Preview to Leeds (H - B&I)

11/01/2013

Turf wars, groundhogs and dead rubber

Groundhog 300

Groundhog Day isn't until February 2nd, but with Jersey and Leeds squaring up for the fourth time in as many months, it may seem like it's arrived early at St Peter this weekend.

Jersey currently hold a 2-1 lead after three games in the four-match series, encompassing the Championship and B&I Cup.

Arriving on the Island for the 'third test' in December, Leeds were most probably unaware of the superb state of Jersey's pitch at the start of the season, and the fact that the final quarter of 2012 was well on the way to being the wettest ever on the Island. And then it started raining at 9pm on the Friday night, and was still chucking it down at breakfast the following day, as a result of which it's fair to say the visitors weren't licking their lips when they arrived at St Peter.

Not surprisingly the pitch was beyond heavy and a match was likely to do it considerable damage. But Leeds were already here, and crucially the referee had no concerns about it being dangerous, so the game went ahead, with raindrops - or were they tears? - rolling down the cheeks of groundsman Myles Landick as he joined the squadron of volunteers forking the pitch (and cursing the forkin' weather while they were at it).

Fortunately the rain had at least stopped by kick-off time, and conditions were certainly nowhere near as bad as other games that spring to mind. The World Cup semi-final in Durban in 1995 anybody? Or if that's too far in the past, what about Biarritz v Connacht in the Amlin European Water Polo Championship four weeks ago?

Leeds left Jersey, having declined an invitation that they stay for Christmas, with a losing bonus point and optimistic thoughts about having a new back yard to play in when they got home: the Headingley pitch had been relaid and was supposedly ready for the visit of Plymouth Albion last Sunday. But unfortunately this wasn't the case, and with the new turf cutting up badly at scrum-time, referee Matt Carley ruled it was dangerous and ordered uncontested scrums after quarter of an hour's play.

Turf

Carley's decision wasn't a popular one, but nevertheless the incident was an embarrassing one for the home side, who face an RFU investigation following a complaint from Albion, and have already had to switch the venue for next weekend's B&I tie against Leinster 'A'.

The other major development since the teams last met was Leeds the New Year's Eve announcement that fly-half Rory Clegg (below) was joining on a dual-registration/ loan deal from Harlequins. The 23-year-old made more than 80 Premiership appearances, mostly as a replacement, during his time at Quins and previous club Newcastle. He made an immediate impact against Plymouth, looking assured and contributing 14 points from kicks, and home supporters will be looking forward to seeing him in action on St Peter's firm turf for this weekend's 'final test.'

Rory Clegg _1204749

Ultimately this may not be a season-defining occasion, but Jersey followers who don't think a 3-1 record over a club of Leeds' size and pedigree, in a debut season at this level, should perhaps audit the levels of their own expectations.

Kick-off, please take not, is at 4pm rather than the usual time for Jersey home games of 3pm as the opposition are flying in on the day, arriving at around lunchtime.


News from the Jersey camp
Jersey's Director of Rugby has made significant changes to his Jersey squad, pledging that there are places up for grabs for the Championship run-in.

Just six of the starting line-up from last weekend's disappointing league defeat against Moseley are in the XV for the B&I fixture. Harvey denies this is a matter of rotation, or resting certain players, saying there is an opportunity for those selected to grasp.

In the backs, Tom Cooper and Ross Broadfoot both start after coming off the bench at Moseley, with Mike Le Bourgeois switching to full-back.
Partnering the returning Donovan Sanders on the wing will be 18-year-old Chris Levesley (below), making just his third 1st XV appearance of the season having come on as a replacement against Bristol and Leinster 'A'.

levesley

The Jersey pack sees the front-row replacements from last weekend swapped with the starting trio, while Rob Anderson gets a run-out at lock in place of skipper Nathan Hannay and Paul Rodgers replaces Graham Bell at flanker. Hannay and Bell will be on the bench, alongside the three front-row players, scrum-half Brendan O'Brien and full-back/ winger Glenn Bryce.

