Preview to Pirates (A)


Survival, a trip back home, and the Falmouth Marine Band - Harvey cracks a smile

Jersey DoR Ben Harvey is a serious chap most of the time, certainly when he's on duty, but he's had trouble keeping a smile off his face this week.

Firstly his team earned a crucial win against Doncaster to put them on the brink of Championship survival, an achievement confirmed - after a couple of hairy moments - when the Yorkshire side were defeated at Bedford by 38-26.

Ben's excitement levels were high anyway as the final game of Jersey's Championship campaign approached - a return to his native Cornwall, to the club where his father Brett played for many years. Ben's been back to the county in a playing and coaching capacity before, but has never been i/c of a visiting team at the Mennaye. He could almost taste the pasties, the Cornish ale, the Jelberts ice cream...

Sedatives were then rushed to St Peter as Ben received two further pieces of news about the game: no, not the live streaming on Twitter (not his thing), but, firstly, an invasion of aunties and great aunties are travelling from across the SW to the game, including Auntie Jan, well-known for her acting work, especially in Howard's Way. And secondly, to cap it all, the Falmouth Marine Band will be playing ahead of kick-off. So if anyone in the Jersey camp wants any sensible advice from their grinning DoR, they might be best to seek it before the legendary musicians strike up at 2.40pm.

Falmouth _marine _band

The FMB on a recent outing, perfectly in time as ever

Harvey clearly has a lot of time for his home county's premier club, and the respect appears mutual, with Pirates Head Coach Ian Davies saying this week he saw Jersey as a top-half team next season ("mark my words," he added). This isn't guaranteed to translate to a thrilling game, but with the pressure off (Pirates play-off hopes having been ended by a recent run of poor form amid a challenging fixture schedule), and the sun out (albeit an unseasonal 11c), perhaps some end-of-season flair may be served up for what should be a decent crowd.

* late-breaking musical news. The Cadgwith Singers will be there as well!

News from the Jersey camp
Although illness and injury denies him four of the players from the team who played Doncaster, Harvey has selected a strong XV composed of front-line participants in this season's campaign.

In the pack, Sean McCarthy gets that start at loose-head; Richard Barrington is ill, although the reality is that the pair have interchanged throughout the season. There's no place for Leeds-bound Nathan Hannay in the engine room, while Joe Buckle starts at flanker against the team where he also spent time on loan earlier in the season, with Charlie Walker-Blair unfit.


Scrum-half Nicky Griffiths is denied a return trip to the club where he played in 2008/09 by injury, so Dave McCormack (above) returns to the breach. The fourth enforced absence from last weekend is injured full-back Barry Davies, whose place goes to Glenn Bryce. James Copsey drops to the bench, with Max Stelling slotting in at centre.


Jersey's bench includes two players who could make their Championship debut - prop Myles Landick (above) and scrum-half Joel Dudley have had injury-plagued seasons but returned to action in the B&I Cup two weeks ago.

Jersey squad, sponsored by Locate Jersey and
1 Sean McCarthy
2 Elvis Taione
3 Jon Brennan
4 Rob Anderson
5 Dave Markham
6 Fred Silcock
7 Joe Buckle
8 Guy Thompson

9 Dave McCormack
10 Michael Le Bourgeois
11 Ed Dawson
12 David Bishop (capt)
13 Max Stelling
14 Mark Foster
15 Glenn Bryce

Myles Landick
Dave Felton
James Gethings
James Voss
Joel Dudley
Donovan Sanders
James Copsey

Any Previous?
The two clubs met at St Peter on the first day of September, a sunny summer Saturday where a crowd of 2,470 (most of the 470 were from Cornwall) watched the division newbies take on the previous season's finalists.

Cornish Pirates -8073

After Jersey trailed just 3-8 at the break, Pirates pulled away to finish 6-20 winners with Matt Evans scoring a hat-trick (he remains top of the try-scoring pops with 14). See HERE for a full report.

Pirates in 2012/13
The men from the Mennaye started the season well with success in Jersey and a home win in the local 'cream tea' derby against Devon rivals Plymouth (the two counties disagree, among other things, on whether you should put the cream on your scone before the jam, as in Devon, or afterwards). Anyway, it was 19-17.

Pirates -Logo -250

A dip in form, including an 18-18 draw at Doncaster, and the first B&I window (Pirates eventually won their group before succumbing narrowly to Munster 'A' at home in the QF of a competition they take more seriously than some others), meant Pirates didn't register another league win until defeating Leeds at home at the end of October.

