Preview to Ulster Ravens (A) 18.10.13


Jersey plan to stand up to the Ulstermen in Ravenhill showdown

Ulster Logo

For the second season running, Jersey's British & Irish Cup travels sees the Islanders cross the Irish Sea, this time at a more northerly latitude to end up in Belfast.

The opposition is Ulster's 'A' team, the Ravens, who will be playing at their team's home ground of Ravenhill (below), which opened in 1923 and is currently undergoing a major refurbishment.


Eventually Ulster's home ground will hold 18,000, but it was noisy enough when 14,000 crammed in last weekend to cheer their team to victory against Leicester, who were pretty much deafened by the throaty roars of Stand Up for the Ulster Men (SUFTUM for short).

The men from 'Norn Iron', as the province is pronounced by locals, have some ground to make up after an opening weekend defeat to Cornish Pirates, who grabbed a late try bonus point in defeating their Irish visitors 34-17.

Jersey emulated the Pirates by eventually overcoming Ayr 28-16, with a flurry of five cards for the visitors and a late BP for the winners.

The chances are there'll be at least 13,000 fewer spectators at Ravenhill this Friday as there were seven days before, but it should make a good warm-up before the senior team's away match in Montpellier on Saturday afternoon, and both sides will be striving for the win - Jersey to spark ambitions of making progress in this year's B&I, Ulster to avoid falling behind the Pool 6 pace-setters.

News from the Jersey camp

There was no sentimentality from Director of Rugby Ben Harvey when selecting the squad last weekend, with former Ayr man Nick Campbell denied a run-out against his old team. Although he did get a spot at the pre-match lunch, and joined a rousing bagpipe-led chorus of Happy Birthday for his visiting Ma.

This season two former Ulster players, Niall O'Connor and Mark McCrea, will be hoping they can earn the nod for a crack at their former team-mates. O'Connor came to Jersey direct from Ulster this summer, while McCrea had two seasons in Connacht before his February transfer.

Harvey may ease some of his front-line players back into action ahead of the vital league clash against Plymouth next weekend, but there'll also be the chance for some fringe members of the squad to impress - these could include scrum-half Joel Dudley, hooker Luke Stratford and full-back Jack Burroughs (below).

Jack B

The Jersey side will be announced on Thursday at around 12noon.

Ulster Ravens 2013/14

At the time of writing it was reported that Ulster's senior side had no injury worries ahead of the trip to play Montpellier in the Heineken Cup. If true, this would mean minimal disruption to the Ravens squad from the 22 who lined up in Cornwall.

The squad is made up of surplus members of the senior squad, players from the Ulster Academy - young stars considered to have the potential to earn international recognition later in their careers - and some of the top local players in the all-Irish AIB League.

Last weekend's Ravens XXII included David McIlwaine, who returned to Ulster this season after a spell at Bristol, former Rotherham fly-half James McKinney, who faced Jersey at St Peter in January and has picked up three caps for the Ulster senior team this season, and another man with 1st XV miles on the clock this season - scrum-half Michael Heaney.

Connor -joyce

The forwards on display at the Mennaye included prop Paddy McAllister, back in action after a season out recovering from a knee injury, captain Lewis Stevenson in the second row, and some real talent in the back row - Conor Joyce (above) played in the Under 20 World Cup for Ireland this summer, and Frankie Taggart, a product of Whitgift School in South London who played for Harlequins before moving to the country who he qualifies for on ancestral links

Ulster Ravens in B&I History

The Ravens have reached the KO stages twice in the four-year history of the B&I. In 2009/10 the Ulster side won four out of five group games, but then lost 27-3 away at Munster in the QF.

2010/11 was a season to forget for the Ulstermen, losing four out of five group games, but the following year they won all four group games. This led to another meeting with old foes Munster - this time the game was at home, but the result was the same, the southerners winning 9-20.

In 2012/13, Pool 1 of the B&I hinged on the two matches between Bristol and the Ravens. Bristol won 34-28 at the Memorial Stadium, and completed the double with an 8-12 away triumph that clinched top spot and a QF place.

History of Ulster Rugby

The home team have a suitably comprehensive history on their well-appointed website - check it out by clicking HERE

Following the game

Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Ulster v Ravens through the following channels:

• Live commentary on Friday evening (available online and on your transistor-wireless device) from 7pm with a new work experience boy joining Tim Pryor
• Preview in Friday's JEP, match report in Saturday's paper (on sale from 7am) and further reaction on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby forum
• Match report on Channel 103 on Saturday afternoon
• Reports on Channel TV online and on Monday evening at 6.15pm; and on BBC Channel Islands on Monday evening at 6.30pm

The B&I this weekend


The weekend's games feature two pretty historic Anglo-Welsh match-ups - Aberavon first played Bristol in 1896, and the following year Bedford played Llanelli for the first time.

Ealing will look to get their season started with a home win over Cross Keys after being defeated by Leinster 'A' last weekend. The holders' next challenge is an away game against Moseley, while in Jersey's Pool, Cornish Pirates make the long trip to Ayr looking to keep up the good work after victory over Ulster.

Friday October 18
Nottingham Rugby v Munster 'A' (KO 20:00)

Saturday October 19
Aberavon v Bristol (KO 14:30)
Ayr v Cornish Pirates (KO 15:00)
Bedford v Llanelli (KO 15:00)
Connacht Eagles v Rotherham (KO14:30)
Ealing v Cross Keys (15:00)
London Scottish v Edinburgh Academicals (KO 15:00)
Moseley v Leinster 'A', (KO 15:00)
Pontypridd v London Welsh (KO 14:30)
Stirling v Plymouth Albion (KO 15:00)

Sunday October 20
Leeds v Gala (KO 14:30)

And Finally

Jersey's amateur team, Jersey Athletic, have a home game at St Peter, contesting the Wilkes Cup against the Royal Artillery at 3pm. Admission is free and the team would help to match the estimated 400 crowd from their opening home fixture last month, especially with the Artillery Ladies XV also on show in the curtain-raiser at 1.30, taking on Jersey United Banks Ladies. The other local game sees Jersey 2nds take on HMP Panthers at 1pm at Les Quennevais.

He may not be the greatest player in Ulster's rugby history, but Willie Anderson has a good claim to be the most notorious. The 27-times capped lock was captaining his country when he led an unprecedented advance on the New Zealand Haka before an international match in Dublin - the incident is captured on Youtube and still causes humourless Kiwis to splutter into their Steinlagers.

Anderson _haka

Not content with his Haka heroics, Anderson also hit the headlines when he tried to smuggle an Argentine flag out of a government building in Buenos Aires during a trip with the Penguins touring side in 1978. The authorities weren't impressed and he spent three months in jail before being released. Anderson was also the cause of another potential diplomatic incident when he faced French lock Jean Condom in 1985 at Lansdowne Road, and one spectator unfurled a banner of 'Our Willie's bigger than your Condom.' The word legendary is over-used, but Anderson qualifies with room to spare.

Enjoy your weekend's rugby!

Tom Innes

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