then fly to NZ to be hosted by the NZ Defence Force in Auckland for the semi finals at the North Shore RFC and the finals at the Auckland Universities Club on 18 and 22 October respectively.
“I’m very proud to be leading the NZDF rugby team into the competition. It makes the tournament all that more exciting because we don’t know what lies ahead of us,” said AJ.
For further information please contact Squadron Leader Kavae Tamariki, NZDF IDRC Communications Manager, on 04 496 0294 or 021 420 899.