Video: British and French Navies knock absolute lumps out of each other in rugby brawl
They have faced each other in battle many times, but the rivalry between the Royal Navy and French Marine Nationale on Wednesday night erupted in pitched fighting not on the sea, but the rugby field.
A match between the two navies in the southern French city of Toulon was marred by a large punch up which at one time appeared to involve almost all the players on the pitch and several on the touchline.
Video of the fight showed many of the Royal Navy, in grey, and French navy, in blue, trading blows and grappling during the melee in the centre of the field in an annual match nicknamed Le Crunch.
Two props were sent off after the clash, one from each side, and the match continued, but the combat failed to inspire the British side captained by Ben Priddey and the match ended in a heavy 28-6 defeat.
Match officials said last night (Thurs) they were compiling a report into the brawl. Naval sources said it was a yet unclear who threw the first punch, but players could face disciplinary action.
One Naval source said: "It kicked off a bit during the match, but they calmed down and the match was finished. They all went for a drink afterwards and there were no hard feelings."
The match was the latest round in the annual contest nicknamed Le Crunch between the two navies, for the Babcock International Trophy. The annual contest began in 2005 and the overall score is currently 6-6.
Toulon is considered the spiritual home of the French navy and hosts its main southern base.
A Royal Navy spokesman said: “We are aware of an incident at a rugby match between the Royal Navy and the Marine Nationale in Toulon, France. We understand the match continued without further incident and the two sides socialised together after the game.”