Reds confirm trio of pre-season matches18/05/2016
Jersey RFC will prepare for the club's fifth season in the second tier of English rugby with three pre-season matches in August on their home turf at St Peter.
Aviva Premiership club Worcester Warriors will provide the climax to the three-match build-up when they face the Reds on Saturday August 20th. Earlier in the month, Jersey will host two sides from National One - Coventry on Saturday August 6th and Ampthill on Saturday August 13th.
The match against Worcester will evoke memories of the 2014/15 season when the sides contested two thrilling encounters in the Greene King IPA Championship before the Warriors subsequently earned promotion via the play-offs. Jersey went down 32-29 at Sixways but then derailed Worcester's 24-match unbeaten run at St Peter with a 23-21 win sealed by Aaron Penberthy's late drop goal from 45 metres.
Reds' Head Coach Harvey Biljon said he was delighted to have secured Premiership opposition for his side's final warm-up encounter.
"Taking on Worcester will be a really serious final exam for our squad before the league season starts. After consolidating their Premiership status this season, I know Warriors will be looking to push on in 2016/17 and will have a talented squad of players making the trip. This is a great opportunity to test ourselves against a top-tier team.
"Our supporters will no doubt recall the home game against Worcester two seasons ago, and while a lot has happened since that match, we believe this has the potential to be an equally memorable game."
Worcester Warriors Director of Rugby Dean Ryan said: “Jersey is a tough place to go as we found out during the 2014/15 Championship season.
“It’ll be a challenge for us to go overseas and apply ourselves against a well-drilled side.”
After a ninth-placed finish in National One this season, Coventry have ambitions to move up the table and challenge for promotion to the Championship. A new coaching and management structure, led by former Northampton Saints and Cambridge Coach Rowland Winter, has been assembled in time for 2016/17. Jersey and Coventry met twice in National One in 2011/12, with the match at Butts Park Arena on the penultimate weekend of the season being the day the Reds sealed promotion thanks to a 13-37 win.
Coached by former Wales fly-half Paul Turner, whose son Tommy lives in Jersey and has played for the Island's 1st XV and Athletic sides, Ampthill finished fourth in National One this season, just a point behind runners-up Hartpury College. The Bedfordshire club met Jersey in the National Three Championship final at Twickenham in 2010, when the Reds won by 21-12.
Harvey Biljon added: "Both Coventry and Ampthill will be tough opponents - they are clubs who I expect to see in the mix at the top end of National One next April.
"If you look at the new coaching team at Coventry there is a lot of Championship experience, and they are clearly ambitious. Ampthill have had a great season and their squad includes some very experienced players who I'm sure will relish showing what they can do against a team from the division above."
The full schedule for the start of 2016/17 is as follows:
- Saturday August 6th: Jersey v Coventry
- Saturday August 13th: Jersey v Ampthill
- Saturday August 20th: Jersey v Worcester Warriors
- Weekend of September 2-4: Opening round of Greene King IPA Championship
Exact kick-off times for the August matches will be confirmed shortly.