Pirates then had another away draw, 9-9 at Mose, went down 32-6 at Bedford, but had a rollicking 53-12 home win over Rotherham and a grittier 11-10 success against Nottingham. Home form has remained a key factor, with seven wins from 10 so far. On the road, the only success in 11 attempts since winning in Jersey was in completing the derby double - clotted cream on top - against Albion with a narrow 5-9 Boxing Day win.

The opening months of the New Year saw Bristol defeated handsomely at the Mennaye, where Doncaster were also despatched on February 10th, leaving Pirates sitting pretty in the play-off race. But since this time their form has dipped - just one home league match in 10 weeks (why do people complain about the fixture scheduling exactly?!) in which Moseley were defeated 17-14, but six league defeats in that period to end any prospect of a top-four place.

To be fair to Pirates, the six defeats included visits to the four likely play-off teams, including 50-3 at Kingston Park. Last week, in the space of five days, they made trips to Rotherham and Nottingham, taking part in two try-fests where the line was breached 19 times in all in scorelines of 41-28 and 28-26. Perhaps this factor, and the prospect of a dry day this Saturday, with the pressure off to some extent, indicates we may have another high-scoring affair on our hands? /*sits back and waits for dreary 6-6 draw to unfold*/

The Pirates squad for the game will be announced on Friday morning on the club's website and added here later in the day as travel arrangements permit. Here it is now!!

There will inevitably be a range of emotions felt about the Mennaye Field, with it already known that prop Paul Andrew is off to Worcester Warriors and flanker Phil Burgess is joining the England 7s squad. Also on Saturday it will be a 136th and last game in a Cornish Pirates shirt for Wes Davies, who will receive a warm applause as he emerges first out of the stand tunnel and onto the field. Prop Ryan Storer, who last week made his 100th appearance for the club away to Rotherham, will also be shown worthy appreciation when he gets his call off the bench in front of the home crowd.

Cornish Pirates: K. Moyle, W. Davies, T. Riley, S. Hill, M. Evans, K. Hallett, G. Cattle (capt), B. Maidment, P. Burgess, J. Tyas, G. Johnson, D. Lyons, P. Joyce, D. Semmens, P. Andrew.

Replacements: R. Storer, W. Tanner, M. Maidment, L. McGlone, A. Cheesman, T. Kessell, B. Mercer.

Referee: Tom Foley (RFU) Assistants: Jonathan Healy & James Minards

Cornish Pirates history

The early days of rugby in West Cornwall saw Penzance and Newlyn as rival clubs who waged some feisty battles on the pitch to determine local bragging rights. Penzance, formed in 1876 and Newlyn, who started in 1894, actually stopped playing each other from 1929-32 because of public order concerns. Food for thought with the annual Jersey v Guernsey encounter just around the corner!

However the entente became rather more cordiale towards the end of the 1930s and in 1945 the clubs merged, playing their first game against Guy's Hospital on September 22nd of that year (odds on a Channel Islands' merger - anyone?!).

The 1950s was a golden era, with crowds of 5,000 or more not uncommon, and two P&N players, John Kendall Carpenter and John 'Ginger' Williams being capped for England in the 1951 Calcutta Cup.


In 1969 the legendary prop Brian 'Stack' Stevens (above) made his England debut, going on to earn 25 caps including a try in the incredible away win in New Zealand in 1973 - worth seeking out on Youtube.

The Pirates (the nickname was upgraded to a proper name in 2005) have continued to have a sprinkling of internationals, although in recent years it's been a more cosmopolitan affair, including Victor Olonga (Zimbabwe), Villi Ma'asi (Tonga), Heino Senekal (Namibia) and Stan McKeen (Canada). Hooker Rob Elloway, was twice capped for Germany, the land of his birth, in 2009-10.

When league rugby began in 1987/88 the Pirates (P&N) were in the Cornwall and Devon League, but the club had a steady run of success culminating in their arrival at level two in 2003. So far, that's as high as they have reached, although there remain great ambitions to emulate Devon neighbours Exeter and establish a Cornish presence at the top level of the English game.

Building a stadium is a key factor in the Pirates top-level ambitions, and after a long campaign the Stadium for Cornwall in Truro was granted planning permission earlier this month. There's still a long way to go, but it is hoped that the green light from planning authorities may help the club clear the major financial and other hurdles which remain.

In the meantime, it is hoped to upgrade Mennaye Field for the remainder of its time as the Pirates' home, including floodlights which are now lacking at only two Championship clubs (Rotherham is the other). The changes are being spearheaded by Chairman and long-time benefactor Dicky Evans, alongside the former England international Josh Lewsey (55 caps for his country and three for the Lions), who recently joined the club as CEO & Performance Director (and is pictured below).

