Preview to London Scottish (H)

26/10/2012

Amor, lost Love and bitten fingernails - Jersey welcome London Scottish

Scots

The RFU Championship swings back into action after a two-week hiatus for the opening rounds of the British & Irish Cup.

The B&I may be a distraction, but it's one that's been more welcome for Jersey, who snapped a run of six league defeats by drawing against Pontypridd and defeating Leeds Carnegie.

The Scots have been involved in two close battles, but ended on the wrong end of narrow defeats at Gala (23-27) and at home to Moseley (37-41). Three bonus points were harvested in consolation, meaning Simon Amor's men still maintain an outside chance of contending for the knock-out stages.

The results above confirm statistics showing that London Scottish supporters have, on average, the shortest fingernails in UK rugby. Highlights of this 'seat-of-the-pants' approach have come in the final games of the last two seasons. In May 2011 promotion was literally snatched from Barking's hands when David Howells intercepted in the final minute of the National One decider and raced the length of the pitch. A year later and relegation was at stake in another winner-takes-all encounter against Esher, and the Scots secured their Championship place thanks to another late interception, this time by Charlie Hayter (yes, the same man who scored a hat-trick at St Peter for Moseley six weeks ago).

While the 7th-placed Scots will be determined to stay clear of relegation troubles this time around, Jersey know that a win is crucial. 11th-placed Doncaster were another club to register some improved results in the B&I, and success for the Knights in Friday's home match with Moseley could open a gap on Jersey that the Islanders would be anxious to close straight away. But a win for Moseley at Castle Park would offer the prospect of Jersey hauling themselves off the bottom of the Championship table with victory at St Peter, so expect the highest levels of determination from both sides.

There's every chance the clash with Jersey could be a high-scoring encounter, as it features the two sides who have conceded the most points and tries in the league thus far - Jersey 214/ 25 and Scottish 228/ 28. Although sod's law could yet have a say in setting up much lower-scoring affair - the beauty of rugby is that you can never be quite sure.

News from the Jersey camp
Ben Harvey keeps faith with most of his personnel from the successful trip to Yorkshire, as Jersey look to bring their improved cup form into the league.

In the forwards, skipper Nathan Hannay and his predecessor Paul Rodgers return to the starting XV, swapping places with Dave Markham and James Voss, who both return to the bench.

O -brien Brendan

In the backs, the only change to the starting XV see Brendan O'Brien (above) come in for Dave McCormack, the same switch that occurred in the 25th minute of the Leeds game when McCormack suffered a groin injury.

"The players who were in action last weekend really stepped up and deserve another chance," states Harvey. "Brendan had a great game to cancel out the blow of losing an influential player like 'Macca'.

"Nathan had an hour's rest at the start of the Leeds game, and then another 10 minutes in the sin-bin after he came on, so he is fresh and raring to make a positive impact this weekend."

Jersey squad, sponsored by Locate Jersey and jersey.com
1 Sean McCarthy
2 Steve Boden
3 James Gethings
4 Rob Anderson
5 Nathan Hannay (capt)
6 Paul Rodgers
7 Kingsley Lang
8 Guy Thompson
9 Brendan O'Brien
10 Mike Le Bourgeois
11 Ed Dawson
12 Ashley Maggs
13 Donovan Sanders
14 James Copsey
15 Glenn Bryce

Replacements
16 Richard Barrington
17 Jon Brennan
18 James Voss
19 Dave Markham
20 Nick Trower
21 Ed Tellwright
22 Barry Davies

Any previous?
In a word, no. The two sides haven't met before, not even in a tour game. And links between the clubs are surprisingly few and far between (unless I've missed any). From the Jersey camp, Ben Harvey and Guy Thompson both used to play at the Richmond Athletic Ground, but that was in the colours of Richmond, not Scottish.

Former JRFC Chairman Cliff Chipperfield did play for London Scottish in the early 1980s while he was a student in London, and anyone who's interested (form an orderly queue please) can ask Cliff to point out some pictures of himself in the Scottish clubhouse when the return match takes place on March 2nd.

London Scottish in 2012/13
Director of Rugby Simon Amor has had a busy summer with plenty of new signings coming in both on and off the pitch as he prepared the squad to improve on last season's 9th place finish.

