Making your mind up... on limited
Jersey v Bristol, Saturday 28th September 2013, KO
Recent days have seen the start of at least two new seasons.
Autumn started officially last Sunday and it also seems that the
'jumping to premature conclusions' season is also getting into
So there's been some real wailing and gnashing of teeth from
Bedford fans as their side lies at the bottom of the table, without
any points and rubbing shoulders with new boys Ealing, just because
they've lost two games out of 23 and haven't even set foot on their
home ground for a competitive game.
Meanwhile London Welsh are being lauded as world-beaters as they
have a 100% record i.e two wins, and Rotherham have made the early
running. Plymouth are unbeaten, but will be cautious after last
season when they won four out of five but ended up in the
relegation battle until close to the end of the season.
Jersey have swung from miserable losers, thanks to a horror
half-hour against Plymouth on opening weekend, to all-conquering
heroes, having despatched last season's finalists last
Bristol are also played one, won one; losing the opening encounter
with Pirates at Sandy Park, but really finding their feet last
Sunday after trailing 7-10 to London Scottish at half-time, going
on to win 31-18.
There are some high expectations among the Bristolian faithful
after some significant investment in squad-building that began
shortly after the arrival of the club's Director of Rugby, a former
England and Scotland Coach, and ex-flanker for bitter West Country
rivals B**h. Andy Robinson took office on March 1, and within a
fortnight had taken sole charge after the departure of Coach Liam
Aside from the great expectations, Robinson's main concern is an
extensive injury list, particularly among his backs. Four of them
are certain to be out of the trip to Jersey: full-backs Jack Tovey
and Jack Wallace, utility back Errie Claassens and finally centre
Luke Eves, whose run of 34 Championship matches without missing a
minute came to an end with a hand injury last Sunday that required
surgery ruling him out for six to eight weeks.
Five other backs have also suffered knocks or are returning from
injury and were listed as doubtful: fly-half Nicky Robinson,
wingers George Watkins and Charlie Amesbury, and centres Fautua
Otto and Bryan Rennie. Robinson will hope to have at least some of
them available, or his squad may be stretched to its limits.
Jersey hope the win against Bedford will inspire a surge in crowd
numbers from last Saturday's none-too-shoddy 2,265, and that the
Island side can once again prove they can mix it with the leading
sides. Bristol, who were cheered on by an impressive 5,320 last
Sunday and should have decent away support, will want to keep their
upward momentum going by emulating their win on Jersey soil six
months ago. Whatever happens, expect a fresh wave of premature
conclusions to be jumped to by the time the dust settles.
News from the Jersey camp
Jersey have fewer worries about absentees, although back row is
a concern after Fred Silcock, a try-scorer against Bedford, copped
a two-week ban for swinging arm offences in both opening
Championship games, while Latu Makaafi nurses a broken jaw. Joe
Buckle (below) is the last remaining out-and-out number 7 available
- don't tell the visitors which club he used to play for.
Jersey's back-line may show little change from the VII who
started against Blues, although Drew Locke's possible return from
injury could bring about a change. This is all speculation until
the team is announced on Friday morning when it will be posted on
Bris brace themselves for 13/14 campaign
After the 21-23 defeat at the hands of Cornish Pirates on the
opening day of the season, Bris hit back last weekend to secure a
bonus point against London Scottish at the Memorial Stadium.
Marco Mama and James Merriman crossed either side of half time,
before Bristol were awarded a penalty try after a strong surge at
the scrum. With time on the clock running out, Glen Townson rumbled
over from close range to seal maximum points against the
Former Bath Rugby back-rower Ben Skirving was one of a number of
new faces, while Mark Sorenson (Northampton Saints), Charlie
Amesbury (Sale Sharks), James Hall (Newcastle Falcons), Nicky
Robinson (Wasps), Ben Mosses (Bath), Andy Short (Worcester), Ollie
Hayes (Worcester), Jack Wallace (Wasps), Errie Claassens
(Worcester), Adam D'Arcy (Ulster), Nick Koster (Bath) and Rupert
Freestone (unattached) were also added.
Robinson has also welcomed Sean Holley to his coaching staff,
with the former Ospreys Head Coach taking on the role of First Team
Coach. Matt Ferguson (Forwards Coach) remains in position for his
second full season with the Club, while Matthew Sherratt continues
to oversee the attack.
At the Memorial Stadium on Remembrance Day, three tries in a
20-minute spell midway through the first half helped Bristol to a
17-6 interval lead over Jersey. Mariano Sambucetti added his second
try of the game in the second period, and Rhys Lawrence crossed
twice, to complete a six-try, 39-16 win.
Jersey's points came from two penalties by Mike Le Bourgeois, a
last minute try by Richard Barrington, and a conversion by Donovan
Sanders. But the Islanders also suffered two yellow cards, plus a
red for Ashley Maggs' tip-tackle against his former club. The full
report can be accessed HERE.
