The Inter Services Tug of War Championships saw squads from the Army and RAF compete at the Pingles Athletic Stadium in Nuneaton as part of the Inter Services Athletics Championships (ISAC).
The Fund is a keen supporter of RAF sports and so it was encouraging to see so many Hearts on display on the rope.
Tug of War within the RAF has continued to grow in small increments over the last 5 years. The RAF Benevolent Fund has supported the RAF Tug of War squad throughout this period by assisting them to access strength and conditioning programmes and engage international coaches.
Thanks to this, much of the men's squad now compete with top UK clubs and the RAF now boasts a Welsh international and a Scottish international squad puller.
With two pulling teams for the 640kg – and with two of its key athletes missing – the RAF A-team weighed in 15kg lighter than the other squads, entering the weight category the significant underdogs.
RAF B, made up of a mix of experienced and novice pullers, almost delivered a surprise shock holding the RAF A but only buckling to a 2-1 defeat.
RAF B went up against Army A and managed to hold them too, but eventually lost 2-1. Army B were credible oppositions, but the RAF A-team pulled to victory 2-0 in this best of 3 ends format.
The showdown was set for Army A and RAF A in a winner-takes-all face-off for the 640kg title. The trophy itself spoke volumes as the only name engraved on the silver was 'Army' and so the expectations were again for a Red victory.
However, with Welsh international Flt Lt Gareth Davies pulling at No1 and Flt Lt Greg Curtis directing tactics at No7, the RAF delivered a shock 2-0 defeat against the reigning champions and won the Inter-Services 640kg championship for the first time in 31 years.
Cpl Matt Crawley of RAF St Mawgan said on receiving his winners medal: "I have been competing at this sport for over 20 years and to come home with a gold medal is a significant moment in my ToW career."
There was a sizeable crowd cheering on all the military athletes on the track and on the field and Cpl Lottie Lofthouse, 1AMW RAF Brize Norton, highlighted
"What is great about these sporting events is that it is an opportunity to inform the public and serving personnel about the work of the RAF Benevolent Fund, especially this year, their 100th Anniversary."
The RAF women too showed their strength and tenacity in the 600kg category. Made up of 4 novices, they held the strong Army team, but the Army women's experience ultimately led them to defeat the RAF Women 2-0.
It was a similar tale in the men's 680 kg and the mixed 4x4 600kg categories, with the Army winning decisive victories having been able to dig deep into a pool of talented and experienced pullers.
Wg Cdr Nick Robson, HQ AIR and Head of RAF ToW and Chair of UKAF Tug of War, added:
"Clearly this has been a successful tournament for the Army deservedly winning three of the four categories, but we are so proud of the RAF 640kg men's squad who delivered on the rope today and built on our successes of RAF100 and at the Braemar Royal Highland Games last year.
"Without the support of our partners such as the RAF Benevolent Fund, we would not be able to build nor access the essential training regimes necessary to compete even at this level. Key too is using the platform of sport to ensure all our serving personnel, their families and veterans are aware of the support available to them from the RAF Benevolent Fund."