Preview to Cornish Pirates (H) 16.11.13


RRRRs, exes and t'battle in Tbilisi

No fewer than five ex-Pirates 'RRRRR' in contention to play against their former club for Jersey (KO 3pm on Saturday at St Peter). Joe Buckle and Nicky Griffiths were in last season's Jersey squad, but at the end of 2012/13 three more Pirates headed across the Channel - Grant Pointer, Ben Maidment and Aaron Penberthy. Two of the transfers were confirmed on the pitch straight after Pirates had played Jersey on the final day of the league season by Head Coach Ian Davies. [Amendment - actually a sixth ex-Pirate, Drew Locke, will also line up. They are hard to keep track of!]

Pirates -Logo -250

Sadly another former Pirate, Tom Cooper, will be missing this weekend as he struggles to come to terms with another very serious knee injury, although Tom will be at St Peter and is expected to join the BBC Jersey commentary team for the match.

It is hoped the going at St Peter will be reasonably firm, something that looked unlikely at the start of the week. Jersey Met announced on Monday that the equivalent of an average November's worth of rain had fallen on the Island in the first 10 days of the month, and for 24 hours after that it never stopped either. But happily it has been largely dry since and this, and the improved drainage on pitch 1, should leave a good surface.

Pirates supporters reckon their backs will have the measure of Jersey's , but are worried about the home pack, especially with Cornish ranks up front depleted. Possible injury absentees are lock Laurie Sandford, prop Alan Paver, and an extraordinary number of back row players: Tom Duncan, Kyle Marriott, Joe Atkinson and Matt Bolwell. Oh, and Aaron Carpenter, a new signing this summer, is with his Canadian national colleagues in Romania - the two nations meet again, with boxing fans wondering if the encounter will be as feisty as Georgia v Canada in Tbilisi last weekend.

Jersey may not aspire to the pugilistic excesses of the Georgians, but they would like one thing that the 'Lelos' have got, namely a home fortress. Georgia haven't lost at their National Stadium home since 2003, whereas the Islanders were turned over by Plymouth Albion on home soil at the last time of asking.

News from the Jersey Camp

The home side will be desperate to get a win under their belts, having lost four straight matches, albeit that only one, against Plymouth, was on home soil. But last Sunday's 29-3 defeat at London Scottish was reckoned by most to be on the wrong side of the line marked 'acceptable', so look out for a reaction at St Peter this weekend.

The Jersey squad will be named on Friday at 12noon.

Head-to-head in 2012/13

Jersey 6 Pirates 20, Sept 2012 - match report HERE


Pirates 28 Jersey 24, Apr 2013 - picture above, with Jersey's Dave McCormack, in his last league appearance for the 1st XV prior to retiring, tackling Pirates' Peter Joyce in tandem with his colleague Sean McCarthy; match report HERE

Pirates in 2013/14

A superb start for the Cornishmen in the double-header at 'Shandy Park', defying the odds with a 23-21 triumph over a side tipped for the top, Bristol. The gloss came off with a home defeat by Leeds, 17-20, but was then re-applied with four straight wins, over Ealing and Moseley in the league and over Ulster and Ayr in the B&I.

Pirates came a distant second to all-conquering London Welsh at the Kassam (41-6) but have since won two tough encounters at home, scoring 16 points against London Scottish (who got 8) and Bedford (13).

Next month, Pirates and Jersey will play back-to-back encounters in the B&I Cup on 7th and 14th December before the return league match at the Mennaye Field on 2nd March.

History of the Pirates

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.

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. The match was kicked off by former England International Barrie Bennetts, then President of the Cornwall RFU.

Barrie _bennetts 1945_440px

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. [Stop Press - Stack's youngest son John, 18, a back row player, has been selected in the Pirates' squad to face Jersey, full details HERE]

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 last April. 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.

Following the game

Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v Pirates 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 coverage in the 'Inside Centre' pull-out in Saturday's paper (on sale from 7am) and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum
• Match preview on Channel 103 on Saturday afternoon
• 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 Greene King IPA Championship this weekend

At the bottom end of the table, Ealing have what seems like Mission Impossible, away at London Welsh on Sunday. Assuming the match at the Kassam goes to form, the other three sides in the bottom four will be looking to pull clear with home wins: Jersey against Pirates, Nottingham against Plymouth on Sunday, and Bedford vs Moseley on Friday evening. Blues head honch Mikey Rayer may need to study the table more closely, as he was quoted this week saying that Moseley would be tough as they would be "looking to move out of the bottom four" when Mose are in fact eighth.

Well away from the drop zone, Bristol face Rotherham at the Memorial Stadium on Sunday. At the start of the week the hosts were second, a point ahead of the Titans, but the RFU's point deduction has been officially imposed this week, so the visitors from Yorkshire will start the match ahead on points difference. The final match is  Saturday lunchtime affair between London Scottish (6th) and Leeds (4th).

And Finally

Having trailed my participation in Strictly Jersey, I will place on the record that I survived two nights earlier this week without falling over, dancing Argentine Tango and a Bollywood routine. The audience were lively, the judges were kind (or drunk, how else to explain a brace of 10s?!) and it was great fun. Sadly the podium spots remained out of reach for the Jersey RFC representative, but well done to Tim Pryor, BBC Jersey's Sports Editor and regular commentator on JRFC games, who triumphed on the first night. Just don't call him Twinkletoes...

Tim Ballroom

Other local rugby this weekend involves an away match for Jersey Athletic at Chinnor on Saturday, the same day as Banks host St Jacques from Guernsey at Grainville at 11.30am. On Sunday LQ Lydian Lions host HMP Panthers in a west-of-Island derby at LQ at 12.30pm, while Banks Ladies are away at Bracknell.

Enjoy your weekend's rugby!
Tom Innes

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