Preview to Leeds (A) 24.11.1323/11/2013
Where hast thou been since I saw
Jersey have made no fewer than six trips in the past 15 months to the county known as 'God's Own' to its residents. And no wonder they name it thus - not only does Yorkshire boast famous sons like Frankie Howerd, Guy Fawkes and Captain James Cook, but it managed enough Olympic medals to have finished 12th - independence permitting - in the medals table at London 2012, and they're even getting a couple of stages of next year's Tour de France.
Headingley is one of the county's sporting temples. It may be best known for hosting cricket and rugby league, but the union code also has a presence here, and the ground will play host to Sunday's Greene King IPA Championship match between Leeds Carnegie and Jersey.
Jersey will hope to build on a nerve-wracking, partly fortuitous but also gritty win against Cornish Pirates last weekend, sealed in the last four minutes with a Tom Brown try and two fine place-kicks by Niall O'Connor, the second a 45-metre penalty with the game's final act. But it's a tough act for the Island side, given that they are away from home against a side who lie fourth in the table and have an eye on the promotion play-offs and a possible tilt at the Premiership. Not only that, but the home side have a point to prove after a disappointing 26-15 defeat against London Scottish at the RAG last weekend.
The sub-plot to Sunday's game includes a couple of Jersey old boys who have been confirmed in the Leeds' starting XV for Sunday.
Nathan Hannay joined Leeds in the summer, although it was mid-winter when the giant Halifax-born lock was first linked with Carnegie, prompting an unsettling end to three seasons in Jersey.
The man whose Twitter handle is @jerseybeast4 signed for the Islanders in the summer of 2010 and made more than 50 appearances for the 1st XV. He missed almost six months of his first season through injury but returned to help Jersey to National Two play-off success, scoring two tries in the 30-5 victory over Loughborough Students.
Nathan played 26 games in 2011/12 as Jersey claimed the National One title, and also won three Siam Cup caps. He captained the team during the first half of the current season, and was also selected for the representative RFU Championship XV who faced the Maori All Blacks last November.
Jersey supporters were saddened by the departure of the large hairy beast this summer... and there was also some disappointment when Nathan left. [Ay-thang-kyow!]
What's up, Doc? Jersey will also face former winger David Doherty. The Yorkshireman began his career with Leeds in 2004 before moving on to Sale and Wasps. He spent seven months on the Island in 2010/11, making 19 appearances and scoring 19 tries. His last touch of the ball in a red shirt was the final try against Loughborough in the National Two play-off, before he moved to Cornish Pirates in summer 2011.
'Doc' then moved to Leeds in summer 2012 and last season he played 21 Championship games, scoring 13 tries, and so far in 2013/14 he has played six times in the league and notched three tries.
News from the Jersey camp
Director of Rugby Ben Harvey has unannounced a largely unchanged squad for Sunday's game at Headingley. Jersey's starting pack will be the same unit as lined up at kick-off against Pirates, while the backs will be the seven who finished last weekend's game. This means Jimmy Williams wears the number 9 shirt, while Mark Foster plays at wing, with Grant Pointer and Nicky Griffiths missing out.
Jersey's bench includes returns to the squad for Dave Markham,
Joel Dudley and Elvis Taione. Taione played 63 minutes for Tonga
against Wales tonight on Friday (the Pacific Islanders lost 17-7)
but Harvey expects him to be available if required from the bench
Jersey squad v Leeds (A) - November 24th 2013, k-o 3pm
Alex Rae (capt)
Elvis Taione, Nick Selway, Tom Fidler, Dave Markham, James Voss, Joel Dudley, Aaron Penberthy.
Head-to-head in 2012/13
Leeds were doubly blessed last season, drawing Jersey in the B&I Cup on top of the clubs' home-and-away league encounters.
