Preview to Ayr (H) 12.10.13

09/10/2013

Stiffy, Stimmo, and a litre of milk - Jersey prepare piping hot welcome for Ayr

Ayr

And now for something slightly different, to mis-quote the Monty Python continuity man.

After four weeks of the new Championship season, it's time for a two-week break for the British & Irish Cup.

After making their B&I debut 12 months ago by hosting the Welsh Principality Premiership Champions, Pontypridd, Jersey are now awaiting the Champion Club of Scotland, Ayr.

The club from the west coast of Scotland, will make the longest journey by any team for a competitive match at St Peter, some 600 miles each way (the longest in the history of the B&I?!), in time for the 3pm kick-off on Saturday.

Ayr won three trophies last season, making them Scotland's leading club side of the moment, and there's the possibility of some international players being drafted in - see below. Jersey's Nick Campbell will be looking forward to the match - the giant lock played for both Ayr and Glasgow Warriors last season before his move south (but has missed out on selection, see below).

The visitors may be bringing, by all accounts, a rather smaller crowd of supporters than the Ponty hordes, but can still be assured of a warm welcome, even to the extent of pipers being on hand to serenade all and sundry. One observer, possibly after one too many pints of Tennent's, hailed this as the most significant display of entente cordiale between Scotland and the Channel Islands since Guernsey-born Budge Pountney opted to play international rugby for the land of his grandmother.

Last season the B&I provided a chance for Jersey to regroup after six straight league defeats, and the campaign began with a creditable draw against Ponty - tho' it should have been a win and a victory on the road against Leeds. This time around the Island side has a more solid record of P2 W2, but will still be looking to make a good start in a pool that also includes Cornish Pirates and Ulster 'A'.

The match should offer a good chance for both sides to see how they match up against 'foreign' opposition, with just a little less pressure to deliver a result and league points. It's to be hoped a decent crowd will be in attendance to see how it all plays out.

News from the Jersey camp

The Islanders were delighted to return home from the North Midlands with four points, a good start to what could be a difficult week. The RFU Charge against the club and back-row player Ben Maidment is due to be heard on Friday evening.

Director of Rugby Ben Harvey has aimed to have a business as usual feel to the week and it will be interesting to see whether he changes his squad this weekend. Game time is much-needed for some squad players, although it's hardly the stage of the season where front-line players should need rest, and Jersey will be keen to keep up some winning momentum ahead of a trip to Ulster that may be the toughest challenge in this season's group stage.

Fred Silcock is potentially available after a two-week suspension; and Harvey may be looking to go above the quota of English-qualified players (EQP) as each Championship club must select a set number in order to receive full RFU funding. This is based on an average of 16 EQPs in a month's worth of match-day squads, and having had only 15 at Nottingham, the October figure will need to be nudged down.

Strat

The Jersey squad was announce on Friday morning, as below, with a number of changes from the trip to Nottingham and seven players making their first competitive starts of the season. Young Luke Stratford (above) could make his first start for the senior side of his native Island, and home fans will be delighted to see another Jerseyman of a different vintage next to Luke on the bench - JB is back!

15      Jack Burroughs
14      James Copsey
13      Drew Locke
12      Tom Cooper
11      Ed Dawson
10      Aaron Penberthy
9        Jimmy Williams
1        Tom Fidler
2        David Felton
3        Nick Selway
4        Rob Anderson
5        David Markham
6        James Voss
7        Joe Buckle
8        Tom Brown (c)

16      Luke Stratford
17      Jon Brennan
18      Alex Rae
19      Ben Maidment
20      Joel Dudley
21      Niall O'Connor
22      Mark McCrea

Ayr in recent history, August 2012 to date

Ayr ended the season requiring an extension to the trophy cabinet at Millbrae. They took the Scottish Premiership title with room to spare and also ended the season holding the Bill McLaren Shield, a challenge trophy awarded for performances in both cup and league games in honour of the great man and slightly similar to the Ranfurly Shield in New Zealand, the so-called 'Log o' Wood' which dates back to 1902. And finally, they took the Scottish Cup in a thriller at Murrayfield, when Cameron Taylor scored a try in the 100th minute (Johnny Wilkinson territory) to seal a 28-25 win over Ayr.

Ayr became just the fourth club since the advent of league rugby in Scotland to clinch the league and cup double.

This year the Champions have had a mixed start and in fact are only fourth in the Scottish Premiership table at present, having suffered a home defeat by Melrose and a 20-19 reverse against Heriot's FP in their seven games this far. But they're only a couple of points behind leaders Melrose, and showed they may be 'hitting their straps' by scoring seven tries in walloping Hawick 48-10 at their Millbrae home last weekend.

