Dave Allen, mulled wine, and Mick the Munch meets Mick the
Welcome to this week's account of how our opponents got on
against Ealing last weekend, formerly known as the JRFC
This obsession with Ealing isn't healthy, even if some of their
top brass did develop a soft spot for our former Club Manager
during last season's visit. But as the old saying goes: "What goes
on tour, travels by helicopter..." or something like that.
But it's hard to avoid Ealing, not just because they still lead
the league, and are likely to stay that way over Christmas, but
because the fixture list is giving teams an unenviable
double-ticket of Ealing-then-Jersey at the moment. It will be
interesting to see what the computer throws up (too much mulled
wine?) for Jersey's next opponents - Ealing - who if my
calculations are correct must be playing with themselves this
Anyway, Blackheath, who travel to Jersey tomorrow for the last
league game of 2011, gave a damn fine account of themselves at
Rectory Field last weekend against the Trailfinders. It ended
27-27, and an alleged remark by a dispirited home forward that "we
could have won that if we'd been able to tackle."
Blackheath took an early lead through prodigious try-scoring
flanker Dave Allen, but two tries helped the visitors to a 15-10
lead at the break. Black heath dominated the third quarter, with
tries by Peter Squires and Sam Windsor opening a 24-15 lead, but
Ealing were not to be denied and former Blackheath man Sam
Wardingley scored two tries to seal the draw as well as a bonus
point for his team.
Blackheath's disappointment and a desire for revenge after
suffering their only home defeat of the season to Jersey in
September, should make for a fascinating encounter with a Jersey
team looking to finish off an impressive year, containing only
three defeats in 34 competitive fixtures thus far, by stretching
the current winning streak to 11 games.
Michael Fish writes...
The weather has been much discussed this week. After a record low
in rainfall for November, the overhead tap has been running
throughout December in Jersey, or so it seems, and a heavy pitch is
inevitable. However there is great optimism the surface will be
very much playable, with the prolonged rain of recent days forecast
to be replaced by showers for the 24 hours leading to kick-off.
Flying conditions could be a little bumpy, and it remains to be
seen whether Ealing's 'in-and-out-the-same-day' approach is as
successful for this weekend's visitors.
News from the Jersey corner
After a situation of 'positive equity' over injuries in recent
weeks, with more players returning to the fold than missing due to
fresh injury, the Islanders had bad news about potentially
long-term absences for tight-head prop Jon Brennan and captain/ 2nd
row Paul Rodgers. This is balanced by the successful returns of
hooker Dave Felton and loose-head Dai Maddocks, while Graham Bell's
ribs have recovered sufficiently to bring him into contention.
Steve O'Brien's calf injury rules him out, and Jersey will hope
stand-in captain Jim Brownrigg passes a late fitness test.
Meanwhile in the backs, Chris Levesley may have to wait until 2012
for his next taste of National League rugby, while Mike Le
Bourgeois may return to the fly-half slot with Ross Broadfoot
starting on the bench.
Jersey's winning run has contained all types of victories -
low-scoring slogs against Blaydon and Stourbridge, muddy
forward-based dominance over Cov and try-fests against Cambridge
and the Bees. This weekend looks like a muddy affair, but if the
result has the letter 'W' alongside it then few in the home camp
will mind how it's achieved.
The game at Rectory Field on September 10th saw Jersey rocked at
the start with 'Club' (as Blackheath are universally known among
their members) scoring two tries through forwards Dave Allen and
Jersey pulled it back to 16-13 by half-time thanks to Glenn
Bryce's try and Ross Broadfoot's boot, and then went ahead 27-16
thanks to tries by James Copsey and Nicky Griffiths, before the
hosts rallied with a late try by scrum-half Ben Ibrahim that
secured a bonus point, but nothing more.