In March Bristol travelled St Peter and completed the double over
the Islanders,who were left fuming after being denied a winning
score in the final move of the game.
With time up and the scoreboard reading 23-29, Jersey were
hammering at the visitors' line and replacement prop James Gethings
forced his way over. The Irishman's team-mates were convinced the
ball had been grounded, but referee Ross Campbell, after consulting
his Assistant, ruled 'held up' and blew for full time, to the
frustration of the majority in a season-high crowd of 3,074 at St
Jersey lead 16-9 at the break, Nicky Griffiths (celebrating
above) having scored the only try thus far, and the Islanders were
23-15 up on the hour after Guy Thompson crossed, only for the
visitors to pull ahead through tries by Fautua Otto and Lee Jarvis,
the latter completing a 24-point haul. See the full report HERE.
History of Bristol RFC
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 of Jarman's was
James Peters, who played for Bristol (and Plymouth) 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.
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
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 (pictured below), 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
15 of the first 16 seasons. Jersey Director of Rugby Ben Harvey
began his pro career there in the mid-1990s, and is even rumoured
to have played against Andy Robinson in one of the hotly-contested
local derbies between Bris and B**h.
The 2002/03 season ended up as a bitter memory, when owner Malcolm
Pearce pulled out and the club ended up relegated. 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. 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 until another play-off defeat, this
team by the Pirates.
Bristol are in their fifth season in the Championship since
relegation in 2009. Multi-millionaire Stephen Lansdown became the
majority shareholder in early 2012, although his investment in the
club goes back to 2008/09. Lansdown also owns Bristol City FC, in
which he is quoted as saying he has invested an "embarrassing"
amount he estimated at north of £50million. The two clubs are set
to co-habit at City's Ashton Gate ground from next season, which
will mean leaving the Memorial Ground seven years before its
centenary. Current owners Bristol Rovers FC are expected to carry
on at the Mem in the short-term, but the ground is eventually set
to be redeveloped into a supermarket.
In 2012/13 Bristol were 'there or thereabouts' for most of the
season but dropped off the pace in the closing stages. They rallied
with a notable triumph 14-19 in the last game at Kingston Park, the
only time Champions Newcastle were downed, but ended up being
pipped to the final play-off spot by two points by Leeds, who held
off Nottingham 30-26 on the same day.
Information for supporters is available HERE. The
club will be open on Friday from 5.30- 7.30pm, and on Saturday the
gates open at 12noon ahead of KO at 3pm.
There are new arrangements for those travelling by car to St Peter
this season. Please see this notice for details
and allow extra time for your journey.
Following the Game
There's no substitute for being here, but you can keep
up-to-speed with news from Jersey v Bristol through the following
• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey on Friday from 5.30pm, and live
commentary on Saturday afternoon (available online and on your
transistor-wireless device). BBC Bristol will also be providing
• Preview in Friday's JEP, more rugby in Saturday's 'Inside
Centre' pull-out, and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby
• Match report on Channel 103 on Saturday afternoon at
• Reports and match action on Channel TV online and on Monday
evening at 6.15pm; and on BBC Channel Islands on Monday evening at
The Greene King IPA Championship this weekend
A true collectors' item this weekend, with all 12 clubs playing
in the traditional Saturday afternoon slot. This is the only time
this will happen in 2013/14, other than the final Saturday of the
season in late April when all games must kick-off simultaneously.
3pm starts except where stated.
London Welsh v Plymouth (2.30)
Bedford v Leeds
Ealing v Pirates
Scots v Notts
Moseley v Rotherham
In this weekend's other games involving Jersey sides, the
newly-formed Jersey Athletic side travel for their first away match
in The Shield, taking on Blackheath on Saturday. On the same day a
JRA representative side made up of players from the Island's junior
clubs will travel to Guernsey for an inter-insular clash with the
Bristol's revival last Sunday came too late for one disgusted
punter, who had already let rip on the Bristol forum after defeat
to the Pirates at Sandy Park.
"That truly was appalling. No pace, no cutting edge, ball
retention non-existent, " he wrote. "What are we doing with that
Barfer in charge? He's finally finishing us off. My 8-year-old said
we'll be playing the Dings soon!! Total and utter crap!!"
I quote this not because I think this person is representative of
Bristol's support - clearly he is as mad as a box of frogs - but as
an excuse to publish the put-down that he received from another
poster soon afterwards.
"You have an eight-year-old child? I'm amazed you've reached
puberty," came the response. "Suspect your sister's been playing
away, my friend."
Enjoy your weekend's rugby
Why not get yourself a Hot Pot (Curry or Chilli served with rice) in the supporters marquee £8 per pot.