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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

YearNavy Rugby Presidents of the RNRU
2017-Vice Admiral Sir Ben J Key KCB CBE
2012-2017Admiral Sir Philip A. Jones KCB ADC
2010-2012Admiral Sir Trevor Soar KCB OBE
2007-2010Rear Admiral Neil Morisetti CB
1997-2007Admiral Sir Jonathon Band GCB DL
1996-1997Commodore Doug R.S. Lewis CBE Royal Navy
1995-1996Rear Admiral Neil E. Rankin CB CBE
1993-1995Rear Admiral Mike P. Gretton MA
1985-1993Admiral Sir Michael H. Livesay KCB
1972-1985Admiral of the Fleet the Rt Ho Lord Lewin KG GCB LVO DSC
1970-1972Admiral Sir Andrew Lewis KCB
1968-1970Admiral Sir Frank R Twiss KCB DSC
1967-1968 Vice Admiral Sir Horace Lyddon KBE CB
1965-1967 Admiral Sir Desmond Dreyer GCB CBE DSC
1961-1965 Admiral Sir Royston Wright KCB DSC
1960-1961 Vice Admiral Sir St. John Tyrwhitt Bt CB DSO DSC
1958-1960 Admiral Sir Douglas E Holland-Martin KCB DSO DSC DL
1956-1957Admiral Sir Chalres Lambe KCB CVO
1954-1956Admiral the Hon Sir Guy Russell GBE KCB DSO
1950-1953Vice Admiral Alec C G Madden CB CBE
1948-1950Rear Admiral Sir William G Agnew KCVO CB DSO
1946-1948Vice Admiral Sir Arthur J Power GBE KCB CVO
1938-1939Admiral Sir Charles J C Little KCB
1935-1938Admiral Sir Martin E. Dunbar-Nasmith VC KCB
1932-1935Admiral Sir Dudley Pound KCB
1931-1932Admiral Sir Cyril Fuller KCB CMG DSO
1928-1930Vice Admiral Sir Michael H. Hodges KCB CMG MVO
1927-1928Rear Admiral John M Casement
1922-1927Admiral Sir Percy M.R. Royds CB CMG ADC
1920-1922Rear Admiral Sir Alfred Ernle Montacue Chatfield KCMG CB CVO
1919-1920Admiral Sir Montague E Browning GCMG KCB MVO
1918-1919Rear Admiral Ernest M Philpotts CB
1912-1914Rear Admiral Sir Robert Arbuthnot Bart MVO
1910-1912Vice Admiral Sir John R Jellicoe KCB KCVO
1909-1910Rear Admiral Paul W Bush MVO
1907-1909Rear Admiral Spencer H Login CVO

Presidents of the Rugby Football Union

Mike Pearey President of the RFU and former Selector and Captain of Navy Rugby. Image courtesy of Trevor Gatehouse.  Image taken on the occasion of the 75th Anniversary Challenge Match between the Royal Navy and the Royal Australian Navy 25 June 1986.  The RAN's Centenary season also included the 2012 Commonwealth Cup as its concluding celebrations.

YearNavy Rugby Presidents of the RFU
2020-2022HHJ (former Cdre) Jeff Blackett
1990-1991Captain Mike A. Pearey Royal Navy
1956-1957Surgeon Rear Admiral Leslie B 'Ginger' Osborne
1927-1928Vice Admiral Percy Royds