Club's class of 2011/12
Blackheath started the season with narrow losses to Rosslyn Park
(20-26) and Ealing (21-26), the latter game was, like last
weekend's re-match, one Club felt they should have got more from,
certainly the draw that appeared the likely outcome until Sam
Wardingley - him again - crossed for the killer score at the
But after the home defeat by Jersey, there was a rally of five
straight wins that was only broken by a Cambridge side firing on
all cylinders at the end of October.
November saw home wins against Tynedale and Cov and a pair of
away defeats at Macc and Fylde, the latter game a close-fought
encounter that ended 28-22 to the Lancastrians. December started
with a straightforward win over the Bees before last Saturday's
draw with Ealing.
This season's Blackheath squad relies as usual on retaining
quality existing players and keeping successful combinations
together wherever possible. However, for the first time in a while
Blackheath seem to have got most of what they wanted in transfers
in the off-season, by strengthening the spine of the team. This
includes more depth at full-back and goal-kicking from Adam
Armstrong (129 points thus far this season), an England Counties No
8 [also at home at No 6] in Tom Stradwick from Henley and more
experience at hooker, where Gavin O'Meara [formerly of Leinster]
returns from Plymouth Albion [after a loan spell at 'Club' in 2009
while on the books of London Welsh].
The Club pack contains some real experience - props Des Brett
and Simon Legg have both been at Rectory Field around eight years,
as has second-row and skipper Tom Bason. Brett is one of the few
Nat 1 players older than Jersey prop Ben Evans! Flanker Dave Allen
is one of the star men and his battle with Jersey's Guy Thompson
will be a key encounter - both are key men at the breakdown, and on
the scoreboard - Allen scored 17 tries last season and has 11 so
far this time around.
In the backs, young scrum-half Jack Walsh is a real talent
tipped for great things and likely to start this weekend, while
there's some real gas on the left-wing from another youngster,
James Stephenson who has scored 11 tries so far this season. Centre
Sam Windsor scored 260 points last season and played in all 30
games - he is also ever-present this season along with captain
Bason and No 8 James Catt. But Windsor will be without partner
Richard Lankshear, who is out until well into 2012 with a shoulder
In spite of claims by Guy's Hospital to have been formed in the
1840s, Blackheath is agreed by many to be the oldest
continuously-operating club in England, and the third oldest in the
world after Dublin University and Edinburgh Academy.
Blackheath were one of the 20 founder members of the RFU from
1871 (and one of seven playing today - Richmond, Guy's, Harlequins,
Civil Service, Wellington College and King's College are the
others). In 1881 the club hosted the first ever international
between England and Wales, and two years later began playing at
their current HQ, Rectory Field.
Famous former players include Frederick Stokes, the first ever
captain of England, Scotland's Mike Campbell-Lamerton, the renowned
dual international CB Fry, Mick 'the Munch' Skinner and one of
England's current world Cup party, scrum half Joe Simpson of
League rugby began in the late 1980s, and Club began the 21st
Century at Level Four before being promoted in 2003/04. The period
at Level Three has been a solid one, with finishes of 9th, 9th,
5th, 4th, 6th, 8th and 6th in seven seasons thus far. 2010/11 even
included an early win over eventual champions London Scottish.
Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey
v Blackheath through the following channels:
• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey's Sportscene from 6-7pm on
Friday, and live commentary on Saturday afternoon. Even available
in south-east London for those who are online.
• Preview in Friday's JEP, and full match coverage on
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby
• Match report on Channel 103 on Saturday afternoon, either just
before or just after 5pm depending on how many times the ref stops
• Highlights on Channel TV at 6.15pm on Monday, and online.
Blackheath's website is also an excellent read with previews,
match report etc
This week's sermon ends with some parish notices: please would all
fans remembers it's a 2pm start, and to allow plenty of time
especially for car parking and entry to the ground. Or if you want
to let someone else take the strain, there are plentiful bus
options, as listed in the 'news' section of the jrfc.je site on
Enjoy your rugby this weekend. Oh, and until we start all over
again in early January, have a great Christmas and Happy New
Why not get yourself a Hot Pot (Curry or Chilli served with rice) in the supporters marquee £8 per pot.