The Cossack Sword was presented to the Royal Navy Rugby Union by former player and selector, Captain Leigh Merrick Royal Navy and first awarded in 2000. The sword is for “Ground Gained and Held” and awarded at the end of each season to the player, from the Royal Navy Senior XV, whose performances over the course of the season best meet the battling qualities invoked by the heritage of the “Cossack Warrior”.
Leigh Merrick won 14 caps between 1968 and 1979 winning the Inter Service title twice in 1970 and 1974. Leigh was the 407th player to represent the Royal Navy Rugby Union and was made captain for the 1970-71 season. In 1991 he became the NavyRugby Selector a position he held for three seasons. Away from rugby he served as the Defence Attaché in Moscow and therefore his choice of trophy was made from a position of deep understanding and appreciation of the values of the Coassack that he also saw within the players that represent the Navy. In 2008 the awarded was voted on by the players to become the player’s player of the year and this helped cement this unique trophy as for many the most prestigious trophy in the Royal Navy Rugby Union.
Its first recipient was apposite in being the Navy’s most capped player Bob Armstrong. An award that I am sure Leigh would have thoroughly have approved of. It was not until 2006 that the award was presented outside of the pack which was the year when Navy fly half / full back Rob Lloyd was the deserved winner. So far only one player has won the trophy on more than the single occasion and that is Marsh Cormack. With Sam Laird winning the sword in 2012 he became the first player to win both the Proud Heritage Exciting Future Trophy and the Cossack Sword. The 2014 winner was blindside flanker / lock forward Matt Harvey. He became the first player to win the Cossack Sword in his first season of representative rugby with the Royal Navy.
|Year||The 'Leigh Merrick' Cossack Sword Winner|
|2019||Greg Loydall - Fly Half|
|2018||Sam Matavesi - Flanker|
|2017||Ben Fox - Flanker|
|2016||Edd Pascoe - Lock|
|2015||Dave Fairbrother - Number 8|
|2014||Matt Harvey - Flanker|
|2013||Dom Taylor - Flanker|
|2012||Sam Laird - Openside Flanker|
|2011||Ben Priddey - Hooker|
|2010||Marsh Cormack - Second Row|
|2009||Calum McRae - Centre|
|2008||Andrew 'Les' Dennis - Openside Flanker|
|2007||Dave Pascoe - Scrum Half|
|2006||Rob Lloyd - Fly Half|
|2005||Greg Barden - Full Back|
|2004||Marsh Cormack - Second Row|
|2003||Nick Barlett - Loosehead Prop|
|2002||Jim WIlliams - Winger|
|2001||Andy Perry - Number 8|
|2000||Bob Armstrong - Number 8|