New loan signing Joe Buckle, a dual-registration deal with Bath, is unavailable for the game: having played for Cornish Pirates in the B&I earlier in the season, the 19-year-old flanker is classed as 'cup-tied' and cannot play for another team.


Jersey squad, sponsored by Locate Jersey and jersey.com

1 Richard Barrington
2 Charlie Clare
3 James Gethings
4 Rob Anderson
5 Dave Markham
6 Paul Rodgers
7 Kingsley Lang
8 Guy Thompson
9 Nicky Griffiths
10 Ross Broadfoot
11 Chris Levesley
12 Tom Cooper
13 Dai Bishop
14 Donovan Sanders
15 Mike Le Bourgeois

Replacements
16 Sean McCarthy
17 Dave Felton
18 Jon Brennan
19 Nathan Hannay
20 Graham Bell
21 Brendan O'Brien
22 Glenn Bryce

Any previous?
The two sides have already met twice this season, firstly at Headingley on Friday September 7th. A lively first-half finished 13-13, with Jersey registering a maiden Championship try courtesy of a fine run by Guy Thompson, with the ball taken on by Donovan Sanders and fed to Mike Le Bourgeois for the score. The home side had opened the scoring through debutant Josh Griffin.

Sadly for Jersey, the promise of the first half didn't endure, and two tries by skipper Jacob Rowan (top scorer this season with five) and another by Jamel Chisholm helped Carnegie pull clear to eventually win 32-19. A more detailed report can be found here.

At York's Clifton Park ground on October 21st, Jamel Chishol scored the only try of the first half of the B&I tie, but Jersey led 15-10 at the break courtesy of five Mike Le Bourgeois penalties.

Guy Thompson and Donovan Sanders scored the second-half tries that gave Jersey a little breathing space, and the Islanders hung on for a deserved win in spite of a late rally that brought the hosts back within range. Another more detailed report can be found here.

The third 'test' was at St Peter three days before Christmas, and yes it was muddy. Jersey trailed 3-10 at the break, old boy David Doherty getting the only try, and their prospects looked bleak early in the second period, but two tries in six minutes around the hour mark turned the match on its head: a superb burst through midfield by Guy Thompson created room for Max Stelling to claim Jersey's first, and in the home side's next serious attack, sparked by Ed Dawson and Dave Markham's run, the Leeds' pack had no answer to Jersey's power and conceded a penalty try.

Doherty scored a second try after Matt Clark's searing run to reduce Jersey's lead to 20-17 and set up a nervous finale, but the home side hung on. More details may again be obtained - see here.

Leeds Carnegie: the season so far
Leeds went through a summer of change after finishing their 2011/12 campaign in late April. There were plenty of departures from the club at the end of a disappointing season back in May but perhaps the most significant change came right at the top of the club. Paul Caddick handed over the reins to Sir Ian McGeechan, the British and Irish Lions legend, as the new Executive Chairman of the club. McGeechan has a hands-on role with the club to spearhead a drive for new sponsorship, support and development for the club in the years ahead, to try and establish Leeds Carnegie amongst the elite sides in the country once again.

There were also changes in the coaching team. A very familiar face was missing from the dug-out after Team Manager John Carey left the club after nearly 20 years outstanding service to the club. Chris Gibson was appointed as Director of Rugby and Mark Luffman relinquished his first team coaching duties to turn his focus back entirely to the crucial work of developing the club's Academy. Former Manchester and England Counties coach Dave Baldwin was recruited as forwards coach, whilst former player Jon Pendlebury joined the Academy coaching staff after being forced to retire in the summer.

On the field the changes were also far-reaching. Senior players such as Lee Blackett, Scott Barrow, Mike MacDonald and Danny Paul have left the club whilst last year's Young Player of the Year Tommy Bell opted to join London Wasps after his season-long loan from Sale Sharks last season. In total 27 players left the club from last season.

