Preview to Leeds Carnegie (A)

06/09/2012

Horny, Harvey and Headingley

This weekend, Jersey make their second-ever trip to the county known as 'God's own' among its proud inhabitants (Like the famous department store John Lewis, Yorkshire is never-knowingly undersold).

Some of the Jersey players were a bit taken aback when they arrived at Wharfedale in January for their only previous encounter in White Rose territory: rolling snow-capped hills, sheep grazing behind the dead-ball lines and an idiosyncratic announcer, reminiscent of the legendary Stuart Hall, who was keen to remind his captive audience what underdogs the home side were.

Fast forward seven months and it will be a different face of Yorkshire that confronts the squad. The home-spun warmth of Threshfield is replaced by the mighty rugby arena of Headingley, home to both Leeds Carnegie and their Rugby League sister (but not in a girly way) club Leeds Rhinos.

There are key differences between the sibling sides, not restricted to the fewer numbers on the pitch, and the fact that Carnegie don't play Horny by Mousse T when they score a try. The Union side haven't had as much recent success as the Rhinos, but then the same could be said for any club in either code, and the pedigree of the Union game in Leeds should not be doubted. Read the history section below if you don't believe me.

As well as coping with the realisation that not all rugby grounds in Yorkshire are the same, the Jersey squad will also be facing at least two firsts: their first kick-off in recent memory outside the conventional Saturday afternoon slot, and the first time for several years they have travelled to England on a match-day.

The Friday slot is likely to reduce the size of the visiting contingent of supporters, however those remaining behind in the Channel Islands can console themselves with the dulcet tones of Olympic torch-bearer Richard Collinson, who will be broadcasting live on BBC Radio Jersey with co-commentator Tim Pryor.


News from the Jersey camp
Director of Rugby Ben Harvey makes three changes to his starting XV from the opening weekend, when the Islanders were defeated by Cornish Pirates by 20-6.

With Dai Bishop and Ed Dawson out through injury, a reshuffled back line sees Tom Cooper brought into the centre, Glenn Bryce and James Copsey on the wings, and Mike Le Bourgeois - a half-time replacement against the Pirates - promoted to wear the 15 shirt.

Seven of last Saturday's starting pack will line up at Headingley, the change coming at lock where Dave Markham earns a starting berth alongside skipper Nathan Hannay, with Rob Anderson moving to the replacements' bench.

Summer signing Fred Silcock, formerly of Loughborough Students, is in line to make his Jersey debut from the bench. Silcock will be one of five forwards among the Jersey subs, also including Kingsley Lang, who has recovered from injury and is ready to play his first game since March. Also called up to the squad is former Bristol wing Ashley Maggs, who is ready to start his fifth season as a Jersey player after being re-signed by Harvey in August.

"Leeds are a big club who have played at the top level, and Headingley is a great place to play," stated Harvey. "I know my squad will enjoy the experience of playing there, under lights, and if they play to their potential then I firmly believe we can beat anyone."

Jersey squad
1 Richard Barrington
2 Steve Boden
3 Ben Evans
4 Nathan Hannay (Capt)
5 Dave Markham
6 Talite Vaioleti
7 Guy Thompson
8 Nick Trower
9 Nicky Griffiths
10 Ross Broadfoot
11 James Copsey
12 Tom Cooper
13 Donovan Sanders
14 Glenn Bryce
15 Mike Le Bourgeois
Replacements
16 Dave Felton
17 Sean McCarthy
18 Rob Anderson
19 Kingsley Lang
20 Fred Silcock
21 Brendan O'Brien
22 Ashley Maggs


Leads about Leeds
Leeds Carnegie 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 has come right at the top of the club. Paul Caddick has 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 have also been changes in the coaching team. There will be a very familiar face missing from the dug-out next season after Team Manager John Carey left the club this summer 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 has been recruited as forwards coach, whilst former player Jon Pendlebury has joined the Academy coaching staff after being forced to retire this summer.

On the field the changes have also been 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 have left the club from last season.

In their place come 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.

Ins: Fred Burdon (Doncaster), Jamel Chisholm (Leeds Rhinos), David Doherty (Cornish Pirates), James Doherty (Cornish Pirates), Oli Goss (Doncaster), Joe Graham (Newcastle), Calum Green (Leicester), Josh Griffin (Castleford Tigers), Ben Harris (Rotherham), Ben Hooper (Rotherham), Lee Imiolek (Sale Sharks), Mike Myerscough (Cornish Pirates), Pearce Phillips (Darlington Mowden Park), Matt Smith (Cornish Pirates), Damien Tussac (Toulon).