There was a change in Head Coach for Ayr this summer, with Kenny Murray joining Pro 12 side Glasgow Warriors as Assistant Coach, and Peter Laverie promoted within after five years at Ayr.

Ayr potentially have members of the Scotland Elite Development Player (EDP) squad available for B&I action, according to THIS STORY on the SRU website, with star names like Al Kellock, Chris Cusiter and Stuart Hogg sprinkled tantalisingly. However it remains to be seen how many of these players are required for Heineken Cup action for Glasgow instead, so don't go getting too excited.

Another EDP, fly-half Finn Russell, could be one to watch, and Ayr have several new signings in the pack, including Scotland Under 20 prop James Malcolm, EDP hooker Fergus Scott and lock Graham Williamson. Look out too for French utility back Sylvain Diez, whose interests apparently include running with the bulls in Pamplona.

For news on the Ayr team and their thoughts on the match see HERE

History of Ayr Rugby

There's an extremely comprehensive history on the website of our visitors, telling all about the old days, their ground and some of the famous names they have produced. You can read it HERE - watch out for the mention of "outstanding club stalwart, the indefatigable Jock "Stiffy" McClure who played for the club until just short of his sixtieth birthday but was robbed of international caps by the Second World War."

Parish Notices

There will be a Scottish theme at St Peter, with pipers on hand to entertain the crowds, and there's also a special offer with season ticket holders invited to bring a friend for free. The offer is only available on match day from Gates 1&2 at the Clubhouse entrance. ST holders will need to show their ticket to receive a complimentary match day ticket free of charge for their guest.

There won't be a Friday night reception in the Pavilion this Friday, normal service will be resumed on Friday 25th October prior to the Plymouth game.

There are new arrangements for those travelling by car to St Peter this season. Please see the notice on this website on for details and allow extra time for your journey.


Following the Game

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

• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey on Friday from 5.30pm, 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, and full match coverage on Monday
* A visiting reporter will be filing match reports for both the Glasgow Herald and The Scotsman and their respective Sunday titles
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum
• Match report on Channel 103 on Saturday afternoon at 5.10pm
• 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

There are four all-Championship clashes, and it will be interesting to see whether the results conform to the league standings after four matches. Ealing Trailfinders, yet to win a match in four attempts and with 218 points against, might be looking to get some confidence-building results in the Cup, but they start with a daunting away trip to defending Champions Leinster 'A'.

Cornish Pirates host Ulster Ravens on Friday night, although the Pirates announced this week they are to abandon this experiment after disappointing ticket sales.

Friday October 11
Plymouth Albion v Nottingham Rugby (KO 19.45pm)
Cornish Pirates v Ulster Ravens (KO 19.45pm)
Saturday October 12
Llanelli v Connacht Eagles (KO 1400)
Leinster A v Ealing Trailfinders (KO 14.30)
London Welsh v London Scottish (KO 14.30)
Cross Keys v Moseley (KO 15.00)
Edinburgh Academicals v Pontypridd (KO 15.00)
Jersey v Ayr (KO 15.00)
Rotherham Titans v Bedford Blues (KO 15.00)
Munster A v Stirling County (KO 17.00)
Gala v Aberavon (KO 19.00)
Sunday October 13
Bristol Rugby v Leeds Carnegie (KO 15.00)


And Finally

Two Jersey players are currently gracing cartons of milk on the Island as part of a tie-up between Jersey Dairy, the club and local Stockbrokers and Investment Managers, Ravenscroft.

Milk

The innovation allows everyone in Jersey to have breakfast with Mark Foster and Latu Makaafi (above), and runs until the end of October.

There's plenty of rugby involving local sides in Jersey this weekend. Jersey Athletic play their third fixture in The Shield, an away match with Old Albanians, on Saturday, when there are also JRA clashes between LQ Lydian Lions and Guernsey (11.30am at LQ) and Banks v Beeches (12.30pm at Grainville). On Sunday Banks Ladies travel to Teddington, and there's a chance to see Jersey Colts test themselves against the Hampshire County side at St Peter at 12noon. St Jacques from Guernsey have an intriguing overseas tour this weekend with a fixture listed against Channel Island neighbours Herm.

Stimmo

A couple of hundred veteran rugby players are hoping for a quieter weekend after the rigours of the annual Jersey Vets tournament last weekend. Well done to the Super Frelons from France for winning it in a tight final against Denbigh from North Wales, and good to see former England (19 caps) and Lions (1) international Tim Stimpson (above) strutting his stuff in a distinctly recreational atmosphere with the visiting side from Kent, New Ash Green. Refreshing to see someone who's played at the top level who still enjoys the game enough to pull on his boots after a skinful the night before and have a run out with his mates.

Enjoy your weekend's rugby!
Tom Innes

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