Preview to Nottingham (A) 06.10.13


Campo, deep snow and Neilus Keogh

Jersey fly north this weekend anticipating that 18 stones of prime Fijian beef will be on the menu. The Island side take on Nottingham at Meadow Lane at 3pm on Sunday.

Nottingham's front row will feature the splendidly-named (George David) Campese Ma'afu, who has played 19 times for his country and joined the Green-and-Whites from Cardiff Blues this summer.

MAAAFFUUUUUUU_rdax _530x 331

The 28-year-old's last international was the Pacific Nations Cup win over Tonga in Tokyo in June, when he packed down against Jersey's Elvis Taione, who for once had to accept second-best in the striking name stakes.

Campese (pictured above) was born in 1984, and christened after Aussie winger 'Campo', who was tearing it up that year on the Wallabies' all-conquering tour. It's just as well this craze wasn't popular among English rugby supporters of the era, or we'd have a number of players in their late 20s named Underwood, Chilcott and Winterbottom

Unusual names aside, this is an important game for both sides, who each have one win from three games. The winner can head up towards mid-table ahead of the two-week British & Irish Cup break, while the loser will be a bit close to the bottom of the table for comfort.

News from the Jersey camp

Jersey received news this week that the club had been charged [quoting the official RFU release] "with a breach of RFU Regulation 2.4 (failure to act towards the RFU with utmost good faith) and/or conduct prejudicial to the interests of the Union and/or the Game contrary to RFU Rule 5.12.

The charge relates to a one-week suspension of Ben Maidment on September 3, for a strike during the pre-season fixture against Coventry on August 31. After being provided with information by the Club, the RFU Disciplinary panel deemed a planned pre-season fixture against SC Le Rheu (near Rennes, France) to be meaningful for the purposes of satisfying the one-week suspension.

The fixture against SC Le Rheu did not take place and the Club failed to notify the RFU of this fact. The Club subsequently selected Ben Maidment to play in the first Greene King IPA Championship match of the season against Plymouth Albion RFC on Sunday September 15." [Unquote]

JRFC are preparing the club's version of events for a hearing, the date of which had not been announced at the time of writing, and made no immediate comment on the issue.

On the pitch, Harvey must consider what changes in personnel could be made after the defeat against Bristol. Scrum-half Nicky Griffiths is a likely returnee, alongside impact sub Drew Locke, while young forward James Voss is available for selection in spite of a heavy knock. Flanker Fred Silcock will serve the second game of a two-match ban.

The Jersey squad will be announced on Friday morning.

Nottingham in 2013/14

Nottingham -Rugby -Logo

It's been a tricky summer at Meadow Lane. It was announced towards the end of last season that Nottingham were seeking new financial backing, and although the club finished the season by claiming a play-off spot, subsequently losing to Bedford at the semi-final stage, change was just around the corner.

A number of high profile players left, including James Arlidge, Matt Parr, Nic Rouse, Alex Lewington, Joe Duffy and Championship Player of the Year Tim Streather.

There were recruits as well, although the squad was reduced to an official size, according to the Green-and-Whites' website, of just two dozen.

The new faces were the aforementioned Mr Ma'afu, hooker Jon Vickers from Plymouth, Irish lock Neilus Keogh (he was signed from Lazio in Italy, where he played alongside Jersey's David Young) and 6ft 4in Welsh fly-half Matt Jarvis (he came from Connacht in Ireland, where he played alongside Jersey's Mark McCrea).

Two pre-season friendlies saw a 10-44 London Irish win at Meadow Lane, after which Loughborough were seen off by Notts to the tune of 18-33.

The season started with an excellent 24-16 win over Leeds in the double-header at Doncaster, with tries from Montagu and Hough, followed by disappointment at Meadow Lane. Not only did the home team slip out of contention against London Welsh, losing 19-46, but only 1,164 supporters turned up. Styles and Lee-Everton were the Green-and-White try-scorers.

