Inter-Service Fencing Championships, RAF Cosford, 14–17 July 2014

This year’s Inter-Service Fencing Championships between the three services took place at RAF Cosford, hosted by the RAF Fencing Union. The team performed well and produced some outstanding individual and team  results, despite the loss of some key performers this year to operational and training duties.

Triangular Match
The overall team trophies were won by the Army in both the Men’s and Ladies’ competitions.

The RAF Ladies’ team, despite not fielding a full team in Foil and Epée, achieved some promising results. Flt Lt Sharnock and Fg Off Mailey performed strongly in the Sabre. After the final count of matches against the Army and the Navy the RAF came out top with five victories, the other two services four and three victories each respectively. Flt Lt Taylor went on to win all her fights in the Epée but without a full team was unable to contribute to a team win in the Triangular.

The Men’s Triangular was closely and well fought. The Sabre team was captained by Flt Lt Sonderskov, whose team secured an early lead against the RN. SAC Farrer kept the team’s hopes alive with an excellent fight against the Navy’s top sabreur, however, the lead was eroded and the RN proved insurmountable. Against the Army the rest of the team performed well; Flt Lt Walden and FS Gumley rallied back from the Army’s early advantage, bringing the score back to just one point behind. The final score was 42–45 to the Army, which is a reflection of how close the match was.

The Men’s Foil did not have their strongest performance in recent years, but put up a very good fight. Wg Cdr Henderson-Begg took an early 5–4 lead against the RN but this was reversed, and ended with a deserved victory for the Navy 37–45. The Army took an early lead from the RAF team, but Flt Lt Griffiths reversed the fortunes and brought the score up to 13–10. Despite a good effort, Sqn Ldr McNulty was unable to hold the lead against the Army, who finished strongly to end the match 33–45.

The Men’s Epée competition was truly the highlight of the Triangular matches. Despite a strong opening bout from the RAF, the RN quickly commanded a 10-point lead. After a redirection of strategy, the RAF retook the momentum of the match. Flt Lt Welch, making his debut representing the RAF, held his ground against the seasoned RN fencers. Flt Lt Orme managed to close the gap to just five points, leaving Wg Cdr Liston to take the piste and secured a hard-fought victory 39–38 in extra time with only seconds to spare. Following this strong performance, the RAF put in a solid victory over the Army in their second match.

The Masterswordsman and Masterswordswoman events were fought by Wg Cdr Liston and Flt Lt Taylor. Wg Cdr Liston won the Men’s event in a closely fought and strong field, to win the trophy for the 11th time in his many years representing the RAF. Flt Lt Taylor won the Ladies’ trophy, winning all of her matches against the RN and Army ladies.

Individuals’ Competition
Fg Off Mailey met Flt Lt Taylor in the semi-final of the Ladies’ Sabre, beating her 15–13 and securing her place in the final. She was unable to defeat the Army’s Capt Lee, and finished with a silver medal. Taylor settled for a bronze medal in the Sabre, but made up for it and went on to win two gold medals in the Foil and the Epée. In the Men’s competition, Flt Lt Orme earned a silver medal in the Sabre, while SAC Farrer finished in 7th place. There was a stronger performance in the Foil from the RAF men, who had four of the top eight places. Flt Lt Orme took another silver medal, while Wg Cdr Henderson-Begg took a bronze medal in third place. Wg Cdr Liston and Flt Lt Griffiths finished 5th and 7th places respectively.

In his last ever match at Inter-Service Sport, Wg Cdr Liston produced another exciting final.His opponent, Off Cdt Narey from the Army took an early lead, and Liston was down 13–9 at the end of the second period. His experience and talent came through however, and Liston was victorious in the end as this year’s Epée champion.

Flt Lts Orme and Taylor’s performances in the individual events secured both the Men’s and Women’s Champion at Arms titles, allowing the Air Force to take both individual titles for the second year running.

Overall, the RAF team put in a great effort over the week of competition across all three fencing disciplines and were rewarded with top titles, silverware and aching bodies. The team spirit shown in both Triangular and Individual fights was excellent and will help in regaining the team titles in next year’s event, which will be hosted by the Army in early summer. Their performance rounded off an all-round strong season and set the standard for the new one to come in the Autumn.

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