Jersey Reds and Richmond will reach two decades of league rivalry later in 2022, meaning Saturday’s encounter at Stade Santander International is particularly eagerly-awaited.
Dating back to the 2002/03 season, the two clubs have built up a strong mutual respect, although the bonhomie will be suspended once the latest round of Championship matches gets underway.
After ringing the changes among half of his starting line-up ahead of last weekend’s win at Ampthill, Jersey Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon will send out a more settled starting XV.
James Mitchell and James Elliott have rotated frequently at scrum-half, with Mitchell getting the nod this week, while in the front row Steve Longwell is promoted from the bench to start at tight-head.
The final change comes in the back row, with new signing Alun Lawrence earning a start after impressing as a replacement on his debut at Ampthill. This means Tim Grey moves to flanker, while Lewis Wynne will be on the bench after captaining the Reds in every league game so far this season.
While Wynne waits to make an impact from the bench, lock forward Macauley Cook will lead out the side; Cook is one of only two players – alongside wing Will Brown – to have started all 13 Championship games so far.
Prop Jack Higgins and threequarter Ryan Olowofela both return to contention having been selected on the bench.
The current season is the seventh in the past two decades when the clubs have been in the same league. In 2002/03, Richmond were champions of London 3 South-West (level 7), defeating the Reds 3-32 at St Peter and 30-13 at the Richmond Athletic Ground as part of a run of 83 successive league wins.
In 2010/11 it was Jersey who gained promotion, from National Two South – honours between the two sides finished even, with Jersey winning 29-9 at St Peter having lost 25-14 in south-west London.
More recently the clubs have met eight times in the Championship, with the Reds winning six of the encounters and also taking the honours in two Championship Cup games. At the end of October last year, the visitors from Jersey made an impressive start at the RAG, with Wes White crossing in the fourth minute, and led 0-19 at the break; but it was a far closer affair after that, with Richmond closing the gap to just two points on the hour mark before the Reds claimed a fourth try and eventually won 20-26.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Richmond (H) – RFU Championship match 14/20, Stade Santander International, Saturday January 29th 2022, k-o 2pm
Scott Van Breda; Brendan Owen, Jack Roberts, Jordan Holgate, Will Brown; Tom Pittman, James Mitchell.
James Flynn, Eoghan Clarke, Steve Longwell, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook (capt), Alex Humfrey, Tim Grey, Alun Lawrence.
Harry Doolan, Roy Godfrey, Jack Higgins, Tom Everard, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne; James Elliott, Ryan Olowofela.
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