Preview to Tynedale (h) 19.11.1118/11/2011
1010 (miles return) 'til we do it again (in March)
The longest journey on the English rugby calendar, not including Mike Tindall's route from Altitude Bar in Queenstown to the team hotel, begins before dawn on Saturday morning. That's when Tynedale leave their Northumberland home, just beneath Hadrian's Wall, and head for an island within sight of France.
In the red corner, Jersey are a team on a roll, with six straight wins including last weekend's stunner against Cambridge. The Islanders may have been just under the radar before the game at Volac Park, but that's not the case any more - which is what scoring 33 unanswered points in the second half, away from home against the side third in the league, with 14 men, does to a team's attempts to remain unobtrusive.
The missing man in the second half, Nathan Hannay, will be absent this week as he begins the sentence for his red card (this is currently a fortnight's suspension by JRFC which may or may not be deemed sufficient punishment by a RFU disciplinary panel on 28th November). The absence of the Big Friendly (except to foxes) Giant causes some musical chairs in the Jersey pack, with summer signing Kingsley Lang getting a rare start alongside Jim Brownrigg in the second row, and Nick Trower assigned to some of Nathan's ball-carrying duties, hopefully at even greater pace, from the Number 8 berth. The changes see Graham Bell, and his shocking moustache, move onto the flank and Steve O'Brien rotated to the bench.
Otherwise Jersey are unchanged, with a backline that looks pretty settled, at least until the likes of Ross Broadfoot, Nicky Griffiths and Glenn Bryce are fit again or any further injuries disrupt the present unit. Player-coach Ben Evans joins both O'Briens and Tommy Turner on the bench, where there's also a place for young forward Tim Corson, who'll hope to get a first league appearance in front of his home support.
Tynedale in 2011/12
Tyne began an erratic campaign with a five-tries-to-four win over Stourbridge, one of three successes in four games that also included beating local rivals Blaydon.
The campaign then stuttered, including a surely unprecedented hat-trick of home defeats spanning just 22 days, before the boost of a 49-9 thrashing of the Bees.
Last weekend league leaders Ealing were at Tynedale Park and just escaped with the spoils, by 29-24, after Tyne ended the match pushing for a fifth try that would have earned at least a draw.
In common with Blaydon, Tynedale have close links with Newcastle Falcons with a number of dual registered players. The unpredictability of knowing when players may be required by their senior paymasters was perhaps one reason, along with injuries, why the team used around 50 players last season and have also seen plenty of change from week to week this time around.
The fly-half position has been symptomatic of this difficulty. Top points scorer Gavin Beasley (153 points from kicks plus two tries in 2010/11) has yet to feature this season due to injury and young star Joel Hodgson, an England age group fly-half, has been required by the Falcons where he has to endure the burden of the 'next Jonny Wilkinson' label. Matty Outson, at home in either half-back position, wore the 10 shirt against Ealing but is himself unavailable, so last week's full-back, William Massey, moves inside.
Elsewhere in the backs look out for Hamish Smales, a flyer speedy enough to have earned England Sevens' recognition and captain Jack Harrison, who scored nine tries last season and opened his team's account against Ealing last week. Full-back Chris Harris is another summer signing who is also on the books at Newcastle. On another day there could have been a Scotland Under 20s reunion, but centre Harry Mountain joins Jersey's Glenn Bryce on the sidelines - both have arm injuries. Last season's top try-scorer, Sepp Visser with 23, is now playing for Boroughmuir in Edinburgh.
Tynedale's pack features a mix of experience from previous campaigns and new faces. Flanker (and brother of Gavin) Grant Beasley played 27 times last season and lock Richard Boyle, another regular from last year, is available for the trip having also been in contention at Newcastle thus far this season. The summer signings also saw Tyne hunt down a bargain, with prop David Dickinson joining from Morpeth (stop groaning at the back), while the visitors' bench contains a player capped by his country at Under 16, 18 and 20 level. Flanker Sam Northcote-Green was formerly on the books of London Wasps and remains young enough - he's 19 - to be a continued prospect for further representative rugby.
Tynedale - a potted history
The club were founded in 1876 and were one of the founder members of the Northumberland Rugby Union four years later. In 1894 they hosted the first-ever seven-a-side tournament in England.
The centenary of Tynedale RFC coincided with the move to the present ground at Tynedale Park, and when league rugby began a decade later, the club took their place in Thwaites North Division One.
After 13 seasons at the top tier of the regional game, Tyne made the jump to the national level by storming to the North One title in 1999/2000 by winning 22 straight games. They then spent eight seasons at Level Four before promotion in 2007/08, and in the next three seasons up to May 2011 finished fourth, fifth and fifth again at Level Three.
Arguably Tyne's most famous former player is the Welshman Noel Forbes Humphreys. Although he never played for his country, the Bridgend-born stand-off was part of a Tynedale team that won 15 trophies in the decade leading up to the Great War, and was selected for what is recognised as the first official British Lions tour to South Africa in 1910. Humphreys fought as a Captain in the Tank Corps (10th Battalion), was Mentioned in Despatches and awarded the Military Cross. He was killed in action on 27th March 1918 and is commemorated at Etaples Military Cemetery near Boulogne.
Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v Tynedale through the following channels:
• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey's 'Sportscene' from 6- 7pm on Friday, and live commentary on Saturday afternoon
• Preview in Friday's JEP, and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum
• Match report on Channel 103 on Saturday afternoon, either just before or just after 5pm depending on how many times the ref stops his watch
• Highlights on Channel TV at 6.15pm on Monday, and online
Fiat Lux may sound like the latest motor from the continent on which Gary 'sexy Italian style' Rousseau might offer you a good deal. But it's also the Latin phrase for 'let there be light.' Jersey v Tynedale will be the second-ever adult match played under floodlights at St Peter, starting at 3pm, and it will be followed two hours later by the third, as Jersey 2nds host LQ Lydian Lions in a VerrasLaw JRA league game at 5pm.
If two live matches in one day doesn't sate your appetite for rugby, there's no need to charter a plane to France for the Lyon Olympique v Toulon Amlin Cup tie at 7.45pm, you can just start earlier at St Peter: a Jersey A team consisting mainly of youth players takes on the team from 'Jersey's warship' HMS Iron Duke, at 11.30am.