Josh -lewsey _1246069c

The Championship this Saturday
Main interest focuses on the lower reaches of the race for play-off positions. Bedford, Leeds and Bristol are fighting over two remaining slots, with the team finishing highest (i.e. 3rd) having the benefit of avoiding Newcastle in the semi-finals. Jersey still harbour hopes of overtaking Moseley, and perhaps even Plymouth, but this would involve getting a win over the Pirates

Leeds v Nottingham; Moseley v Bedford; Doncaster v Plymouth; Rotherham v London Scottish; Newcastle v Bristol (all KOs at 3pm)

Home Tweet Home
A new innovation by the RFU will see the first ever live streaming of a game via the social media site Twitter, supporters of the two clubs having joined forces to ensure the match topped the RFU's poll, claiming 29% of the votes.

Twitter -logo

Those people who've been scratching their heads about how you watch a rugby match on Twitter need not be embarrassed - it's never happened before!

Fortunately, according to the RFU at least, it shouldn't be a massive technical challenge. The following information may help:

* Setting up a Twitter account is straightforward via after which users should find and follow @rfuchampionship
* A video player will be embedded at the top of the @rfuchampionship page on which the game will be shown, with the usual tweets and other information beneath
* The broadcast will start at 2.45pm with pre-match interviews and team news; commentary will be provided by former radio journalist Mark Stevens, now the Exeter Chiefs' press officer, with summariser Chris Morgan, the injured Pirates flanker
* Towards the end of the game there will be an opportunity to vote for the man-of-the-match - instructions will be provided - and to send questions to the teams' coaching staff, to be answered after the final whistle. Use the hash-tag #rfuchamplive if you want to get interactive
* As with any other issues involving internet access, a reliable and fast broadband connection is likely to be the single biggest factor in ensuring a good quality picture.

Following the game
Don't forget that, as well as Twitter you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v Pirates through the following channels:

• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey from 5.30- 6pm on Friday, and live commentary on Saturday afternoon (available online and on your transistor-wireless device
• Preview in Friday's JEP, and full match coverage on Monday
• TV coverage on the Channel TV website, and on local (CI) ITV at around 6.15pm on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum
• Match report on Channel 103 FM soon after 5pm on Saturday, plus updates during the match

The Pirates' website is well worth a look including a preview from their perspective and lots of info including an extended history.

And Finally
Maybe it's end of season excitement, but there are loads of 'and finallys' jostling for position this week. To hell with it, let's use 'em all!

It's the Junior Siam Cup weekend, with all age groups from under 7 (is that months- or years-old?) to Colts taking on their Channel Island rivals Guernsey, who this week mounted a virtual takeover of Saturday's Condor sailing with a booking for 405 people for the return trip to Jersey. Games will take place throughout the day with more details of the Siam festival, sponsored by Ronez, on the Academy website.

Three adult games of note in Jersey over the next few days - a touring side from Huddersfield will take on both Banks (Saturday, 2pm at Grainville) and LQ (Sunday, 12noon at St Peter), [pls note amended, correct times] while next Wednesday there is an evening match at St P, Banks playing Jersey Athletic in the Sugden Cup semi-final (winner plays LQ on May 8th)

One Jersey supporter, anticipating a landmark occasion, rang during mid-season to ask about availability at the pre-match lunch. When told that space for individual bookings was fully occupied, he changed tack, and subsequently part-emulated the late great Victor Kiam, who liked Remington razors so much he bought the company. This explains why the official match-sponsor of Cornish Pirates v Jersey will be Mike Edmunds' 60th Birthday - have a canny birthday Mike!

Let's hope that match referee Tom Foley wraps up warm, we wouldn't want him emulating last weekend's official. International ref Andrew Small took charge of Jersey v Doncaster, but was taken ill later in the day and subsequently hospitalised and diagnosed with pneumonia. Happily 'Sir' was well enough to be discharged on Wednesday and was scheduled to fly back to England today (Friday).

A healthy contingent of Jersey fans is expected at the Mennaye, the fixture was one that many were looking out for once promotion was achieved 12 months ago this weekend, and with a late season slot and more than 10 months' notice, it became a must. Some plans were affected, tho' we hope not drastically so, by the cancellation of Thursday's Condor ferry from Jersey to Poole, so perhaps Clive Pearce's option wasn't such a bad idea - the loyal fan and unofficial brand ambassador for Liberation Ale was heading to St Malo with his motorbike, riding to the western Breton port of Roscoff and crossing to Plymouth before heading over the Tamar into Cornwall.

Whether you're following on Twitter, cheering on Jersey's juniors against the old enemy, or heading to the Mennaye...

Enjoy your weekend's rugby! (can you tell I'm excited?!)
Tom Innes

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