In their place came 14 players, the biggest contingent being four from Championship runners up Cornish Pirates. Three of those are Yorkshiremen, notably David Doherty returns to the club where his career began before stop off points at Wasps, Sale, Jersey and the Pirates. Ben Hooper is another with connections to the club as the younger brother of former skipper Stuart.

Leeds have looked to inject pace into their backline with two signings from Rugby League in the shape of Jamel Chisholm from Leeds Rhinos and Josh Griffin from Castleford Tigers whilst there is plenty of power up front with Lee Imiolek and Joe Graham joining on loan for the season from Sale and Newcastle respectively along with French powerhouse Damien Tussac from Toulon.

Leeds played pre-season games against Wasps and Newcastle Falcons, losing 23-50 and 19-52 respectively, before their opening weekend clash at Nottingham.

The Yorkshire side, who apparently have the youngest squad in the Championship, took an early 20-3 lead thanks to tries by full-back Steve McColl and captain/ open-side Jacob Rowan. However the home side narrowed the deficit to 17-23 at the break and then pushed on in the second half to lead 34-26. Joe Ford's late penalty gained a bonus point for his side, although this would have been snatched away had James Arlidge landed a last-gasp effort of his own.

The opening part of the season continued in mixed fashion, the home win over Jersey being surpassed by a breathtaking 50-31 defeat of Bristol and a 42-7 trouncing of Doncaster; however Carnegie also went down narrowly to Plymouth at Brickfields and heavily to Newcastle at Kingston Park.

Resuming league action after the first wave of B&I fixtures, successive away games yielded a defeat in Cornwall at Pirate hands and a win in Richmond against London Scottish. Carnegie then got the better of Rotherham and Moseley, but suffered a heavy 25-45 home defeat to Bedford.

The Bedford game was abandoned due to a pitch that was becoming dangerously frozen, but the result stood with 65 minutes (five more than the mimimum threshold) having been played. This was one of four games played on 'out grounds' in Yorkshire while the pitch at Headingley was being relaid during the rugby league off-season. Carnegie are due to be back home for the visit of Plymouth on January 5th.

Leeds Head Coach Diccon Edwards, 39, is a former player (76 appearances) and Academy Manager at the club, appointed to his current role after the departure of Neil Back in summer 2011.

Edwards has made ten changes to his side to face Jersey.

Only winger Matt Clark and fly half Rory Clegg remain in the backline from last week's team that beat Plymouth at Headingley Carnegie. Oli Goss returns after illness whilst Pete Lucock, Curtis Wilson and Christian Georgiou get the chance to impress in the backline. Craig Hampson swaps places with James Doherty at scrum half.

In the forwards, Damien Tussac, Dominic Barrow and Ryan Burrows are retained whilst Ben Harris, Joe Graham, Matt Smith and Chris Walker start this week after coming off the bench against Plymouth. University of Leeds Chemistry student Pierce Phillips returns to the second row after featuring in both games against Pontypridd in the last round of the British & Irish Cup.

Five players were in the starting XV at St Peter three weeks ago: Georgiou, Goss, Barrow, Tussac and Burrows, with only the latter two wearing the same shirt.

Leeds squad:

15. Christian Georgiou
14. Matt Clark
13. Oli Goss
12. Pete Lucock
11. Curtis Wilson
10. Rory Clegg
9. Craig Hampson

1. Ben Harris
2. Joe Graham
3. Damien Tussac
4. Matt Smith
5. Pierce Phillips
6. Dominic Barrow
7. Chris Walker
8. Ryan Burrows

Replacements

16. Phil Nilsen
17. Sam Lockwood
18. Rob Baldwin
19. Jacob Rowan
20. James Doherty
21. Joe Ford
22. Stevie McColl


Leeds Rugby Union: a potted history
The history of Leeds Carnegie is a cocktail of different aged components, matured separately before being combined during more recent times and blended into a series of modern interpretations. One of the great northern combinations, like Bradford & Bingley, Trueman and Statham, and, er, Ant 'n' Dec.