Amor said: "It's been a busy summer of recruitment, both with the players and the support staff; it has been really non-stop since the final whistle against Esher. We need to kick on from our first season in the Championship and we have learnt a lot of lessons of the type of game that is played in the Championship. It's important we improve on the 9th place finish from last year."

Scottish had the start they wanted with a 26-20 opening weekend success over Rotherham at the RAG, but the luck of the draw saw them face Newcastle Falcons the following weekend. The match was lost by 32-49, although the margin was the smallest for the Falcons so far (equal with their 37-20 opening day win at Brizzle).

The challenge didn't get any lesser for the Scots as they went to Bedford, and lost 55-20, but they recovered to notch wins at home to Doncaster (37-26) and the Pirates (25-24), rudely interrupted by a 54-9 drubbing at Nottingham.

Amor

Simon Amor (above) is the youngest Head Coach/ DoR in the Championship at 33-years-old. He has been at the club for four years and played around 80 games in four seasons. He became Head Coach in May 2010 and DoR 18 months later, and has not yet laced up his boots this season in a playing capacity.

Amor was a sevens specialist until his arrival at the RAG, including helping his country to four successive Hong Kong Sevens titles in the mid-noughties as England belatedly proved they could take the reduced form of the game seriously and achieve success in it. During this period he was also on the books of Gloucester and Wasps but his 15-a-side game time was limited by sevens commitments.

Scottish make three changes to the backline from their 37-41 defeat to Moseley in the B&I Cup, with Dave McCall and Miles Mantella replacing James Love and Gerard Mullen on the wings and Andy Reay drops to the bench with Oli Grove replacing him at outside centre.

The loss of Love is a blow to the visitors - the former Plymouth man (247 points last season) made a stunning start to his time chez Ecosse with all 26 points against the Titans on September 2nd.

Fly-half Phil Godman has won 18 caps for Scotland, although he has not represented his country since the Calcutta Cup draw with England in March 2010.

In the front row, props Mark Irish and Aaron Liffchak come in for Alex Clarke and Colin Quigley and there is one change in the second row, with Paul Spivey replacing Sam Twomey.

Director of Rugby Simon Amor has paid credit to his side's opponents and their progress in recent years: "Jersey's rise through the leagues has been very similar to London Scottish's. What has been achieved in recent seasons under the guidance of Ben Harvey, who I have huge respect for as a coach, has been fantastic.

"We are aware of how difficult a place it is to go and play at Jersey, and we will have to be at our absolute very best in both attack and defence to get a result."

London Scottish squad:

15 Jim Thompson
14 Dave McCall
13 Oli Grove
12 PJ Gidlow
11 Miles Mantella
10 Phil Godman
9 Richard Bolt
1 Mark Irish
2 Adam Kwasnicki
3 Aaron Liffchak
4 Paul Spivey
5 Tyler Hotson
6 Chevvy Pennycook
7 Ben Lonergan
8 Mark Bright

Replacements
16 Alex Clarke
17 Marcus Bloomberg
18 Colin Quigley
19 Alex Karonias
20 Ben Russell
21 Ross Samson
22 Andy Reay

London Scottish - two to watch
Dave McCall. 25 year old Scotsman Dave McCall joined London Scottish from Rotherham Titans in the summer. He has immediately bedded into life at The Athletic Ground having been to school with club captain Lewis Calder and then joined later in the summer by fellow school mate Ross Samson.

Dave Mc Call

With Heineken Cup rugby experience under his belt from his time at Glasgow, McCall brings a wealth of experience to the London Scottish back line.

Jim Thompson. The 27 year old Scotland A and Scotland Sevens international already has a London Scottish connection as the nephew of 2012 London Scottish Hall of Fame Inductee, Alan Lawson. His cousin, Gregor Lawson, is also a former London Scottish player.

Jim Thompson

Thompson, a regular with the Scotland Sevens side, joined up with the London Scottish squad in early August. London Scottish worked closely with the Scottish Rugby Union to bring Thompson to the club and he brings a wealth of experience into the London Scottish backs, having recently been a part of Edinburgh's impressive 2011/12 Heineken Cup campaign, scoring in the semi final v Ulster.

