Shell-shocked, or motivated? Jersey wait to see what
hosts Bristol have in store
The peaks and troughs of professional rugby have been a feature
of life for Bristol Rugby since the game opened up in the
mid-1990s, at which point Jersey were playing their rugby in London
Division Four. The chances of the two sides meeting were remote,
even as recently as 2005 when Jersey began their climb up the
The ascent has now reached level two, and while the newcomers
are at the bottom end of the table, they travel to the Memorial
Stadium with a little bit of form behind them: four matches
unbeaten, including successive league wins. The home side, in
contrast, have been searching their souls after a 63-7 hammering at
Nottingham last Sunday.
Recent form has persuaded some to suggest that Jersey might even
be favourites for the game, although a glance at the pedigree of
the Bristol squad makes this, surely, a fanciful notion. But
certainly one team will be under far greater pressure to perform.
Bristol get the league's biggest crowds, and the home supporters
expect them to be at the top of the table and challenging for a
return to the top table, not languishing in eighth place with just
three wins from eight league game so far.
Jersey's followers hope that the home team may still be
shell-shocked following their defeat last weekend, and feeling the
pressure, while Bristol will be desperate to put on a show in front
of their passionate home crowd.
News from the Jersey camp
Director of Rugby Ben Harvey has made just two changes to his
starting XV from the line-up who defeated Plymouth Albion last
weekend, plus a positional switch and one new face on the
Winger James Copsey, scorer of Jersey's lone try in the 16-14
win over Albion, misses out with an ankle injury. Former Osprey and
Welsh international Barry Davies comes into the side at full-back,
with Glenn Bryce taking Copsey's place on the wing. Chris Levesley
(above) is the player called up to the replacements' bench and
could make his first appearance of the season.
"James has scored two good tries in the past fortnight, so it
will be a loss," states Harvey. "But others in the team need to
step up and show that they can finish equally well."
At scrum-half Nicky Griffiths returns to the starting XV in
place of Brendan O'Brien, who switches to the bench.
Harvey will be taking on the side where he began his senior
playing career in the mid-1990s, while another member of the
visiting party is centre Ashley Maggs. The Bristolian spent two
years with his home-town club from 2006 but failed to win 1st XV
selection and became one of Harvey's first signings when he move to
the Channel islands in 2008.
"Bristol have been one of the old guard of English rugby for
decades and decades, but we will go there with confidence and
aiming to keep up the momentum of recent weeks," Harvey added.
After losing their first six Championship games, Jersey have
been undefeated in their last four matches, including successive
league victories that lifted the Islanders off the bottom of the
table ahead of the ninth round of games this weekend.
Jersey squad, sponsored by Locate Jersey and
1 Sean McCarthy
2 Steve Boden
3 James Gethings
4 Rob Anderson
5 Nathan Hannay (capt)
6 Paul Rodgers
7 Kingsley Lang
8 Guy Thompson
9 Nicky Griffiths
10 Mike Le Bourgeois
11 Ed Dawson
12 Ashley Maggs
13 Donovan Sanders
14 Glenn Bryce
15 Barry Davies
16 Dave Felton
17 Richard Barrington
18 Jon Brennan
19 James Voss
20 Dave Markham
21 Brendan O'Brien
22 Chris Levesley
Bristol in 2012/13
Liam Middleton began the build-up to his second season in charge
with a busy spell of transfer activity. The incoming brigade were
spearheaded by former Leicester scrum-half James Grindal, 32, who
racked up around 220 league appearances in a 13-season career
including spells at both Welford Road and with Newcastle.
Grindal is backed up by the experienced Kiwi number 9 Ruki
Tipuna, while at fly-half there are also two tried-and-tested
options in Adrian Jarvis, who spent three years at the Mem from
2008-11 and has since rejoined via Leeds and London Irish, and
Tristan Roberts, whose former clubs include Cinderford, Gloucester,
Moseley and Doncaster.
