Preview to Nottingham (A)04/10/2012
Islanders look to get their party started on 'pink' Sunday at Meadow Lane
Jersey players and supporters face an unprecedented Sunday service at Meadow Lane this weekend. No members of the visiting squad are likely to be unavailable for religious reasons, as internationals Euan Murray and Michael Jones have been in the past, but maybe some from the Island camp might do an Aretha Franklin and say a little prayer as their team strive for that elusive opening Championship win.
Nottingham have no such worries and are busy making the final preparations for the annual Ladies Day: tidying behind the sofa, clearing the dirty kit out of the washroom, putting the toilet seats down etc.
The Midlanders, who will be wearing a one-off pink kit to raise money for breast cancer awareness (read more about their splendid efforts here - visiting fans please get involved!), are sitting pretty in pink, I mean fourth spot in the Championship, with three wins - and it could have been more, but for the late, late show by Bedford at Goldington Road two weeks ago, with victory secured in the 93rd minute. This prompted calls for official match clocks from Green-and-Whites' boss Martin Haag, and some jealousy in Jersey when Bedford hung on the week later and just three minutes of over-time were added.
The sixth round of the Championship is the last one before a fortnight's break, during which the British & Irish Cup will commence. Both sides will have hymns - and arias - ringing in their ears by the end of the following weekend, with Jersey hosting an army of Pontypridd fans to their Mediterranean location, and Notts' heading to Llandovery, one of the principality's most remote rugby clubs (all the way down the M4, past Swansea, turn right, keep going).
News from the Jersey camp
Touching wood at every turn, Jersey DoR Ben Harvey has had more players returning from injury in the past few weeks than succumbing. This leaves him with potentially up to 10 fit players who didn't feature against Bedford. Some may get their chance this weekend, others may have to hope for some B&I rotation the weekend after.
New signing Barry Davies went off injured against Blues but is expected to be back in contention, and Harvey's main dilemma may come at half-back, where he has to choose between Dave McCormack, fit-again Nicky Griffiths, Brendan O'Brien and Joel Dudley at 9, and Ross Broadfoot or Mike Le Bourgeois at 10. Should Davies play at full-back, wing isn't easy either, with potentially five candidates: top-scorer Glenn Bryce, Tom Cooper (also a centre), Ed Dawson, James Copsey and Ed Tellwright.
Jersey supporters were delighted to see former captain Paul Rodgers back in action last weekend after almost a year on the sidelines although it remains to be seen whether the Kiwi has forced his way into the starting XV.
The Jersey squad sponsored by Locate Jersey and
1. Sean McCarthy
2. Steve Boden
3. Ben Evans
4. Nathan Hannay (capt)
5. Dave Markham
6. Kingsley Lang
7. Fred Silcock
8. Guy Thompson
9. Nicky Griffiths
10. Mike Le Bourgeios
11. Ed Dawson
12. Dai Bishop
13. Donovan Sanders
14. Glenn Bryce
15. Barry Davies
16. Dave Felton
17. Richard Barrington
18. James Gethings
19. Paul Rogers
20. Nick Trower
21. Dave McCormack
22. Ashley Maggs
Nottingham in 2012/13
A new Head Coach was appointed in the summer, with former Bath lock Haag taking over following Glenn Delaney's departure after seven years to join London Irish as Forwards Coach. The 47-year-old played 295 times for Bath and won two England caps, both against Argentina in 1997. He has coaching experience both at Bath and in the England Under 18 and Under 20 set-ups.
Haag and Jersey's Ben Harvey have encountered each other on the field at least once, after Haag started to wind down his career in his home county of Cornwall: in March 2003 they were on opposing sides in level three when Penzance & Newlyn (a.k.a. the Cornish Pirates) hosted Stourbridge. Harvey landed three kicks for the visitors but they were defeated 44-18 by the Pirates.
As well as Delaney, another major departure was that of the long-serving Craig Hammond, the stalwart lock departing for a new career in Hong Kong after more than 10 years' service and 267 starts for Notts. This record has subsequently been reclaimed by David Jackson, who passed Hammond during September.
This year's squad is a good mix of youth and experience, with some new signings but not the revolving door process that occurs annually at many clubs.
Pulling the strings in the back-line from fly-half will be James Arlidge (pictured above), 33, a Kiwi by birth who qualified to play for Japan through playing there from 2004-08, before moving to the Dragons in Wales in 2008 and Nottingham two years later. Arlidge has won more than 30 caps for the 'Cherry Blossoms' (one of my favourite country nicknames in rugby, although there'll be a better one in next week's preview) and played in the World Cup this time last year.
Also in the backs, look out for another New Zealander, Sean Romans, wearing number 9, the long-serving Jackson on the wing and another old hand, Andrew Savage, who is starting his seventh season in green-and-white.
In the forwards, yet another NZ-born player, Brent Wilson, is one of the leading flankers in the division, having joined Notts from Newcastle midway through last season. He is joined in the back row by number 8 Alex Shaw, who has been on the books of eight clubs in spite of being only 25.
