Preview to London Scottish (A) 10.11.13


Oh, oobee doo
I wanna be like you
I wanna walk like you
Talk like you, too

It's the sincerest form of flattery, after all, so hopefully London Scottish are suitably taken by Jersey's campaign of imitation.


It started in Victorian times - the Exiles were formed in 1878 and the first record of rugby in Jersey was just a year later, but it's more recently that the parallels between the two sides have become more pronounced, with Jersey following a year behind.

In 2010/11, Scottish won the National One title and were promoted to the Championship. Their first season was a tough one, culminating in survival on the final day, and in the wake of this the club took the decision to move to a fully professional squad.

A year later and Jersey trod a very similar path. National One? Check. Last-ditch survival? Just about (it was the Wednesday before the final Saturday). Move to full-time? Check.

Things started to get ridiculous four weeks ago when Jersey hosted Ayr in the British & Irish Cup and provided pipers to enhance the match-day experience. "They'll think it's a bloody home game," muttered one member of the Jersey coaching team.

This weekend the two sides will lock horns at the Athletic Ground in Richmond, where Jersey scored five tries last March but still ended up on the losing side. The Channel Islanders will hope to continue their emulation of the Exiles' previous season by moving up to mid-table respectability after a patchy start to their second season - victory in SW London would be a decent start.

The fixture, dubbed 'Sunday Crunch-Time' by the host club, kicks off at 2pm on, er, Sunday.

News from the Jersey Camp

The Islanders felt a bit aggrieved that a solid afternoon's work against one of the division's form sides failed to yield any points. Six points down as the match at Rotherham entered added time, the visitors had a useful bonus point and could even have pilfered a cheeky win.

But Juan Pablo Socino's late penalty took his team out of range, and Jersey had to be contented with reducing a 23-point margin of defeat at Clifton Lane 12 months before to single figures.

Travelling reserve Mark Foster found himself promoted to the squad on Saturday morning when Dai Bishop was injured, and Foster was called on within 10 minutes after Drew Locke was forced off. It remains to be seen whether Locke is fit to return to action, and whether the experiment of playing Aaron Penberthy at full-back and Grant Pointer in the centre is persisted with. Mark McCrea impressed after moving to centre, but there will probably be fewer changes in the pack.

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

Any previous?

Jersey hosted the Exiles on the final weekend of October, and built up a 13-3 lead at half-time thanks to a Guy Thompson try (captured below by Sue Trower) and eight points from the boot of Booj. Things got even better for the home side when James Copsey scored one of the best tries of the season, his finishing skill matching fine approach play from team-mates.

G UY A 17-point margin was surely too much for the visitors? Well, in the end it was, but not before Scottish had stormed back with tries in the 52nd (a PT) and 75th minute. The second score, by Jim Thompson, gave just enough time for a winning, or tying score, but Jersey held on. More details about the game are available HERE.

In early March on a sunny afternoon at the RAG, Jersey trailed 14-12 at the break after tries by Ed Dawson and Max Stelling answered one by Adam Kwasnicki, plus three James Love penalties.

Tries by Charlie Clare and Guy Thompson in the third quarter helped reduce the arrears to 27-26, but Miles Mantella supplemented his earlier try with a second, and Mark Bright took the hosts out of sight, helped by eight successful kicks by Love. Jersey did win the try count 4-5 after a late Richard Barrington try, but it finished 41-33. Full report HERE

London Scottish in 2013/14

The Exiles suffered a blow in the days leading up to their opening league match when Director of Rugby Simon Amor was snapped up as the new England Sevens supremo.

The new man in charge was ex-Forwards Coach James Buckland (below), the 32-year-old former England U21 and Leicester hooker who played in the 2007 Heineken Cup final and subsequently for Wasps, London Irish and England Saxons before retiring through injury.

James Buckland

Before he left, Amor oversaw a summer of transfer activity. His signings included second row David Lyons from Cornish Pirates, fly-half Lee Millar from Gala and no fewer than four Rotherham Titans: prop Jamie Kilbane, hooker Ted Stagg and wingers Peter Homan and Mike Doneghan.

The new faces joined some experienced campaigners: five members of the Exiles' squad have played more than 40 games: hooker Adam Kwasnicki, lock Alex Karonias, ultility back Ollie Grove and back row men Mark Bright - the club captain - and Lewis Calder (below) - son of Jim and nephew of Finlay.

Calder _250.ashx

The season opened with a 13-44 win against Ealing in the London double-header, and the Exiles gave Bristol a fright at the Mem before losing 31-18.

Four consecutive wins then ensued - a brace of league victories over Nottingham and Plymouth, and cup success over London Welsh and Edinburgh Accies.

Since then fortunes have dipped, with Rotherham edging a tight affair at the RAG (23-24) and then Cornish Pirates claiming a Friday night home win by 16-8 - Mantella, who faced Jersey twice in 2011/12 while with Rosslyn Park, claimed the only try, his sixth of the season in the league (plus two in the Cup), and Millar added a penalty to take his season's Championship tally with the boot to 35.

