With a debut on the wing for recent signing Fautua Otto, and a
fresh face at fly-half, Jersey will field a new-look backline For
this Saturday's Greene King IPA Championship clash with Bedford
Otto comes into the starting XV at left wing, while Lewis Robling
will make his first start at fly-half for the Islanders, having
been virtually ever-present at inside centre since joining Jersey
last summer. The changes also see Mark McCrea, a try-scorer in his
last two outings, move from wing to the centre berth formerly
occupied by Robling. Aaron Penberthy retains the full-back spot,
while Jonny Bentley switches to the bench.
Head Coach Harvey Biljon has also made three changes to his
starting pack. Martin Garcia-Veiga is back at hooker, swapping
places with Joe Buckle, who will be among the replacements. Pierce
Phillips is back at second row in place of the injured Dave
Markham, while Paula Kaho gets the nod at number 8 ahead of Michael
Noone, another player on the bench. New signing Gary Graham is
another waiting to make an impact in what would be his home
With the exception of a below-par display at Cornish Pirates on
the third day of the New Year, Jersey have had an encouraging 2015
to date. The Islanders gave former leaders Bristol a scare at St
Peter and have then gone undefeated for three matches, with wins
against Doncaster and Nottingham plus last Saturday's 20-20
draw at Rotherham.
Bedford hosted Jersey at the start of October and the Blues won a
fluctuating game by 25-20, gaining revenge for
their defeat at Goldington Road at the end of April when the
visitors sealed their Championship survival thanks to a 31-41
triumph (pictured below by Sue Trower). [You know the
drill, click on the scorelines for match reports]
2013/14 saw a double for Jersey, who also won 26-14 at
St Peter in September, but in the previous season the boot was on
the other foot: on their way to a play-off spot Bedford won 19-29 at
St Peter and 38-21 on home soil.
The two sides are closely-matched in this season's Championship:
the Blues currently have 31 points, three ahead of their hosts.
Jersey supporters will be watching the Bedford team announcement
with interest to see whether former players Michael Le Bourgeois, a
native of the Island, and Charlie Clare will feature against their
Jersey squad v Bedford 'H' - Greene King IPA Championship,
Saturday February 14th, St Peter - k-o 3pm
Alex Rae (capt)
Match-day at St Peter
Bedford have brought some of the largest contingents of away
supporters to the Island over the last two seasons, and although
they've landed a mid-winter slot for the fixture this time after
two September dates, good numbers are still expected.
It's also the second round of the RBS 6 Nations this weekend.
The England v Italy game will be recorded and shown in the
Clubhouse after the final whistle in the Jersey v Bedford match. We
won't be giving updates over the PA, should anyone wish to avoid
Those wanting to watch Ireland v France (k-o 5pm) should head
for the Pavilion, where earlier in the day we'll also be showing
the Championship match on Sky between leaders Worcester and
Rotherham (k-o 12.35pm).
The match-day forecast looks good too - latest (for Saturday)
from Jersey Met (at time of
writing i.e. dawn on Friday): "Mainly fair with sunny periods.
Isolated showers, most likely for the start of the morning. Wind
decreasing to F4 (NW) by afternoon, when the maximum temperature
will be 10c."
Bedford - a potted history
A few years after their separate foundations, Bedford Rovers and
Bedford Swifts joined forces in 1886 to form Bedford RUFC. Close
links between the club and two local schools - Bedford and Bedford
Modern - led to the choice of a dark and light blue strip,
reflecting further links between the schools and the Oxbridge
universities. This colour scheme exists to this day in the team kit
The club played at Goldington Road virtually from the outset,
hosting some of the leading teams of the era. In 1893/94 they lost
just one game out of 29 and in 1905 hosted the All Blacks - a 41-0
defeat was little disgrace given that the visitors lost just one
match of a lengthy tour.
Fast-forwarding a few years, and Bedford were a pre-eminent name
in English rugby in the 1960s thanks to the likes of national
captains Budge Rogers and David Perry. They won the Sunday
Telegraph English-Welsh Rugby Table in 1969/70 and were led by
Rogers to an 18-12 victory over Rosslyn Park in the 1975 John
Player Cup Final at Twickenham.
When the league era began in 1987 Bedford were at level two, and
the club has spent 21 of the ensuing 27 seasons at this level. The
exceptions were a one-season foray into Courage Division One in
1989/90, two years below stairs at level three in the mid-90s, and
then two years back at the top-flight, then named the Allied Dunbar
Premiership, from 1998-2000.
There were two eventful promotion play-offs with Rotherham during
this time, the first won on try count-back after a 38-38 draw and
the second lost 34-40 and resulting in relegation.
Like many clubs, Bedford have weathered the peaks and troughs of
the professional era. In 1996/97 boxing promoter Frank Warren and
the company Sports Network invested in the club and helped secure
some major signings and promotion to the Premiership. However the
club's sale in 1999 to Jefferson Lloyd International was
financially catastrophic and at one stage looked likely to involve
another sale and the club moving out of Bedford.
Following intervention by the RFU in October 1999 a consortium of
Bedford businessmen headed by David Ledsom, Geoff Irvine and David
Gunner with assistance from Bedford Borough Council and other
professional people, the transfer of the club to Bedford Blues Ltd.
Several thousand supporters and businesses in the town bought
shares and the club has held its own in the tough environment of
Director of Rugby Mike Rayer, 49, is in his tenth season in charge
- on the playing side - at Goldington Road. He won 21 caps at
full-back for Wales in the early 90s, scoring four tries including
a brace as a replacement against Scotland in 1994, and played two
seasons for Bedford between 1996 and 1998.
Blues are now in their 15th straight season at level two, making
them the 'Fathers' of this league (Plymouth Albion have the
next-longest tenure - two seasons shorter).
The Greene King IPA Championship this
There's just one other Saturday game as some clubs move their
fixtures away from the 6 Nations - Worcester host Rotherham in a
game that kicks off at 12.35pm and will be shown live by Sky.
On Sunday Plymouth will look to restart their recent revival at
home to London Scottish, while Doncaster and Moseley look to at
least maintain their breathing space ahead of Albion, with tough
away trips to the Mennaye Field and Ashton Gate respectively. The
final match is Yorkshire Carnegie v Nottingham.
The full Championship preview to round 15 is HERE
Happy Birthday to England's oldest-surviving international, who
reached three figures this week and has rightly attracted some
headlines to mark his centenary.
Quite a character, by the look of it, and hopefully, while not
an unqualified admirer of the RFU he's looking forward to his day
out at Twickenham for the Calcutta Cup match in a few weeks time.
You can read more about Harry HERE and hear from the man
Enjoy your weekend's rugby!
23 Mar 2023
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