New signing from Leeds Joe Quinn will contest the second-row spots with Dan Montagu and Nic Rouse, while the front row has a strong Leicester influence. Hooker Joe Duffey and props Michael Holroyd, Matt Parr and Ryan Bower have all played for the Tigers at various points in their careers; Bower is a dual-registered player who was on the recent trip to Jersey and came on as a replacement in the friendly at St Peter.
Nottingham began the season with a narrow 34-29 win over Leeds on the final day of August and then played fellow Midlanders (if not quite a derby) Moseley, winning 28-17 at Billesley Common.
There followed a close tussle at Meadow Lane against Rotherham, with the scores 9-9 on the hour. However a penalty try on 63 minutes helped the visitors break the deadlock and with eight points from McKinney's boot and a late try by Sheridan, Roth were away and clear at 27-9 before the hosts claimed a last minute consolation to narrow the gap to 27-16.
The agony of the last-minute (27-25) defeat to Bedford after an impressive display was soothed last weekend wihen London Scottish were put to the sword 54-9. The Green-and-Whites scored seven tries, including braces by Jackson and centre Tim Streather.
1. Matt Parr
2. Joe Duffey
3. Michael Holford
4. Dan Montagu
5. Nic Rouse
6. Rupert Cooper
7. Brent Wilson (capt)
8. Alex Shaw
9. Sean Romans
10. John Arlidge
11. Rhys Crane
12. Joe Munro
13. Tim Streather
14. Jack Cobden
15. Andrew Savage
16. Scott Wright
17. Johnny Harris
18. Joe Quinn
19. Tom Calladine
20. Finaly Barnham
21. Rory Lynn
22. Joe Cobden
History of Nottingham RFC
The club was formed in 1877 by former Rugby School pupil Alick Birkin, who returned to his home city and recruited some friends to play the game he'd enjoyed at the school where William Webb Ellis invented it some 50 years previously.
The Birkin family were involved in Nottingham rugby until the mid 1950s, including the donation of land at Ireland Avenue, Beeston, in 1904 by Alick's brother Leslie - this was the club's home for more than a century until it was sold in 2006.
Nottingham have spent most of the 25 seasons of the league era at level two, now the Championship - the club first entered this league in the early 90s, and though relegated in 1996/97 they were back after being runners-up at level three in 2003/04. Since then the club's best finish has been third in 2007/08, but they have failed to make an impact in the promotion play-offs in the past three seasons, with a trio of identical finishes - fifth in the regular season, third in their promotion pool.
The club is owned by Meadow Lane plc, which also owns Notts County FC, and have played at Meadow Lane since 2006.
Famous sons (no, not that Hood bloke)
VH Cartwright was Nottingham's first England player, winning 14 caps in the early 1900s and subsequently becoming President of the RFU.
The 1980s was a golden era, with Nottingham runners-up in the National Merit Table in 1985/86 and having no less than five England caps during the decade: Gareth Rees, Rob Andrew, Brian Moore, Chris 'Swing Low' Oti and Simon Hodgkinson, as well as the Scotland lock Chris Gray.
Recent internationals include James Arlidge, the US full-back Chris Wyles (now at Saracens) and the New Zealand lock Ali Williams, who played a month of rugby with the Green-and-Whites as part of a successful return from injury in early 2011. That's successful as in he won the World Cup 10 months later...
Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Nottingham v Jersey through the following channels:
* Live commentary on BBC Jersey, available online and on your
transistor-wireless device, with the show starting at 2pm
* Preview in Friday's JEP, and full match coverage on Monday
* Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum
* Coverage on Channel TV and BBC Channel Islands TV on Monday evening
The Championship this weekend
Friday - Leeds v Doncaster
Saturday - London Scottish v Cornish Pirates; Rotherham v Bristol; Moseley v Newcastle; Bedford v Plymouth Albion
Sunday - Nottingham v Jersey
It would be wrong to preview this game without mentioning the terrible loss suffered by Nottingham in August when promising and popular 21-year-old lock Mitch Todd was killed in a road traffic accident. Todd played in Jersey last season while on loan at Birmingham & Solihull and was set to challenge for first team honours in 2012/13, having returned to Notts. JRFC would like to send belated but heart-felt sympathies to Mitch's family and everyone else at the club who knew him.
On the home front, the main rugby attraction in Jersey this weekend is the annual Barclays Veterans Super 10's competition, which will feature 13 teams of gentlemen 'of a certain age' anxious to show youngsters how to play the game in old-school fashion, with camaraderie off-the-field matching some slow-motion flashes of skill on it. Three teams from France and three from the Channel Islands will be joined by St Agnes (Cornwall), Denbigh (Wales), Leeds/Ossett (Yorkshire), Chippenham (Wilts) and composite sides from Wimborne and Consett, Richmond Heavies and the RAF, and Old Freemen's and Old Streetonians.
The action in the Vets' event runs from around 12noon on Saturday and from 11.15am until 2.45pm the following days and spectators are welcome.
Enjoy your weekend's rugby