Although the half-back positions may best reflect the strength
of the Bristol squad, there's no shortage of talent and experience
elsewhere. Several players are back at Bristol after spells
elsewhere, such as centre Luke Eves, who was with Bristol for four
years and then went to Newcastle in 2010 before returning, while on
the wing look out for Michael Tagicakibau who was a summer signing
The Bristol back-line has been depleted through long-term
injuries to centres Bryan Rennie and Fautua Otto, and former
Gloucester full-back Jon Goodridge, and the Nottingham game claimed
another victim in the centre with Jack Gadd suffering an injury
that will rule him out until around Christmas.
Added beef in the forwards arrived this summer in the shape of
props Kyle Traynor from Edinburgh and Gaston Cortes from Cordoba in
Argentina, and the Argentine influence continues with
nine-times-capped Mariano Sambucetti in the second row, alongside
Roy Winters. Born in 1975, the same year as Jersey's Ben Evans,
Winters spent five years at both Bedford and Harlequins early in
his career before joining Bris in 2005.
Back row options include the former Gloucester flanker James
Merriman and another returnee via Kingston Park, Red Pennycook,
whose brother Chevvy was formerly at the Mem but now plays for
Having topped the pile in the regular season last time out,
Bristol were one of the favourites for a play-off spot this season,
although their odds were not surprisingly longer than
newly-relegated Newcastle, who were setting out their stall to
return whence they came at the earliest opportunity.
The Falcons stall was a mobile one to begin the season, and its
first port-of-call happened to be the Mem, with Bristol finishing
beaten but not disgraced by 20-37 (only Bedford have achieved a
lower deficit against Newcastle thus far in losing 20-29 last
Things were likely to get easier, and so they did with gritty
but reasonably emphatic wins over Doncaster and the Pirates, but
then Bris met a Leeds side at its peak and were on the wrong end of
a 50-31 scoreline at Headingley. This signalled the start of a
rough patch that continued with a home defeat by Moseley where The
Rugby Paper described a game where Bristol were trying to convert
four points for a win into a full-house five, but lost possession
and ended up with just a single point in a 21-22 defeat. And then
it was up to Rotherham, and another loss, by 23-16.
The British & Irish Cup brought relief in the form of wins
over Cardiff and Ulster 'A', and the cup momentum carried on into
the Championship when Bedford were convincingly beaten at the Mem,
only for the wheels to come off by the time Liam Middleton's men
turned out at Meadow Lane.
Bristol Rugby team to face Jersey:
Jason Hobson is included in the starting line-up for the
first time this campaign as Bristol Rugby look to bounce back
against Jersey on Sunday (3pm KO).
The prop - who scooped the Club's Player of the Year award
last season - returns from a lengthy spell on the sidelines,
providing a timely boost to Liam Middleton's plans.
The Head Coach makes a total of eight changes from the
side that went down to a 63-7 drubbing at the hands of Nottingham
George Watkins and Ben Mosses are named in the backline, while
Adrian Jarvis makes his first competitive start for Bristol since
joining in the summer.
Bruce Douglas and Mariano Sambucetti come into the front
five in place of Gaston Cortes and Ben Glynn, while skipper Iain
Grieve starts in the back-row.
Kyle Traynor (Scotland) and Alafoti Faosiliva (Samoa) are
unavailable after being called up for international duty.
Middleton opts for a five forwards and two backs split on
the bench, with Rhys Lawrence returning to the 22-man squad after a
Bristol (15-9, 1-8):
Jack Tovey; George Watkins, Luke Eves, Ben Mosses, Mike
Tagicakibau; Adrian Jarvis, Ruki Tipuna; Bruce Douglas, Ross
Johnston, Jason Hobson, Mariano Sambucetti, Roy Winters, Iain
Grieve (c), Redford Pennycook, Mitch Eadie.
