Jersey Reds and their RFU Championship rivals will kick off 2023/24 with a chance to mix it with clubs from the top flight as tier two clubs gain the chance to take part in the Premiership Rugby Cup.
Featuring the 22 clubs from the top two tiers of the English system, the Prem Cup will see four pools contested over five consecutive weekends.
Later in September the Reds, fresh from their Championship title last season, will take on Bath and Exeter Chiefs, but ahead of that they travel to the Athletic Ground in south-west London to take on London Scottish in the pool C opener.
The surroundings will be familiar as every member of the visiting XXIII was involved in the recent pre-season win over Richmond.
Three new signings will make their competitive debuts in the starting XV: former Scarlets hooker Daf Hughes lines up in the front row with Greg McGrath and Adam Nicol, while ex-Bristol lock John Hawkins is paired with James Scott in the engine room. Established back-row trio Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (previously a Scottish player) and Alun Lawrence, who together have 12 seasons experience as Reds players, complete the starting pack.
Pete Sullivan, formerly of Lansdowne and Connacht, claimed two tries at the RAG a fortnight ago and makes his competitive bow in the back three alongside Ben Woollett and Brendan Owen, who also crossed for scores against Richmond. Alex McHenry and Jordan Holgate are reunited in midfield, while half-back duties will be taken on by Russell Bennett and James Elliott.
A fourth player is set to see his first competitive action from the bench: ex-Doncaster back row man Thom Smith joins fellow forwards James Hadfield, Sam Grahamslaw, Steve Longwell and Hallam Chapman, while back-line impact will be provided by James Mitchell, former Exile Dan Barnes and Scott Van Breda.
Overall the Reds and the Exiles have played 19 Championship games since first meeting in October 2012, when a 20-17 Jersey win was the newly-promoted club s first at level two. The Reds have a narrow 10-9 lead in these contests, but have also taken the 'W' in all six cup ties between the sides. The most recent contest was one of the closest, as the home side clung on to win 24-22 after a late penalty chance was squandered by the visitors.
After the game at the RAG, the Reds will set their sights on Gallagher Premiership opponents: Bath at the Rec on Saturday September 16th, a game that kicks off at 1pm and will be live on TNT Sports; and then the 2023/23 home opener as Exeter Chiefs visit Stade Santander International kick-off for the game on Saturday September 23rd will be at 2pm.
Jersey Reds squad v London Scottish (A) 2023/24 Premiership Rugby Cup, pool C round 1, Richmond Athletic Ground, Sunday September 10th, k-o 2pm (* competitive debut)
Brendan Owen; Ben Woollett, Alex McHenry, Jordan Holgate, Pete Sullivan*; Russell Bennett, James Elliott.
Greg McGrath, Daf Hughes*, Adam Nicol, John Hawkins*, James Scott, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt), Alun Lawrence.
James Hadfield, Sam Grahamslaw, Steve Longwell, Hallam Chapman, Thom Smith*; James Mitchell, Dan Barnes, Scott Van Breda.
29 Sep 2023
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