Headingley Football Club were founded in 1878 and played games on Cardigan Fields, site of the current ground. The club withstood a lean spell for rugby in Yorkshire during the early part of the 20th Century, and after the Great War, but in the 1930s was prospering with excellent facilities, impressive results and representative honours.

Two notable names from the 1960s were Ian McGeechan and John Spencer. The latter was last encountered by Jersey in the club's trip to Yorkshire in January of this year, when they played the Wharfedale club of which he is now President, while McGeechan's career has gone full circle and he is now back at Leeds as Executive Chairman.

In the 1980s Peter Winterbottom was the most notable Headingley player of his era, winning 58 caps for England and seven for the Lions. His father John, a member since 1950, also played a key role in the history of Leeds, brokering the merger with Roundhay that led to the formation of Leeds RUFC in 1992.

Roundhay were formed in 1924 and had a golden era in the 1950s which included a first-ever appearance in the Yorkshire Cup Final. The loss to the Royal Signals was finally avenged in 1975 when England internationals Richard Cardus and Keith Smith helped Roundhay defeat Headingley 20-16 in a replay which followed a 13-all draw.

Merger discussions were initiated by John Winterbottom with a view to forming a single, much larger club from Headingley, Roundhay and Morley. Morley subsequently withdrew, but the merger was finalised in July 1992 with the first game played two months later.

The new club climbed the leagues and appointed professionals Colin Stephens (Youth Development Officer) and Phil Davies (Director of Rugby) in 1995 and 1996, as well as moving to Headingley Stadium. In 1998 the modern era truly arrived when rugby union in Leeds became a brand, namely Leeds Tykes, in partnership with the city's league brethren the Rhinos under the ownership of Leeds Rugby Limited, and by September 2001 the Tykes had reached the Premiership, then sponsored by Zurich.

The highlights of a five-season stint in the top flight were finishing fifth in 2002/03, earning qualification for the Heineken Cup, and lifting the Powergen Cup in 2005. But the cup success was followed by relegation 12 months later, inspite of the presence of star names like Justin Marshall and Gordon Bulloch in the squad.

The most recent incarnation of the club saw Leeds Carnegie formed in 2007 after the club returned to the Premiership and formed a partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University, who acquired a 51% share in the club. The Carnegie names came from the Scottish entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie whose Carnegie Trust funded the establishment of a PE teaching training college in 1933. Carnegie College is now the Carnegie Faculty of Sport and Education within Leeds Metropolitan University.

Current England Coach Stuart Lancaster was involved with the club for 16 years, serving as Director of Rugby before leaving in 2008 to join the England set-up. He was replaced by Andy Key, while England flanker Neil Back became Head Coach. The yo-yo existence continued with two seasons at the top level, attracting home crowds of between 4,000 and 10,000, followed by relegation in 2011 and a mid-table performance in 2011/12 (6th in the league, 3rd in promotion pool B). Last season's crowds dropped to an average figure of 2,314, third highest behind Bristol and Bedford and just ahead of Cornish Pirates.

In May 2009 it was announced that the club was re-structuring with former Wales and British Lion international Gareth Davies joining a new board of Directors, and Leeds Rugby taking control of the club once again.

In order to attract further financial support for the club, Leeds Met has returned its 51% stake in the club to Leeds Rugby and agreed a revised strategic partnership arrangement, which includes sponsorship. The name of the club remained as Leeds Carnegie RUFC.

Davies, who is a former Chief Executive of Cardiff RFC and BBC Wales Head of Sport, is the new Dean of the Carnegie Faculty of Sport & Education at Leeds Met and he will represent the university on a new board, which is headed up by Paul Caddick, the property and construction entrepreneur and former Headingley lock, as Chairman.


Coming to St Peter
Tickets for the match are £15 for adults, £10 for Jersey members on production of a membership card, £3 for juniors (13 to 16 inclusive) and free to those aged 12 and under. These will be on sale at the club shop between 10am and 1pm on Friday. The £3 concession rate will also be available to any full-time student on production of the appropriate identification.

