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When Vice Admiral Ben Key CBE became the 36th President of the Royal Navy Rugby Union he became the latest member of a very distinguished list. His predecessors include a Victory Cross holder, Sir Martin Dunbar-Nasmith Whilst Admiral of the Fleet the Lord Lewin who was not only a Navy Rugby try scorer against the RAF in 1948 but, perhaps, more famously remembered for being Chief of the Defence Staff during the Falkland Conflict in 1982. The first President of the Union, Spencer Login was an England International, capped in 1875 against Ireland whilst Percy Royds was a distinguished referee and future President of the Rugby Football Union.
Lord Lewin is joined on the President's list by two other former capped players. They are Vice Admiral Sir Horace Lyddon KBE CB and Rear Admiral Sir William G Agnew KCVO CB DSO. Lyddon won six caps from 1937. He played in the Inter Service winning teams of 1938 and 1939. Agnew won eight caps from 1920 - 1925. Hs first six caps, from 1920-1922 were as part of the only team in the Royal Navy Rugby Union's history that won the Inter Service Championship three times in succession.
Another interesting note seems to have occurred during Vice Admiral Sir Arthur Power's presidency. In 1948 an AM Power (Arthur Mackenzie Power) was capped by the Union in the Army Navy match, who I believe was the son of the serving President. This is the only occasion that the Royal Navy Rugby Union had a father, as President, watching his son play an Inter Service match.
From Sir Michael Hodges until Sir Desmond Dryer it looks as if the role of President of the Royal Navy Rugby Union was linked to the position of Second Sea Lord as I believe that nearly every President during this period served as President during their appointment as the Royal Navy's head of personnel. There was a break in this sequence during the Second World War and the other exception seems to be William Agnew when Admiral Sir Cecil Harcourt was 2SL
The longest serving President of the Royal Navy Rugby Union was Lord Lewin who served for thirteen years from 1972 - 1985.
Below the table of Presidents of the Royal Navy Rugby Union there is a second table. This lists the four Navy Rugby Presidents of the Rugby Football Union.
Geraint Ashton Jones July 2021
Presidents of the Rugby Football Union
|Year||Navy Rugby Presidents of the RFU|
|2020-2022||HHJ (former Cdre) Jeff Blackett|
|1990-1991||Captain Mike A. Pearey Royal Navy|
|1956-1957||Surgeon Rear Admiral Leslie B 'Ginger' Osborne|
|1927-1928||Vice Admiral Percy Royds|