Commando training on Gareloch for Scotland’s rugby boys and girls
43 Commando Royal Marines and Scottish Rugby Academy members swap stories and enjoy lunch round the camp fire.
A total of 27 of the Scottish Rugby Academy’s male and female players and six staff joined 43 Commando Fleet Protection Group Royal Marines at the event in Garelochhead Training Camp.
The players came from across the Academy’s regions, including The Borders and East Lothian, Caledonia, Glasgow & The West and Edinburgh.
The session was the latest in the ongoing partnership between the Royal Marines and Scottish Rugby; now in its third year. The collaboration is aimed at developing the players’ leadership qualities and high-performance behaviours, by learning from the ‘Commando Mindset’ and their world-renowned values and standards.
The day’s action started on water with the players being transported into the training area by Offshore Raiding Craft. Despite a few feet getting wet, the group were then speed-marched uphill by 43 Commando’s Physical Training Instructor Sergeant ‘Benny’ Benson – where the day’s real challenges started.
Scottish Rugby Academy team assemble the “field gun” after completing a series of sprinting shuttles. Pictures by the Royal Navy
Split into groups, the players had three team challenges to complete. Firstly, to test their resourcefulness, they were tasked by 43 Commando’s Mountain Leader Sergeant ‘Bruce’ Willis – with building a shelter, along with learning core ‘green skills’ such as maintaining a fire.
Next up was a troop attack against an enemy, using Airsoft training weapons. The techniques taught by the Commandos were strikingly similar to those needed on the rugby pitch; the emphasis of this evolution was on communication and coordination of movement across the line.
The final stance involved blending both physical and mental challenges. A ‘field-gun’ was assembled after sprinting shuttles with the individual components. The team then had to carry one of their players on a one-mile stretcher run; intentionally longer than they were initially briefed to test their mental resilience. Finally, a practical leadership puzzle had to be completed, testing their mental agility despite being fatigued and under time pressure.
In the middle of all the action, there was a brief chance to take on some energy and learn about operational nutrition in the form of a 12-hour ration pack. The lunch break around the camp fire also allowed the Academy players to share experience with their Royal Marine peers; some of them currently playing rugby at Service and Inter-Service levels.
Grant McKelvey, Scottish Rugby’s Talent ID Manager, said: “The players took a lot out of the experience and it was a good way for them to meet their peers.”
The one-day training event served as an introductory session for the players, who will go on to attend a multi-day event at 45 Commando in Arbroath early next year.
Members of the Scottish Rugby Academy are taken out on the water as part of their training day with 43 Commando Royal Marines.