Preview to Moseley (A) 06.09.1403/09/2014
Shadow-boxing, early season Blues and the dehydrated
The new season - the season proper - starts this weekend with a mixture of excitement and relief pulsing through the veins.
Excitement for Jersey fans stems from a successful season that's seen Head Coach Harvey Biljon develop an exciting new-look squad which has impressed during pre-season outings against Ayr, Blackheath and Bath. Now for the real thing. That's the relief - it's finally arrived! Enough of the shadow-boxing/ build-up/ conjecture...
Moseley are also in good heart. The place may be a bit quieter since Ben Evans set sail for Australia soon after the end of 2013/14, but Mose were cheered by a strong finish to claim the 'best of the rest' slot in the league table - seventh place (the club's best finish during their current eight-year stint at level two), with nine wins from 23 outings.
And the side from the 'Second City' - who may or may not add the word 'Birmingham' to their title at some stage in the future - also have the prospect of a splendid new stand which is currently under construction and should be completed before Christmas.
Jersey have yet to beat Moseley in four Championship games, the most disappointing of which by far from an Island perspective was the 8-39 mauling at St Peter last March, with the visitors running in 29 unanswered points in the second half.
The desire to put right the wrong of the last encounter, and make a positive start to 2014/15, will be a powerful motivation for the visitors, who will take the field in their alternate blue kit for the only time this season. The game kicks off at 3pm, and the waiting is almost over.
News from the Jersey camp
Selection will be tricky for Head Coach Harvey this week. Most of his squad are fit, and with some strong showings by less established players in pre-season, several players will miss out on spots in the travelling XXIII (which includes one reserve).
The Jersey Evening Post verdict at the start of the week was that only two players had nailed down a starting XV berth beyond reasonable doubt - flanker Ryan Hodson and full-back Tommy Bell.
The Jersey squad will be announced on Friday morning - see it HERE. Five players who've represented Moseley are in contention to turn out against their former club: centre David Bishop, winger Mark Foster, back row men Ben Maidment and two ex-Northampton men (pictured below) who played for Mose as DR players last season - scrum-half Ryan Glynn and prop Danny Herriot.
Moseley going into 2014/15
As well as Mr Evans, Mose bade farewell to some talented - and marginally younger - players this summer, with the likes of winger Matt Williams and back row men Ollie Robinson and Buster Lawrence leaving. New signings have come in, including winger Drew Cheshire, signed from Gloucester having spent most of last season playing for Luctonians in National Two North, hooker Scott Tolmie from London Irish Wild Geese and Ed Siggery, a flanker who Jersey have faced over the past two seasons while playing for Pontypridd and Ealing. One new signing may be missing this week - ex-Swansea prop Simon Gardiner picked up a red card in last Saturday's 'friendly' against Ealing and may face disciplinary action.
Prior to the 20-15 win over the Trailfinders, for whom James Copsey scored a late try, the Mose pre-season saw Kevin Maggs' men win narrowly at Ebbw Vale by 18-21 and then lose 42-24 to Northampton Saints at Franklin's Gardens.
Any previous? (click for match report)
September 2012: Jersey 12 Moseley 31 (A Jersey try by Donovan Sanders is pictured below)
Formed: as Havelock FC in 1873/74
Back in the day: Moseley Wanderers represented Great Britain in rugby in the 1900 Olympic Games in Paris, losing to gold medallists France in their only game.
Famous sons: 1970s England internationals Sam Doble, Jan Webster, Martin Cooper, Barrie Corless, Nigel Horton and Keith Fielding. In the 80s, Nick Jeavons and Mark Linnett.
Jersey connection: Ex-DoR Ben Harvey played for Mose in 2001
Silverware: Mose shared the John Player Cup after a 12-12 draw with Gloucester in 1982 in the final at 'HQ'
League era: four seasons in the top flight; since relegation in 1991 Mose have been in the second tier except for three seasons at level three in the mid-noughties.
Early season blues - a weekend to avoid
The first weekend of September hasn't gone that well for Jersey in recent seasons. Going back five years, the Islanders went down 24-19 at Bracknell in what was to be their only league defeat in National Three South-East, and 12 months later they only just scraped past Shelford in National Two South, 18-19 winners at the Davey Field.
September 2011 started with a convincing home win over Birmingham & Solihull, but the following season, in Jersey's first ever Championship game, the Pirates won 6-20 at St Peter. This 'nil points' return was a better outcome than the corresponding weekend last year - with league action yet to start, Jersey were set to play a pre-season match in France, but the cancellation of this fixture meant a suspension for Ben Maidment wasn't properly served and a two-point deduction ensued.
The Greene King IPA Championship this weekend
Bedford and Nottingham get things underway on Friday - two play-off contenders from 2012/13 who slid down the table last season. On Saturday Doncaster, back at level two, host Plymouth Albion while two clubs who'll have their sights on the top four - London Scottish and Rotherham - lock horns.
On Sunday the Pirates host Leeds, sorry Yorkshire, Carnegie and the two favourites for the title, Bristol and Worcester, battle it out in front of the Sky cameras at Bristol's new home - Ashton Gate.
For fuller preview of other games, see HERE
One other game of note - Carmarthen Quins host West Walian neighbours Llandovery in a British & Irish Cup qualifier, with the winners set to join Jersey, Plymouth and Leinster A in pool 5 of this season's tournament and to travel to St Peter on October 11th
The rugby season in Jersey isn't in full swing yet, but Jersey Athletic will be in action with a friendly match in Normandy against Rugby Club du Pays de Coutances, which kicks off at 5pm local time. The Athletic lost 17-27 at home to Blackheath in their opening Zoo Shield encounter against Blackheath last weekend.
This week marked 20 years since the JRFC Clubhouse was opened on September 3rd 1994. The host club played against an England Classicals XV which included the likes of Huw Davies, Steve Smith and Dusty Hare, and it was quite an occasion both on and off the pitch.
At risk of breaking a long-established tour rule, there was some prodigious drinking after the match, and friendships were formed which sustain to this day - on Sunday the former England flanker Paul Simpson (pictured below) will be back on the Rock for a few beers with some of those he played against.
Anyone thinking that age may have slowed down the man who won
his first England cap (of a surprisingly low total of three) in a
15-9 defeat of New Zealand in 1983, be warned - as one of those
hosting him this weekend pleaded: "He drinks like a dehydrated
camel, I'll need help!"
Enjoy your weekend's rugby!