Last weekend Notts were level (3-3) with London Scottish at half-time at the RAG, and edged ahead early in the second period, but then faded once again to finish 27-6 adrift.

Former Bath lock Martin Haag took charge at Meadow Lane in summer 2012 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.

Martin +Haag

Haag (above, one of the division's smartest DoRs) 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 (he moved there with his family from Essex at the age of four): 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.

Head-to-head in 2012/13

In the October clash at Meadow Lane, Jersey were hit hard with 17 points conceded in the first five minutes. Savage and Shaw claimed tries and James Arlidge added a penalty and both conversions.

The visitors recovered slightly to the extent that they were just 23-13 down at the break, Michael Le Bourgeois claiming all his side's points with a try, conversion and two penalties.

Jersey needed to score first after the break but instead it was a Green-and-White procession, with a Duffey try and two more Arlidge penalties. Ben Evans, in what was to be his last appearance as a Jersey player, was yellow-carded for repeated infringement and when replacement James Gethings had no better fortunes, a penalty try was given, before Rhys Crane rounded off the afternoon with his side's fifth try. The report is HERE

Nottingham's first visit to Jersey in February did not feature any rugby: after weeks of torrential rain, the match was called off at short notice due to a pitch ruled unfit by the referee. Enough was said and written at the time about what went on that day.

Four weeks later, snow was the challenge, and the picture at the start of the week at the Jersey Bowl end wasn't promising (see below).

Snow Pitch

But the pitch was cleared, the show did go on, and Jersey could well have won it had they cashed in during a dominant first half to the tune of more than seven points. After one penalty try was registered, the home team decided against pressing for another even with two Notts' players in the bin.

The visitors rallied in the second half and two Brent Wilson tries helped then achieve a 13-20 win and restrict Jersey to a bonus point. The report's HERE

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 26 seasons of the league era at level two, now the RFU 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 their return, the club finished third in 2007/08, but they failed to make an impact in the promotion play-offs in the next three seasons, with a trio of identical finishes - fifth in the regular season, third in their promotion pool. Last season, with the play-off stakes halved to a field of four, Notts pipped Bedford to second place but were then defeated over two legs by the Blues in the play-offs. Bedford won the first leg 26-17 at home and a dominant first half in the return at Meadow Lane ended the contest, albeit that Notts fought back to 21-23 on the night and an 11-point aggregate margin.

The club is owned by Meadow Lane plc, which also owns Notts County FC, and have played at Meadow Lane since 2006.

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 New Zealand fly-half who represented Japan 32 times, the US full-back Chris Wyles 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 Jersey v Plymouth 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

After six games on Saturday last weekend, normal service is resumed. Both Cornish Pirates and Plymouth Albion host Friday night fixtures again, with Moseley and London Scottish the visitors, and the home clubs hoping for a few more spectators than turned out for the two host clubs a fortnight ago (1,800 and 1,700 respectively). On the same evening Leeds host Ealing - this is Carnegie's first home match of the season, the first time the club haven't played a home league match before the end of September since being formed in the early 1990s.

On Saturday there's a top-of-the-table challenge between Rotherham and London Welsh at Clifton Lane, which will be an interesting test of both sides' early-season credentials, while on Sunday at the Memorial Ground Andy Robinson and Mike Rayer will exchange grumpy looks from 20 paces as Bristol take on Bedford.

And finally

As the professional arm of Jersey RFC heads to the North Midlands, the club's home ground will see the pause button pressed on the modern game, and a selection of vintage players who should know better will take part in the annual Vets' tournament. 12 sides are taking part, the weather forecast looks promising and a good time should be had by all in the two-day jamboree.

Jersey Athletic have a free weekend after an excellent maiden win in The Shield last Saturday at Blackheath. Other games to note on Jersey soil are Les Quennevais against St Jacques from Guernsey on Saturday at 11am at LQ, while on Sunday Banks Ladies host Ashford at Grainville at 1.30pm.

Enjoy your weekend's rugby!

Tom Innes

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