History of London Scottish FC

Like many fine institutions, London Scottish FC was formed in a pub, namely Mackay's Tavern in the City of London on April 10th 1878. The club adopted the colours they still wear to this day, albeit with fewer sponsors' logos, and in the first season were captained by their Chairman, Begbie Gibson.

The first season featured 15 matches, and three of the opposing clubs are still in existence - Wasps, Twickenham and Guy's Hospital. Bill MacLagan captained the club in the 1880s for five seasons and was the first player to win a cap for Scotland.

The club continued to thrive adding respected opponents like Oxford and Cambridge Universities and Harlequins to the fixture list and after a short period at Lee and then Brondesbury, moved to Old Deer Park in Richmond as tenants of Richmond Cricket Club and then in 1894 to their present ground the Richmond Athletic Ground, which they share with Richmond Football Club.

The club prospered, establishing an excellent playing reputation and attracting many fine players who represented their country, some of whom went onto play for the British Lions. In fact since the club was formed, this heritage has produced in the region of 220 Scottish Internationals and the same number of Lions captains as Leicester Tigers with four (MacLagan, David Bedell-Sivright in 1903/4, Mike Campbell-Lamerton in 1966 and Gavin Hastings - pictured below - in 1993).


Other Scottish internationals worthy of mention include a proliferation of back-row men - Mike Biggar, Rob Wainwright, Derek White and Ian Smith - as well as Paul Burnell, Alastair McHarg, Allan Lawson and Kenny Logan. Logan scored the last try of his competitive career for Scottish in December 2005 in a fiery encounter against Richmond, won 27-25 by the landlords.

The club began the league era in 1987 at level two, and by 1998 were a fully-professional unit playing in the Premiership. However this was also the season that the professional club went into administration, necessitating a year out while the original club was reformed and placed into Herts/ Middlesex Division One (level nine) in 2000.

Four successive promotions kick-started the revival, and in the past six seasons Scottish have been promoted on three further occasions to return to their original status when the leagues began 25 years previously. An eventful journey, with the most extraordinary episode being the last-minute interception try that secured promotion from National One at Barking's expense. Two and a half years later the incident is still on Youtube, if you missed it, and Barking are still in the national leagues, but only just.

Following the Game

Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from London Scottish v Jersey through the following channels:
• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey on Friday from 5.30pm, and live 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
• 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

Partly due to the November internationals, and partly just the way the fixture cookie has crumbled, there is just one Saturday afternoon game, the (quite far apart) Midlands Derby between Moseley and Nottingham at Billesley Common. Both sides will be looking to follow up important wins last weekend. The previous night Ealing host their second successive home game, looking to go one better than the 6-15 reverse against Moseley. It is Trailfinders' seventh game of the season, the same mark as had been reached in 2012/13 when Jersey won their first game - against London Scottish.

The above sees four fixtures left for Sunday afternoon. Aside from the Exiles against Jersey, the others include two top-four clashes: London Welsh host Bristol at the Kassam, while Rotherham travel up the M1 for a Yorkshire Derby against Leeds at Headingley. The final game is Bedford's trip to the Mennaye to take on the Pirates

And Finally

Local rugby action is headlined by Jersey Athletic's Zoo Sports Shield encounter with Esher Cardinals, one of just two side above the Island side in the table. The game at St Peter is at 12noon, and will be followed by lunch in the clubhouse accompanied by England v Argentina (k-o 2.30pm) on the big screens. Those with stamina will also have earmarked Wales v South Africa at 5.30pm.

Other scheduled matches this weekend include two on Saturday: Jersey 2nds v LQ Lydian Lions at Les Quennevais on Sunday at 12noon (24 hours later than the original time) and Beeches making their Guernsey tour for two JRA league games - Saturday against Guernsey 2nds and the following day against St Jacques.

I close by swapping rugby for dancing. This was the route trodden by ex-England wing Ben Cohen, who missed the 2003 World Cup reunion on Saturday because of his Strictly Come Dancing commitments.


As Johnno, Johnny and Sir Clive paraded around Twickers, Cohen was strutting his stuff, topless, in a sizzling Paso Doble routine (shown above) in front of millions of TV viewers. He was praised by Times sports columnist Giles Smith praised Cohen's "continued resistance to the waxing that is endemic to this sport. True, this means his chest hair has to be plastered down with a claggy mixture of make-up and baby oil, giving large swathes of the surface the appearance of the banks of the Thames at low tide. However, that's not the point. The point is that Cohen is single-handedly standing up for hairiness in an increasingly shaven world."

The rugby to dancing path is being trodden next week by yours truly in the Strictly Jersey contest in aid of Children in Need. The line-up includes seven other amateur dancers, including BBC Jersey's Sports Correspondent Tim Pryor, who will take to the floor barely 24 hours after finishing his broadcasting duties in Richmond. Wish us luck, and hold the baby oil...

Enjoy your weekend's rugby!
Tom Innes

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