Replacements: Rhys Lawrence, Mark Lilley, Wayne Thompson,
Ben Glynn, James Merriman, James Grindal, Tristan Roberts.
History of Bristol Rugby Club
The club was formed in 1888 through the merger of two local sides
Redland Park and Westbury Park, and within 12 years had their first
England cap, J.W. Jarman. A contemporary was James Peters, who
played for Bristol prior to becoming the first black man to play
for England in 1906.
Bristol played the touring New Zealanders in 1905, and in 1921
the Memorial Ground was opened.
An interesting name from the 1940s was the athlete Jack Gregory,
who won a sprint-relay silver medal at the 1948 Olympics in London
and was also capped at rugby by England.
Two of Bristol's finest years came in 1965/66, when the 1st XV
won 39 games, and in 1971/72 when the club were unofficial
champions of England and also the Anglo-Welsh league. The former
England skipper John Pullin was a lynchpin of the Bristol side
during this period.
In 1983 Bris won the John Player Cup, beating Leicester 28-22
under the captaincy of England flanker Mike Rafter. The team
included Alan Morley, who scored 384 tries for Bristol in 519
appearances between 1968 and 1986.
When the league era began, Bristol competed at the top level for
11 seasons and relegation in 1997/98 was a one-season affair. The
club bounced straight back and recruited proven performers like
Henry Honiball (South Africa), Uruguayan prop Pablo Lemoine,
Canadian flanker Al Charron, the feisty second row Garath Archer
and Argentine scrum-half Agustin Pichot. Pichot was joined the
following year by his compatriot Manuel Contepomi and the
Australian centre Jason Little, plus England prop Julian White.
Bristol looked set at the top level, but the 2002/03 season
ended up as a bitter memory when owner Malcolm Pearce pulled out
and the club ended up relegated. This time it took two seasons to
get back up, but in 2006/07 under the guidance of former England
scrum-half Richard Hill, the club achieved their highest-ever
league ranking, third in the Premiership, followed by a play-off
loss to Leicester Tigers.
Once again there was a swing in fortunes before too long and in
2009 Bristol were relegated, with former England full-back Paul
Hull replacing Hill. There were hopes of getting straight back up,
but these were dashed at the final hurdle with play-off defeat by
Exeter, who won just 9-6 at home but then beat Bristol soundly at
the Mem 29-10 in the second leg. 2010/11 was a disappointment, with
the club only just escaping the ignominy of the relegation
play-offs, but again there was the opportunity to strengthen and
rebuild, resulting in a far stronger showing in 2011/12.
Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Bristol
v Jersey through the following channels:
• Live commentary on BBC Jersey, available online and on your
transistor-wireless device, with the show starting at 2pm. Before
that the 'Beeb' will look ahead to the game on Friday evening from
5.30 to 6pm and also during Saturday afternoon's Sportscene
• The JEP will look ahead to the game in both Friday and
Saturday's editions, and there'll be full match coverage on
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby
The Championship this weekend
Just as well Sky aren't covering our august division this weekend,
or the label 'Sod-All Saturday' might have been pressed into
Friday: Newcastle v Nottingham in a top-of-the-table
encounter; Doncaster v Bedford; Plymouth v London Scottish
Sunday: Pirate v Rotherham; Leeds v Moseley (at
Richmond Vikings visit Jersey this weekend hoping for better
weather than when their trip was aborted last season. They play
Jersey Athletic at 12.30pm at St Peter tomorrow, while the other
game with local interest is on Sunday - good luck to the ladies of
Jersey United Banks in their league match at Bracknell.
The Autumn internationals also start this weekend - among the
games are two that will be live in the clubhouse after the Richmond
game - England v Fiji at 2.30 and Ireland v South Africa at half
Enjoy your weekend's rugby
Why not come a chillout in the supporters marquee before the game, A fully stocked bar and food is available, seated and standing tables, on a first come first served basis and a great place to meet the Reds supporters.