Proving its motto during this year’s Duke of Gloucester Cup, 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment (2RAR), finished “second to none” in the Australian Army’s premier infantry skills competition.

Held at School of Infantry from August 10-16, sections from each of the infantry battalions showed their mettle in individual shooting, defence, attack, urban breaching and assault, first aid and reconnaissance, among other activities, with a strong focus on live firing this year.

2RAR not only took home the cup and RSM’s Trophy, but Private Sam Dierckx was awarded best soldier.

The combination of little sleep and complex scenarios made for a “physically and mentally” taxing competition, according to Corporal Patrick Mortimore, who said he couldn’t be happier with the way his team performed.

“It was a challenging competition with a quick turnaround. Each stand was about three hours, so we went through a lot of scenarios with little time to rest,” he said.

“I think what enabled us to win was the confidence that all the team had in their own abilities. When we came up against really complex scenarios, or something didn’t go to plan, they were able to quickly adapt and execute to come out with mission success.

“It was definitely one of the highlights of my career – leading the team through something as arduous as that, being able to rise to the occasion, complete the mission and come away with the win.”

Months of training led to the section’s win and Pte Dierckx said his being awarded the DSM Roche Memorial Cup for best soldier “came out of nowhere”.

“This was my first Duke of Gloucester Cup. It was definitely challenging, but we put in heaps of effort training, so we were well prepared,” Pte Dierckx said.

“Getting best soldier was a surprise – I was too focused on the competition and ticking all the boxes to even think about it, so I was pretty stoked when it happened.

“We were probably one of the fittest teams there. We blitzed the run on the falling-plate shoot by a few minutes, but everyone’s bodies were rattled by the end, so it was a relief to finally march across the line.”

The cup is a “highly sought after award”, according to School of Infantry operations officer Major Brett Seymour, who ran it this year.

“We got a high standard of soldiers and sections. The competition promotes training across the full-breadth of foundation warfighting and skills required of the battalions,” Major Seymour said.

“As a corps – and regiment – it helps us to find our strengths and areas for improvement, which helps the battalions focus their training.

“The competition was very close right up to the end, which was good to see. It’s designed to be physically tough, mentally demanding and technically challenging for the soldiers.

“Everyone in the school puts in to the planning and effort that goes into the cup, so the feedback we received from some of the competitors was a real compliment to the School of Infantry, its wings and their staff.”

2RAR’s winning section heads to the United Kingdom later in the year to compete in the Cambrian Patrol, an endurance activity hosted by the British Army, which is notorious for being one of the world’s toughest tests of soldier skills.