Jersey return to league action this weekend, taking on Rotherham
Titans in Round 13 of the Greene King IPA Championship. Kick-off at
St Peter is at 3pm.
The Islanders' Cup outing to Ayr last weekend was memorably
described by local stringer Ron Evans in his piece for the JEP as
'an old fashioned game of blood and snotters'. The writer quoted
Ayr-born Rabbie Burns and described a bout of fisticuffs late in
the match as 'a wee stramash', lauding the home side's tenacious
victory in the mud.
The relevance of all this? Well it's precisely because Rotherham's
last trip to Jersey, exactly 52 weeks ago, was another 'blood and
snotters' affair, the old-fashioned feel enhanced by being played
on muddy pitch 2 at St Peter, with ropes round the pitch and 1,808
spectators massed behind them. And it ended with a massive stramash
featuring fast-flowing traffic in both directions into and out of
Visiting officials were none too impressed at having to move away
from the main arena at St Peter, although there was no dispute
about the non-playability of the surface, and Titans' Head Coach
Alex Codling was left fuming as his side were denied a penalty try
late in the first half, and then had the possibility of a winning
score in the last play snatched away. Although one might add, in
the interests of balance, that many Jersey supporters were
convinced that seven of Roth's 10 points stemmed from a Charlie
Mulchrone try that wasn't properly grounded.
A year on and the Jersey winter rain has not been as unrelenting;
this fact, plus the drainage work carried out last summer, should
leave pitch one in decent shape, which should please a visiting
side who have clocked up 43 tries thus far in 12 league outings, a
clear 25 ahead of their hosts.
Jersey will be hoping to give Head Coach Harvey Biljon the perfect
start after the new recruit took overall charge this Monday, and
the South African has re-energised a squad whose self-confidence
levels had waned in the closing weeks of 2013.
But it's a tough ask against the side who led the Championship
earlier in the season and have remained in touch with big guns like
London Welsh, Bristol and Leeds. The Titans are currently second,
just two points behind Welsh, and have won eight matches on the
spin, a run of consecutive victories they've not achieved since
2002/03, when Roth won 24 of their 26 games, and promotion to the
Although the visitors from Yorkshire have a loyal clutch of
supporters heading across the Channel, the hosts are looking to
make the most of home advantage with a bumper and partisan crowd at
St Peter. They'll be rustling up extra interest with a Friday
lunchtime trip to St Helier (details HERE)
News from the Jersey camp
The Jersey squad will be confirmed at around 12noon on Friday.
You can read it HERE
Rotherham in 2013/14
The changes of personnel at Clifton Lane this summer were
considerable with 22 new signings for the club. Among those who
departed were Jerseyman Joe Ellyatt, now plying his trade in
France, and two who were signed for Jersey by Ben Harvey -
scrum-half Jimmy Williams and returning flanker Latu Makaafi. Both
should feature in Jersey's squad this weekend, and home scrum-half
Nicky Griffiths will no doubt be pleased to see Latu lining up in a
red shirt after being on the receiving end of a particularly
vigorous tackle from the Tongan last January (pictured below).
Among the new faces this season were fly-half Dallan Murphy from
Queensland Reds, the Argentine centre Juan Pablo Socino, the return
of number 8 Alfie To'oala and fellow back row man Ed Williamson,
who also coaches the forwards. Props were sourced from an eclectic
range of sources such as Portugal (Mike Dias) and Otley (Toby
Watch out for live-wire scrum-half Mulchrone and top try-scorer Tom
Cruse (he has six league and two cup tries thus far, so is level
with team-mate Michael Keating (winger).
Socino is a prodigious kicking talent, currently top of the pops by
far in the Championship rankings with 167 points from kicks (and
three tries). The Argentine landed 13 from 13 in the 79-9 walloping
of Ealing in September and will be opposing the man who is second
in the kicking table, Jersey's Niall O'Connor (109).
One face who will be missing is powerhouse Number 8 Laurence
Pearce, who sustained a knee injury last weekend. Pearce, Socino
and Mulchrone have all been named as possible transfer targets for
Premiership clubs at the end of this season.
The big win over Ealing followed a 42-24 win over Moseley in the
double-header that started the season at nearby Castle Park in
Doncaster, and Roth claimed a September double over Mose with a
slightly more emphatic 21-47 win at Billesley Common.
