Flying Tigers gear-up for the cup
The Army (yellow) and the Navy meet up on Joint Base Lewis-McChord in the 2018 Commander’s Cup. Going into the match May 21, the Army has dominated the series 21-2. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army Photo ) VIEW ORIGINAL

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. – Active-duty service members, reservists and guardsmen will compete in a rugby tournament at Rainier Field on McChord Field May 21 at noon. This is for the annual Army-Navy Commander's Cup with Soldiers and Airmen from JBLM playing against Sailors and Marines from the greater Puget Sound region during the Armed Forces Day festivities on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

This will be the 24th year for the competition, however only 23 matches have been played due to COVID19 restrictions. The Army has won all but two of the matches over the years.

“It’s always a good group of players who come together for this event and I’m always grateful they volunteer their time to participate and keep our sport going,” said Nicholas Punimata, coach for the JBLM Flying Tigers.

The matches began in 1998 with an Army vs. Navy Rugby Match played in the Pacific Northwest. The original idea was to play a friendly service match representing Bremerton and (then) Fort Lewis. Some veterans have also played due to player deployments.

“It is an event that has been played in the shadows, because not many people understand or know the game, however for those military Soldier and Sailor athletes who have been around the game, it is a unique sport with many traditions unlike other sports,” Punimata said.

The Commanders Cup trophy is passed between the two teams, where the winner holds it for the year until the next match.


Military players from all-over the world will compete before the military appreciation night for the Seattle Seawolves vs. Houston Saber Cats professional rugby match at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila May 27 at 7:06 p.m.

The teams, Old Salt Rugby, made up of service members from the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard, will compete against The Flying Tigers, made up of service members from the Army and Air Force to include three service members from JBLM. Kickoff is scheduled for 5:06 p.m.

“The one thing that will standout is that we were given the opportunity to showcase those (service members’) athletic skills and their ability to come together in a short amount of time and collectively mesh idea’s, strategies and work toward a common goal of winning an event,” Punimata said.

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