Tickets will be on sale on the gate from 1pm on Saturday, with the ground and facilities open from then onwards. There will be no Friday night reception at the club this week.

Recent wet weather means parking will be once again be available on the Airport Field on Avenue de la Commune (that's the main route from the airport to Red Houses). Access is opposite the two petrol stations.

A courtesy shuttle bus service will operate between the Airport Field car park and the club, starting at 1pm (ideal for lunchers ahead of their 1.30pm meal) and running until 6.45pm.

Spectators are urged to allow extra time to access the car park or consider other means of transport such as taxis, a lift, or the bus (services #9 and #15).

Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v Leeds through the following channels:

• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey from 5.30- 6pm on Friday, and live commentary on Saturday afternoon from 2pm (available online and on your transistor-wireless device)
• Preview in Friday's JEP, more rugby in Saturday's Inside Centre pull-out, and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum
• Match report on Channel 103 straight after the final whistle on Saturday, plus updates during the match
• Reports and match action on Channel TV online and on Monday evening at 6.15pm; and on BBC Channel Islands on Monday evening at 6.30pm

The B&I this weekend
Two of the eight groups are all over bar the shouting, with Bedford and Newcastle nailed on to qualify as winners of pools 2 and 4 respectively, even though the Falcons lost two points for playing an ineligible player. Pirates (pool 3), Moseley (6) and Munster (7) are favourites to win their groups - one more win would suffice.

That leaves the greatest interest in pool 1, where Ulster (17 points) host Bristol (18) in a likely group decider on Friday, and pool 8, where west Walians Llandovery (15 pts) have significant advantages over Doncaster (12) and Nottingham (11) and can seal the deal with two more wins.

Plus of course pool 5, where the winner is likely to be decided, bar a slip-up in the final round (or extraordinary results mentioned in 'And Finally'), at Donnybrook in Dublin, where Leinster 'A' host Pontypridd on Saturday at 2pm, with both teams locked together on 15 points. Leinster will be keen to avenge a last-minute defeat from their trip to Sardis Road in October.

The four pool winners with the best record after the group stages have been completed will receive home advantage in the quarter-final draw against a randomly-drawn qualifier from the teams ranked 5th to 8th.

Friday
Moseley v London Scottish, Pl6, 19:30
Ulster v Bristol, Pl1, 19:30

Saturday
Aberavon v Munster, Pool, 14:30
Bedwas v Neath, Pl2, 14:30
Cardiff v Bridgend, Pl1, 14:30
Doncaster v Nottingham, Pool, 14:30
Gala v Llanelli, Pl6, 15:00
Jersey v Leeds Carnegie, Pl5, 15:00
Leinster v Pontypridd, Pl5, 14:00
Llandovery v Melrose, Pool, 15:00
Newcastle v Connacht, Pl4, 15:00
Newport v Cross Keys, Pl4, 14:30
Plymouth Albion v Rotherham Titans, Pool, 15:00
Stirling County v Bedford, Pl2, 14:00
Swansea v Carmarthen Quins, Pl3, 14:30

Sunday
Cornish Pirates v Dundee High, Pl3, 14:00


And Finally
Can Jersey qualify? The simple answer is: "No, they can't." In fact a quarter-final spot is possible, all that needs to happen is the following:

* Leinster and Ponty draw (no try BPs tho')
* Jersey beat Leeds with a bonus point
* Jersey beat Ponty with a bonus point, while denying the Welsh anything
* Leeds beat Leinster 5-0 (on match points)
* With three sides level on 17 points, Jersey (currently -29 points) make up deficits on Leinster (+62) and Ponty (+25) to triumph in the tie-breaker

But anyway, returning to the original question, and an identical answer: "No, they can't."

Usually other rugby on Jersey at the weekend is mentioned here, but sadly all the games scheduled have been cancelled for various reasons, so apart from the main event it's European action on television. Well done to Banks Ladies however for a whopping win over Harlequins last weekend.

Enjoy your weekend's rugby
Tom Innes

 

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