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.

YearThe 'Leigh Merrick' Cossack Sword Winner
2024Kristian Dobson - Winger
2023Rhys Williams - Hooker
2022Mitchell Spencer - Flanker
2019Greg Loydall - Fly Half
2018Sam Matavesi - Flanker
2017Ben Fox - Flanker
2016Edd Pascoe - Lock
2015Dave Fairbrother - Number 8
2014Matt Harvey - Flanker
2013Dom Taylor - Flanker
2012Sam Laird - Openside Flanker
2011Ben Priddey - Hooker
2010Marsh Cormack - Second Row
2009Calum McRae - Centre
2008Andrew 'Les' Dennis - Openside Flanker
2007Dave Pascoe - Scrum Half
2006Rob Lloyd - Fly Half
2005Greg Barden - Full Back
2004Marsh Cormack - Second Row
2003Nick Barlett - Loosehead Prop
2002Jim WIlliams - Winger
2001Andy Perry - Number 8
2000Bob Armstrong - Number 8