September 2012 (league): Leeds 32 Jersey 19. Michael Le Bourgeois claimed Jersey's first Championship try at Headingley, but this was cancelled out by Josh Griffin, Jacob Rowan and Jamel Chisholm. Full report HERE
October 2012 (B&I): Leeds 27 Jersey 33. The first win of the
season for the Islanders in a cup match played at York RUFC
(above). Guy Thompson and Donovan Sanders got the tries, 'Booj'
landed eight kicks at goal. The report's HERE
December 2012 (league): Jersey 20 Leeds 17. A familiar scoreline given all the 2003 World Cup nostalgia doing the rounds this week (extended highlights on ITV? Don't mind if I do). A muddy old day in which Doc somehow managed to score two excellent running tries but was outdone by the hosts, who scored through a penalty try and another by Max Stelling. See MATCH REPORT
January 2013 (B&I): Jersey 12 Leeds 27. The home side were
never at the races in this dead cup rubber (pictured above),
trailing 0-22 at the break but at least fighting back to achieve
some respectability. Full report HERE
Leeds in 2013/14
Having ended last season with play-off defeat by eventual
champions Newcastle, Carnegie faced another top-four side,
Nottingham, on the opening (double-header) day of the season, and
were disappointed to go down 24-16 at Castle Park, Doncaster.
The team had a new Head Coach in James Lowes, a former rugby league player with Hunslet, Leeds and Bradford who was promoted from an assistant role when former HC Diccon Edwards resigned in June.
Nathan Hannay was among a clutch of signings that also included fly-half Glynn Hughes from Moseley and the permanent capture of prop James Currie, who joined on loan from Worcester last season. Leeds are led by Jacob Rowan for the second season - the 23-year-old is still one of the division's youngest skippers.
The team found their form on the road with consecutive wins on the road against the Pirates (20-27) and Bedford (28-29). The match against Ealing at Headingley on October 4th was the latest home start to a league season in Leeds' history, and they marked the occasion with nine tries in a 64-3 thumping of the newly-promoted side.
The B&I brought mixed fortunes, with defeat at Bristol and a home walloping of Gala (Ealing, and then some) before another away win in the league at Moseley (18-27) and then a chance to test themselves against the unbeaten league leaders. Carnegie performed creditably against London Welsh but eventually went down 24-31. This was followed by a hard-fought home win over Rotherham (19-10) prior to last weekend's defeat at London Scottish.
Top try-scorer for Leeds with four so far this season is full-back Stevie McColl, who joined Jersey's Guy Thompson and eventual winner Tim Streather of Nottingham on the short-list for the Championship Player of the Year award last season. Fly-half Alex Lozowski, whose father Rob won a lone cap for England in 1984 while a player with Wasps, has kicked 68 points with a success rate of 86%.
Leeds W5 L3 record places them fourth in the table at the time of writing. The Yorkshire side have scored 26 league tries thus far, one noticeable stat being the high proportion scored by the backs, with the starting forwards registering just five so far, including a penalty try.
Leeds' average attendance so far this season is 2,328, sneaking ahead of Jersey (2,314) but behind Bedford (2,407) and of course Bristol (32 men and a couple of dogs shy of 5,000).
Lowes has made six changes to his side for this weekend's game, including giving Hannay his first start since the opening match against Nottingham. The full details of the Leeds line-up can be seen HERE.
History of Leeds Rugby Union
The history of Leeds Carnegie is a cocktail of different aged components, matured separately before being combined during more recent times and blended into a series of modern interpretations.
Headingley Football Club were founded in 1878 and played games on Cardigan Fields, site of the current ground. The club withstood a lean spell for rugby in Yorkshire during the early part of the 20th Century, and after the Great War, but in the 1930s was prospering with excellent facilities, impressive results and representative honours.
Two notable names from the 1960s were Ian McGeechan and John Spencer, who won 32 and eight caps respectively for Scotland and England and have each gone on to great deeds off the field. Spencer (pictured below) was encountered by Jersey when they played the Wharfedale club of which he is now President in January 2012, while McGeechan's career has gone full circle and he is now back at Leeds as Executive Chairman.
In the 1980s Peter Winterbottom was the most notable Headingley player of his era, winning 58 caps for England and seven for the Lions. His father John, a member since 1950, also played a key role in the history of Leeds, brokering the merger with Roundhay that led to the formation of Leeds RUFC in 1992.
Roundhay were formed in 1924 and had a golden era in the 1950s which included a first-ever appearance in the Yorkshire Cup Final. The loss to the Royal Signals was finally avenged in 1975 when England internationals Richard Cardus and Keith Smith helped Roundhay defeat Headingley 20-16 in a replay which followed a 13-all draw.
Merger discussions were initiated by John Winterbottom with a view to forming a single, much larger club from Headingley, Roundhay and Morley. Morley subsequently withdrew, but the merger was finalised in July 1992 with the first game played two months later.
