Preview to Wharfedale (h) 08.10.1107/10/2011
One of the largest-ever contingents of supporters from England are descending on Jersey for our first-ever meeting with Wharfedale this weekend.
The 'Green Army' from North Yorkshire, presumably not named after their collective carbon footprint, appear to have decided this was an opportunity not to be missed, and started to mobilise soon after the draft fixtures were released in late May.
Founded in 1923, Wharfedale are the longest-serving continuous member clubs at level three of the RFU pyramid (currently known as SSE National League One) after remaining unmoved for 15 straight seasons.
2010/11 saw a brush with relegation that was only averted in the final game of the season, a try by former Jersey favourite Talite 'Vee' Vaioleti earning the crucial bonus point against Redruth that kept his club above the trapdoor. The Cornishmen won the game, but were eventually relegated anyway.
Vee has now moved across Yorkshire to Rotherham, part of a summer personnel change that has seen a number of new young players join the Wharfedale squad. A large proportion of the squad remain local.
After losing their first match away at Macclesfield, Wharfe won well at home to Coventry but have since struggled with four successive defeats. Two of these were by narrow margins, including a 20-21 reverse at home against the Bees courtesy of a late penalty by Dan Hawkes. Last Saturday saw the sobering experience of conceding 50 points at home, to Ealing, for the first time in a league match in living memory, although the home team did manage 29 of their own. Wharfedale are 14th in the table with 8 points, 2 less than Jersey after this week's unfortunate points deduction.
Watch out for
Rob Baldwin - No 8 and inspirational captain. The man who interrupted his stag weekend celebrations this summer to represent England Counties on tour in Spain!
Tom Barrett - fly-half and playmaker who missed the start of the season through injury but is now back in the side.
Aaron Myers - livewire flanker, capped by England Sevens
John Spencer - England winger, with 14 caps. Not likely to play, but the Club President who played for his country 40 years ago is the heartbeat of Wharfedale.
The return fixture is on January 28th 2012. Wharfedale has been described as one of the most stunning sporting venues in the country, surrounded by rolling hills, with sheep grazing and flint walls behind the dead ball lines. Probably a bit nippy at that time of year, but a warm welcome off the field and some splendid real ales are apparently par for the course.
After a tough week, Jersey will be looking forward to getting back to the job in hand. A generally settled side features one 'new' face on the bench with former youth team hooker Luke Fisher (22) named on the bench.
1. Myles Landick
2. Charlie Clyde-Smith
3. Jon Brennan
4. Nathan Hannay
5. Jim Brownrigg
6. Paul Rodgers (c)
7. Guy Thompson
8. Graham Bell
9. Dave McCormack
10. Mike Le Bourgeois
11. Brendan O'Brien
12. Donovan Sanders
13. James Copsey
14. Ashley Maggs
15. Glenn Bryce
Bench: Ben Evans, Luke Fisher, Kingsley Lang, Nick Trower, Tom Turner
Kick-off is at St Peter at 3pm. Early arrivals can watch the England v France game at 8.30am, or a game of 'Oldies' touch between Jersey Wanderers and Old Oakmeadians at 11.30am.
If you can't make it to St Peter for the game, don't forget that you can keep up to speed with news 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 at 5.10pm on Saturday
• Highlights on Channel TV at 6.15pm on Monday, and online