October featured the 27-32 home defeat by Welsh, a dour 12-11 home
cup win over Bedford in appalling conditions, and defeat in
Connacht in the second round of the B&I. Then Roth faced a
tough Friday night at the Athletic Ground in Richmond but edged an
exciting contest 23-24 over the Blue Exiles, Cruse claiming two
After the win over Jersey at Clifton Lane, Roth had tough away
matches at Leeds and Bristol. They competed gamely on each occasion
and were unfortunate to have a zero return after 19-10 and 36-26
But since then it has been wall-to-wall wins - a close shave at
home over Notts (17-11), road success at Plymouth (17-28) and then
the Cup double over Llanelli in December in two close games.
Bedford were beaten soundly at the Lane on Boxing Day (35-6) and
Roth took full advantage of having two festive fixtures with a
35-30 win over the Pirates at the start of January. They have since
racked up Cup wins over Connacht 'A' and Bedford (who must be
getting fed up with them) to seal a QF spot in the B&I.
Jersey travelled to Clifton Lane on a sunny late summer Saturday in
September 2012, and were rocked in the first half
as tries by Eamonn Sheridan, Carl Kirwan, Alex Rieder and Pale Nonu
helped Titans to a 34-10 interval lead. Dai Bishop's interception
was Jersey's only try.
The second half was an improvement, in fact Jersey 'won' it 21-20
and in the process picked up their first Championship point of the
season, for scoring four tries following second-half efforts from
Nathan Hannay, Glenn Bryce, and another Bishop effort following a
length-of-the-field move. Roth scored further tries through Garry
Law and Michael Doneghan, with Law adding 24 points with a flawless
10-from-10 kicking record.
A full report on the game, which finished 54-31, can be found HERE.
January 2013: It may not have been a thing of
beauty, but there was no shortage of tension in the return match at
The last minute had it all, with a fight breaking out in
centre-field involving Jersey's Barry Davies and one of his
colleagues, who escaped from Alcatraz, sorry the sin-bin, to join
the fun, as well as some visiting players. Roth had been attacking,
looking for a winning try, and were initially given a penalty that
could either have been kicked for a draw, or run for victory, but
then play was called back to half-way, and the game was up.
Charlie Mulchrone and Guy Thompson scored the game's two tries.
Roth had the twin consolations of a losing BP and being one of the
only packs all season to give Jersey's talismanic tight-head Jon
Brennan any difficulty - 'the Bear' was yellow-carded in the first
half. It finished 13-10 - see HERE for a full report.
Jersey's second visit to Clifton Lane in November
2013 was a rather tighter effort than the first. Charlie
Mulchrone scored early for the hosts, but Jersey hit back through
Ben Maidment's try. Cruse and Keating scored tries before
half-time, but O'Connor's boot enabled Jersey to take the break
just 19-16 behind.
Jersey tried to edge ahead in the second half, and Mark McCrea went
close, while Roth hoped to gain a try bonus. The Titans were
denied, but did manage to deprive Jersey of their losing bonus with
a penalty from Socino in added time. See match report HERE
History of Rotherham
Rotherham and local rivals Doncaster actually had a lower ranking
than Jersey when the RFU leagues came in 26 years ago. Jersey began
the new era in London Three South-West, level seven, while
Rotherham were in North East Division One, one rung down the
The Yorkshiremen's rise was earlier and even steeper than Jersey's
recent ascent - no fewer than seven promotions in 13 seasons saw
Rotherham reach the Premiership in 2000. This included three
successive promotions to go from level five to level two (the same
jump Jersey recently made starting in 09/10) between 1993 and
It's a tough call whether it was harder for Rotherham to reach the
Premiership or to stay there. First of all the club missed
automatic promotion in 1998/99 by a slither of points difference to
Bristol, and then lost a two-legged play-off with Bedford on try
count-back after a 38-38 aggregate scoreline (not the last time the
teams took part in a 76-point thriller). 12 months later, it was
another play-off, again versus Bedford, with Roth triumphant 40-34
over the two games.
