We hope all supporters are well and surviving the continuing strange circumstances of 2020. It’s almost five months since we were last at ‘normal’ status, with Phil Tufnell’s visit on Thursday March 12th quickly followed by the first Covid-related cancellations of fixtures as that weekend’s games for the 1st, Athletic and Women’s XVs were all lost.
Although things are some way from being back to normal, we hope they are at least progressing in the right direction, and there’s plenty to update everyone about since our last newsletter at the start of the summer.
Chairman’s report: 1st XV back in training – Championship – Field 790
The vast majority of players made it to the Island by the end of July and will start training this week. It’s not quite ‘business as usual’, with a range of special measures in place to ensure the players and coaching staff are complying with protocols – both those issued by the RFU and the Government of Jersey.
It’s too soon to know when the first fixtures will be played in the Greene King IPA Championship, but lots of planning is taking place at Twickenham and we are working with the organising body towards getting a structure for the 2020/21 season.
Pre-season games may be difficult to arrange – in the likely absence of such games we are looking at a ‘full-throttle’ trial match between two Reds’ XVs and hope that it will be possible for spectators to watch the game and to socialise before and afterwards. Again, this will be done in adherence with the latest guidelines.
New Forwards Coach Rob Webber is among the new arrivals and has already got to work with Harvey Biljon, Ed Robinson and the rest of the back-room team. There are also quite a lot of new players – see the ‘news’ page of our website for details.
Some of you may have read media reports regarding discussions about the future of the Championship from 2021 onwards. At this stage, no concrete decisions have been made and that means I can’t comment on the possible outcomes. But as a club we are engaging fully in the discussions with other Championship clubs, the RFU and other stakeholders and hope that a good solution will emerge.
During these challenging times, we have been hugely grateful for the ongoing backing of many of our loyal supporters and sponsors, many of whom have continued to back the club during the current period and, in many cases, extending this support into the future – thank you!
Finally, we’ve been pleased to see work start on the new Strive sports academy in recent months. The project is set on Field 790, with the transaction for the sale of this land by the club now completed. The sale has brought in significant income to the club, and we look forward to seeing the project evolve over the coming months.
Mark Morgan, Chairman
Although we’ve spent several months being unable to have players or supporters on site, there’s been plenty going on at Stade Santander International.
Staff and volunteers have been busy painting the entire clubhouse – inside and out. The Barclays Pavilion has also been refurbished, including a new carpet. It’s been pleasing to have been able to carry out this work at minimal cost.
Work has also been going on to provide new top-of-the-range changing facilities – again, this has not cost the club any money as a result of the generosity of a benefactor – to whom we are most grateful.
The new LED screen at the north-west corner of the 1st XV pitch is being installed and it’s hoped this work will be complete by the end of August. This project has been made possible as a result of a commercial deal, meaning that there’s no cost to the club. We will be working with the Media and IT departments at Highlands College in a partnership that will ensure we have operators for the screen once rugby resumes.
We hope that once Jersey moves to level one of the exit process from lockdown, that we will be able to welcome members back for some form of socially-distant events, hopefully including the AGM – which you’ll recall was postponed from the original date at the end of May – and a chance to hear from Harvey and his fellow coaches and to meet our new recruits. We’re working hard on arrangements that will mean we can host events in line with latest government guidance.
Sean Dunne, Operations Manager
Although there’s no definite news about when competitive rugby can be played, both the Athletic and Women’s squads have resumed light training and we hope that there will be fixtures scheduled in December.
In a bid to keep the squad active and together, the Athletic boys have already played some cricket matches over the summer, and both the Athletic and Women have registered with the Jersey Football Association with the idea of participating in some local fixtures during the late summer and autumn, prior to it being possible to playing rugby.
It’s been great to sign up Tom Williams and TJ Harris as the new coaches for Jersey Reds Women – both of them have already been planning how players can make the best use of their extended pre-season.
Far less welcome news regarding the Women’s XV is the confirmation that there will be no travel funding from the RFU for the 20/21 season – we hope this will only be a one-off cut, but nevertheless it will have a significant impact.
As a result of the drop in funding income from the RFU, we are seeking to attract additional sponsorship for both the Women’s and Athletic XVs.
We were sorry to learn that other commitments meant that Kenan Osborne was unable to continue in the role of Chairman of Amateur beyond the end of last season, but would like to thank Kenan for his contribution. I have now taken on this role.
Cliff Chipperfield, President & Chairman of Amateur
Membership & season tickets
Many members and season ticket holders have pledged their support for the Reds by renewing for 2020/21, even before it is certain when rugby will resume. If you have not yet managed to renew, please consider doing so – details are available on our website or you can email Vicki.Perchard@jerseyreds.je
We will provide further updates about the various matters covered in this newsletter, and any other relevant news. Please also keep an eye on our social media channels: our in-house video partners 3Ci Sport will be spending time with the 1st XV squad over the coming weeks and will be sharing content.
Come On You Reds! #COYR