The new club climbed the leagues and appointed professionals Colin Stephens (Youth Development Officer) and Phil Davies (Director of Rugby) in 1995 and 1996, as well as moving to Headingley Stadium. In 1998 the modern era truly arrived when rugby union in Leeds became a brand, namely Leeds Tykes, in partnership with the city's league brethren the Rhinos under the ownership of Leeds Rugby Limited, and by September 2001 the Tykes had reached the Premiership, then sponsored by Zurich.
The highlights of a five-season stint in the top flight were finishing fifth in 2002/03, earning qualification for the Heineken Cup, and lifting the Powergen Cup in 2005. But the cup success was followed by relegation 12 months later, inspite of the presence of star names like Justin Marshall and Gordon Bulloch in the squad.
The most recent incarnation of the club saw Leeds Carnegie formed in 2007 after the club returned to the Premiership and formed a partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University, who acquired a 51% share in the club. The Carnegie names came from the Scottish entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie whose Carnegie Trust funded the establishment of a PE teaching training college in 1933. Carnegie College is now the Carnegie Faculty of Sport and Education within Leeds Metropolitan University.
Current England Coach Stuart Lancaster was involved with the club for 16 years, serving as Director of Rugby before leaving in 2008 to join the England set-up. He was replaced by Andy Key, while England flanker Neil Back became Head Coach. The yo-yo existence continued with two seasons at the top level, attracting home crowds of between 4,000 and 10,000, followed by relegation in 2011 and a mid-table performance in 2011/12 (6th in the league, 3rd in promotion pool B).
In May 2009 it was announced that the club was re-structuring with former Wales and British Lion international Gareth Davies joining a new board of Directors, and Leeds Rugby taking control of the club once again.
In order to attract further financial support for the club,
Leeds Met has returned its 51% stake in the club to Leeds Rugby and
agreed a revised strategic partnership arrangement, which includes
sponsorship. The name of the club remained as Leeds Carnegie
Davies, who is a former Chief Executive of Cardiff RFC and BBC Wales Head of Sport, is the new Dean of the Carnegie Faculty of Sport & Education at Leeds Met and he will represent the university on a new board, which is headed up by Paul Caddick, the property and construction entrepreneur and former Headingley lock, as Chairman.
Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Leeds v Jersey v through the following channels:
• Live BBC Radio Jersey commentary on Sunday afternoon (available online and on your transistor-wireless device).
• Preview in Friday's JEP, and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum
• 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
Round Nine got underway with a remarkable comeback by Bedford Blues who fought back from a 3-13 deficit at Brickfields to beat Plymouth Albion 16-27 and register just their second league win of the season, moving up to ninth in the table as a result.
Saturday's games see Rotherham host Nottingham while Moseley take on London Welsh at Billesley Common.
On Sunday Ealing will hope the passion of a local derby against London Scottish will inspire their players to translate improved recent form into results, while Cornish Pirates host Bristol and will hope to upset Andy Robinson's men for the second time this season after their narrow opening day success, as well as to recover from their defeat in Jersey.
Movember is almost compulsory for rugby players, and Leeds will be celebrating the annual tache-fest at Sunday's game - details HERE.
Many Jersey players are also taking part, with Dave Markham (above) arguably the leading exponent, taking Movember so seriously that he had a practice run at the start of the season before being allegedly instructed by management to 'de-slug.'
Having featured Nathan Hannay's hound earlier, let's hope
there's no canine involvement on the pitch this weekend. A couple
of weeks back the National Two North game between Caldy and
Harrogate featured a pitch invasion. The intruder couldn't stop
Caldy's Gavin Roberts from scoring a try (as shown above), but did
deter him from getting near the posts, leading to a missed
conversion and a bonus point in defeat (24-17) for Harrogate that
they may otherwise have missed out on. Could make for some
interesting discussions at the end of the season if the point is
crucial, as well as to some timely reminders that this isn't really
a laughing matter and that dogs can deliver nasty infections if
they are allowed to roam on sports pitches.
Other rugby action involving Jersey sides includes Saturday's home game for Jersey Athletic against Cinderford (ko 2pm), while on Sunday Banks Ladies host Lewes at Grainville at 1.30pm and Jersey Colts are away at Trojans.
Enjoy your weekend's rugby!