Sadly it was straight back down from the Prem after just two
wins, and then a denial of promotion the following season in the
first example of ring-fencing at the top level. Roth overcame this
hurdle with promotion in 2002/03 and some robust legal challenging,
and played their most recent Premiership rugby at Millmoor, then
home of Rotherham United, in 2003/04.
Once again it proved a task too far to stay at the top level and
Roth have since been more settled at level two, a.k.a. The
Championship, in recent years. Their best finish was second spot in
2006/07 while in 2009/10 it was necessary to contest the relegation
play-offs. In 2011/12 the club finished seventh in the league but
were then last of the four clubs in Pool B of the play-offs.
Rotherham's original history dates back to the club's formation in
1923 by a number of locals who had been introduced to the game at
grammar or private schools. The early years were nomadic, until
Clifton Lane was secured in the late 1930s.
After reformation in 1946, the club struggled both on and off the
field until the 1960s when a greater flow of players from local
Well-known players with Rotherham connections include Moseley Head
Coach and 70-times Ireland cap Kevin Maggs, Spanish wing Oriol
Ripol, Irish scrum-half Guy Easterby, Henry Paul, John Bentley and
Dave Scully. 14-times-capped Samoan Mike Umaga played 123 times for
Roth, later becoming Player-Coach. Lock John Dudley played
throughout the rise to the Premiership, his final appearance coming
in September 2000 against a Newcastle squad containing the likes of
Jonny Wilkinson, Gary Armstrong, George Graham, Liam Botham, Inga
Tuigamala and Ross Beattie.
Andre Bester first became Head Coach and Chief Executive in
2005/06. He left in 2007 and took over coaching duties at
Birmingham & Solihull in 2007/08, shortly after the departure
of Ben Harvey from his final position before moving to Jersey.
Bester was back at the (coaching) helm at Clifton Lane in 2010,
before leaving in October 2012.
Bester's replacement, Alex Codling, was in post for just six
months, leaving at the end of the 2012/13 season (Roth again
finished seventh) and being replaced by one of his players, Lee
Blackett, 31, spent three seasons with the club a decade ago,
making his debut in a Zurich Premiership game against Bath at
Millmoor in January 2004. He moved across Yorkshire to Leeds in
2006 but returned to Roth as a player in summer 2012.
Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v
Roth through the following channels:
• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey on Friday from 5.30pm, and live
commentary on Saturday afternoon (available online and on your
transistor-wireless device). NB the Beeb will also be covering the
Jersey Football Combination XI's quarter-final tie in the FA
Inter-League Cup against Dorset, which kicks off at 2pm, so the
coverage may be shared up until 4pm
• Preview in Friday's JEP, and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby
• Match report 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
The Greene King IPA Championship this
The result most supporters at St Peter will be most keen to find
out - apart from their own - is the clash between Moseley and
Ealing. The Londoners have won at bottom-four rivals Jersey and
Nottingham in their past three league games, and will be seeking a
triple crown. On Sunday play-off probables London Welsh and Leeds
square up at the Kassam - the Oxford side won 24-31 at Headingley
in early November.
Saturday January 25
Bedford Blues v Nottingham Rugby, KO 15:00
London Scottish v Cornish Pirates, KO 15:00
Moseley v Ealing Trailfinders, KO 15:00
Sunday January 26
London Welsh v Leeds Carnegie, KO 14:30
Bristol Rugby v Plymouth Albion, KO 15:00
In local rugby action this weekend, there's a return to action for
Jersey Athletic. The newly-formed Amateur side has been in
hibernation for several weeks, but they'll emerge blinking in the
sunlight in West Sussex, taking on Worthing at 1pm on Saturday.
Earlier the same day Banks host Guernsey 2nds at Grainville at
11.30am, while the following day Beeches host Jersey 2nds at LQ at
Don't forget Jersey's Tongan twosome Latu and Elvis are raising
funds for cyclone relief in their home country, including
head-shaving and a cake sale in the clubhouse after the match -
Was also good to see a rugby player grabbing the headlines as
Lloyd Duke, a flanker with National Two side the Cornish All
Blacks, being short-listed as Britain's Sexiest Farmer
Enjoy your weekend's rugby!
Why not get yourself a Hot Pot (Curry or Chilli served with rice) in the supporters marquee £8 per pot.