History of London Scottish FC

Like many fine institutions, London Scottish FC was formed in a pub, namely Mackay's Tavern in the City of London on April 10th 1878. The club adopted the colours they still wear to this day, albeit with fewer sponsors' logos, and in the first season were captained by their Chairman, Begbie Gibson. The first season featured 15 matches, and three of the opposing clubs are still in existence - Wasps, Twickenham and Guy's Hospital.

Bill MacLagan captained the club in the 1880s for five seasons and was the first player to win a cap for Scotland. The club continued to thrive adding respected opponents like Oxford and Cambridge Universities and Harlequins to the fixture list and after a short period at Lee and then Brondesbury, moved to Old Deer Park in Richmond as tenants of Richmond Cricket Club and then in 1894 to their present ground the Richmond Athletic Ground, which they share with Richmond Football Club.

The club prospered, establishing an excellent playing reputation and attracting many fine players who represented their country, some of whom went onto play for the British Lions. In fact since the club was formed, this heritage has produced in the region of 220 Scottish Internationals and the same number of Lions captains as Leicester Tigers with four (MacLagan, David Bedell-Sivright in 1903/4, Mike Campbell-Lamerton in 1966 and Gavin Hastings in 1993).

Other Scottish internationals worthy of mention include a proliferation of back-row men - Mike Biggar, Rob Wainwright, Derek White and Ian Smith - as well as Paul Burnell, Alastair McHarg, Allan Lawson and Kenny Logan. Logan scored the last try of his competitive career for Scottish in December 2005 in a fiery encounter against Richmond, won 27-25 by the landlords.

The South African Jannie de Beer was the best-known 'overseas' players during the short-lived time in the Premiership (see below).

The club began the league era in 1987 at level two, and by 1998 were a full-professional unit playing in the Premiership. However this was also the season that the professional club went into administration, necessitating a year out while the original club was reformed and placed into Herts/ Middlesex Division One (level nine) in 2000.

Four successive promotions kick-started the revival, and in the past six seasons Scottish have been promoted on three further occasions to return to their original status when the leagues began 25 years ago. To call it a roller-coaster might do inadequate justice to the ride.

Coming to St Peter
Don't forget it's a 2pm start. 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. Later on Friday, the Barclays Pavilion will be open for an eve-of-match reception open to all supporters, with the chance to have a pint, enjoy some free nibbles and pick up your tickets. Tickets will then be on sale on the gate from 11.30am on Saturday, with the ground and facilities open from then onwards.

Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v London Sccottish through the following channels:
• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey's 'Sportscene' from 6- 7pm on Friday, and live commentary on Saturday afternoon (available online and on your transistor-wireless device
• Preview in Friday's JEP, more rugby in Saturday's Inside Centre pull-out, including plenty of Welsh-related content, and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum
• Match report on Channel 103 soon 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 Championship this weekend
Friday: Doncaster v Moseley; Newcastle v Rotherham
Saturday: Plymouth v Nottingham
Sunday: Bristol v Bedford; Cornish Pirates v Leeds

And finally
While there wasn't much previous in respect of the two teams, there will be a familiar face in charge of tomorrow's game. In 2009 some sadist at Twickenham thought it would be a good idea to appoint an up-and-coming 21-year-old referee to the annual Siam Cup clash between Jersey and Guernsey. The game in which seasoned international ref Donal Courteney had struggled to maintain control just four years previously.

Luke

Anyway, Luke Pearce (above) survived the potential ordeal (Jersey won 34-6), and the noisy evening in the clubhouse which followed it, and has since gone on to the Premiership and the IRB Sevens circuit. It's great to see him back - the second Pearce on duty at St Peter this season after his father Andrew was Touch Judge for the pre-season game against Leicester.

Other rugby action this weekend sees the Jersey Colts team take on Hereford Cathedral School at 11am on Saturday at St Peter. The same day Beeches play Jersey Wanderers, also at 11am, while at 1pm Banks Ladies host Guildford in a league encounter. On Sunday Jersey Athletic host Guernsey 2nds at St Peter, starting at 12.30.

Enjoy your weekend's rugby
Tom Innes

 

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