Naval engineer ‘over the moon’ after playing his first international rugby match

LET (ME) Liam Williams, left, and Commander Jules Philoa from HMS Sultan with Liam's signed shirt from his first international test match. Picture: PO Phot Nicola Harper
LET (ME) Liam Williams, left, and Commander Jules Philoa from HMS Sultan with Liam's signed shirt from his first international test match. Picture: PO Phot Nicola Harper

A RUGBY union player who also works at HMS Sultan has earned his first international cap.

Leading engineering technician LET(ME) Liam Williams was picked for the Philippines National Rugby Team squad in the Asia Rugby Championship.

Friends, colleagues and a donation from the Central Amenities Fund at HMS Sultan in Gosport helped him raise the funds to take part in the trials.

The 26-man squad played in two test matches during the championship, both against Singapore.

Although Liam wasn’t picked for the first match, he found himself coming onto the pitch for the second test – forming part of a defensive line that stopped Singapore from scoring a single point in the second half, as the Philippines claimed a 38-26 point victory and the Asia Rugby Championship trophy.

Liam said: ‘There were 40 of us who took part in the trial across five days, all trying to win a place in the squad of 26.

‘Training twice a day in temperatures as high as around 40C was quite an experience, but it was much cooler in the evening sessions at around just 30C.

‘I was so pleased when I was told I had made the squad, so it was a little disappointing when I was told I wouldn’t be playing in the first test.

‘I knew that the team comes first, so when I heard my name called out for the second I was over the moon.’

Reflecting on his experience, Liam says that he is looking forward to earning further caps for his national side in the future – but won’t be abandoning the Royal Navy.

He said: ‘The whole experience was incredible. I learnt so much from the coaching staff and met some talented players.

‘I couldn’t have done it without the support of HMS Sultan and I’m hoping that I get to represent the Philippines and the Royal Navy for many years to come.’

As a thank you to HMS Sultan for the support in making the trails and subsequent tests, Liam presented the naval base with a signed shirt from the test match.

HMS Sultan executive officer, Commander Jules Philo said: ‘Sport is an integral part of Royal Navy training and so we are delighted at Sultan to see one of our own personnel being recognised at the very highest level.’

‘Liam’s success provides a great example to all those around him of what can be achieved if you remain determined enough.

‘The donated rugby shirt will be put on display as a reminder to others for many years to come.’