RAF High Wycombe on International Duty at Twickenham

One of the most anticipated games of the 6 Nations Rugby tournament each year is the game between England and Wales.

This year was no different with England the home team at Twickenham defending an unbeaten home run lasting almost 2 years. Wales were the visiting team on the 10th February which saw a very cagey affair as both teams were strong and hoping for the chance to push on and win the championship.

Early tries by the English and missed opportunities by Wales in a very close and tight game saw England run out as victors 12 – 6 in the rain and cold but in an atmosphere fitting of this historic sporting occasion.

Responding to the announcement on the A1 Ops information page, a group from RAF High Wycombe headed to the match to take out the international flags as part of the pre match ceremony. The day started with a meet outside the stadium at Midday having travelled from High Wycombe and parked locally at the Army School of music in the shadow of the stadium. We were then escorted into the ground and quickly put to work rehearsing the ceremony for the pre match at the local pitch at Cardinal Vaughn School outside the ground as rehearsals were not allowed on the pristine looking stadium pitch.

Once the selection was finalised of who would be working on which flag (most of this was done naturally with Walsh and English fans getting their loyalty and banter in early!) We began to learn the technicalities of the format and the performance that was needed before having just the one full dress rehearsal. Then it was time to have lunch and wait until all of the live TV broadcasts began to feed into the stadium and all of the final preparations happened behind the scenes while the players took the pitch for their warm ups and final preparations.

30 minutes to kick off and we were at our positions and the ceremony began resulting in a seamless delivery before the team took to the field for the national anthems. Very charged and emotional as the RAF Spitfires Choir guided the 90,000 strong crowd through each of the heart felt anthems that made the hair on the back of your neck stand up – a real privilege to be part of. And then it was ‘Clear the field’ as quickly as possible so that the business end of the day could begin. While we quickly put everything away, grabbed a pint and took our place in the stand.

A great day that is open to everyone. You have the privilege of being on the field of play before the game representing your service, your given a programme, a meal voucher and of course a ticket to the game. You just need to go onto the volunteers list on the A1 Ops site – why wouldn’t you?!

See you at the next one!

– Flt Lt Gareth Davies (STO)

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