Outs: Halani Aulika (London Irish), Tom Barrett (Doncaster), Scott Barrow (Fylde), Tommy Bell (London Wasps), Lee Blackett (Rotherham), Will Cliff (Sale Sharks), Jordan Davies (Sale Sharks), Gareth Denman (Rotherham), Tom Denton (Leinster), Scott Freer (Northampton on trial), Sean Hohneck (unattached), Mike MacDonald (unattached), Lachlan MacKay (Retired), Danny Paul (Retired), Jonathan Pendlebury (Retired), Ollie Richards (Newcastle), Alex Rieder (Rotherham), Robbie Shaw (unattached), Michael Stephenson (Percy Park), Phil Swainston (London Wasps), Iain Thornley (Wigan Warriors), James Tincknell (Doncaster), Andy Titterrell (Edinburgh), Dan White (Hull), Ed Williamson (London Welsh), Dave Young (Zebre), Cameron Zeiss (Esher).

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.

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 two changes to his side to face Jersey: the first comes in the backline with Josh Griffin coming in for his debut after signing last week from Super League club Castleford Tigers. The Oxford born centre has only played professionally in Rugby League but has joined Leeds Carnegie on a two-year contract. He scored 14 tries in 21 appearances this season for Castleford. He starts at centre with Pete Lucock replacing Curtis Wilson on the wing.

The other change comes in the forwards with Mike Myerscough swapping places with Calum Green after coming on as a replacement in last week's narrow defeat at Nottingham.

The Leeds' bench includes the pacy Jamel Chisholm, hooker Joe Graham, recently signed on a year's loan from Newcastle Falcons, and 19-year-old back-five forward Dominic Barrow, one of three Championship players in the current England Under 20 squad.

Leeds squad
15. Stevie McColl
14. Pete Lucock
13. Josh Griffin
12. Freddie Burdon
11. David Doherty
10. Joe Ford
9. James Doherty
1. Lee Imiolek
2. Phil Nilsen
3. Ben Hooper
4. Mike Myerscough
5. Dan Hemingway
6. Richard Beck
7. Jacob Rowan (capt)
8. Ryan Burrows
Replacements
16. Joe Graham
17. Ben Harris
18. Damien Tussac
19. Calum Green
20. Dominic Barrow
21. Craig Hampson
22. Jamel Chisholm

What's up, Doc?
Jersey will face former winger David Doherty. The Yorkshireman began his career with Leeds in 2004 before moving on to Sale and Wasps. He spent seven months on the Island in 2010/11, making 19 appearances and scoring 19 tries. He even had a few pops at goal, landing three conversions and a penalty. His last touch of the ball in a red shirt was the final try against Loughborough in the National Two play-off, before he moved to Cornish Pirates in summer 2011.

'Doc' spoke this week in the build-up to the game against his former club. The winger commented, "I am really looking forward to playing at Headingley Carnegie again under the lights on a Friday night. It was good to get a game under our belts last week at Nottingham but everyone is frustrated that we didn't get the win, we are determined to make amends for that on Friday.

"I have been to lots of Leeds Rhinos games on Friday nights and there is a special atmosphere at Headingley for night matches. I am sure the Leeds Carnegie fans will be in good voice to cheer the lads on as we kick off our home season. It is important that we perform well because history shows that it is vital to win your home games in this division," added Doherty.

Whilst Jersey are playing their first away game since promotion to the second tier of English club rugby, Doherty says that they will not be overawed by the occasion. He added, "Jersey are a great club and they will relish the challenge. They have a great coach and terrific group of players who have achieved a lot together. I have had some banter with the guys via text messages this week and they will see the chance to play at Headingley Carnegie as a great opportunity. We need to match that enthusiasm and make sure that we take the chances that we create."

Leeds Rugby Union: a historical cocktail
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.

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 only previous trip to Yorkshire, when they played the Wharfedale club of which he is now President last January, 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.


Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Leeds v Jersey through the following channels:
• Live commentary on BBC Jersey, available online and on your transistor-wireless device, with the show starting at 7pm
• Preview in Friday's JEP, and full match coverage on Saturday - paper in the shops first thing - in spite of fiendishly tight deadlines
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum


The Championship this weekend
Friday - Doncaster v Bristol
Saturday - London Scottish v Newcastle; Moseley v Nottingham
Sunday - Cornish Pirates v Plymouth Albion; Rotherham v Bedford

And finally
Other rugby attractions this weekend include the resumption of the other Championship, the one that used to call itself the Tri-Nations until Argentina barged their way in, and the physical encounter that is wheelchair rugby at the London Paralympics with Team GB hoping to 'medal' (to utilise one of the verbs of the moment).

Here in Jersey the final of the Doug Tranter Cup will take place at St Peter on Saturday, with Banks playing Jersey Athletic in a match held over from last season. The occasion will have added poignancy after the death last month of Sheila Tranter, who presented the trophy annually in memory of her late husband Doug, a former President of JRFC who died while running touch at a 1st XV game in 1999. Fittingly for an occasion devoted to two members of the old school, the game kicks off at 3pm.

Enjoy your weekend's rugby
Tom Innes

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