Budget Special: absent friends, lots of Hunters and extra
training for the Under 7s
A fortnight is a long time in rugby... certainly if you've been
looking to get a particularly bad day at the 'office' out of your
system. After losing out on March 10th to the Dogs of Barking,
thanks to that last-minute try, the Jersey squad will be
straining at the leash to get back on the pitch. Even the under 7s
were called in for extra training on Thursday...
This is the start of the home stretch of the National One
campaign, with five matches in six weekends [four clubs also have
Easter fixtures] rounding off the season, and a thrilling climax
looking likely at the top end with Ealing, Fylde and Jersey meeting
each other over the last two Saturdays, and many Nat1 clubs still
having the chance to influence the title race in some way.
Cambridge travel to Jersey after a season of twists and turns
that might remind readers of a plot cooked up by one of their most
renowned supporters, Jeffrey Archer. His Lordship is apparently not
making the trip, joining Wharfedale President John Spencer and
Cinderford Coaching Consultant Phil Vickery on the list of famous
people who almost made it to Jersey this season, until they had a
The home side, in contrast, looked set fair until they were
turned over by Barking 22-20, the exact same score by which the
Dogs tore apart Ealing's unbeaten record at the end of October.
With a decent weather forecast, there looks likely to be another
sizeable crowd at St Peter in time for kick-off - 3pm. Supporters
are urged to arrive in good time.
News from the Jersey camp
DoR Ben Harvey has celebrated Budget Week by having news of
positive equity on the injury front in his red box. A total of four
stricken warriors (with their 'last-played' dates) are due back -
loosehead prop Dai Maddocks (Jan 14), lock and lineout professor
Jim Brownrigg (Feb 18), flanker and co-top try-scorer Guy Thompson
(Jan 21) and centre Dai Bishop (Jan 7). The last-named joins Mike
Le Bourgeois as the back cover on Jersey's bench, with the starting
Maddocks makes only his second start of the season after
prop-groundsman Myles Landick was ruled out following a training
injury, the full extent of which is not yet known. Brownrigg is
likely to replace Toby Clyde-Smith, who sits next to his brother
Charlie and James Gethings on the bench, while Thompson takes Steve
O'Brien's back-row berth.
Jersey's lead at the top of National One has shrunk to four
points, which some observers would have you believe was down to
lack of bonus points. It's true that the four-try bonus has 'only'
been achieved 13 times in 25 games, but the three losing BPs are
more easily explained, in that only four losses mean only four
chances (three of them taken) to get a losing bonus.
Whatever the bonus point calculations, you don't need to be
Inspector Morse to deduce that this is a game that the home side
will be looking to win well.
November 12th 2011. Cambridge (13) 13 Jersey (21) 54
"A stunning second-half display by Jersey brought the
Islanders 33 unanswered points and sealed an emphatic victory over
the team who lay third in the National One table before
The second-half display was all the more remarkable in that
Jersey played with 14 men after the dismissal late in the first
period for Nathan Hannay for an alleged head-butt in an incident
that also saw Cambridge No 8 Darren Fox given a yellow-card for
Guy Thompson gave the visitors an early lead, supplemented
by a Mike Le Bourgeois penalty, but Anders Morgensen's try,
converted by Tom Wheatcroft, made it 7-8. The kickers swapped
penalties and in the 23rd minute Dave McCormack shrugged off three
tackles to score. A drop-goal by Le Bourgeois and another
Wheatcroft penalty completed the scoring to make it 21-13 to Jersey
at the break.
For the second week running Guy Thompson scored two tries
within the first 10 minutes of the restart, completing a stunning
hat-trick and pushing Jersey out of sight. After a lull there was a
further burst of three tries in the last 16 minutes. Ed Dawson was
first over, then Myles Landick celebrated his second try for Jersey
- the first in the Championship semi-final against Taunton 18
months ago - and finally Le Bourgeois crossed to complete a
personal haul of 24 points.
After the game Landick praised the outstanding defensive
effort which had underpinned the victory, while Head Coach [since
promoted] Ben Harvey described it as the best performance by Jersey
away from home in the three years he had been involved. Jersey move
above Cambridge and take fifth spot in the table, with 38 points,
as a result of the win."
Cambridge in 2011/12
The 'Blood and Sand' (team colours and nickname) failed to reach
top gear when National One kicked off, resulting in a convincing
39-24 home defeat by Sedgley Park and a 31-6 drubbing at Blaydon.
The situation turned around with narrow successes against Barking,
Rosslyn Park and Tynedale before Macclesfield edged a 67-point
thriller at Volac Park (home of CRUFC) by a single kick.
Cambridge then registered four successive wins, including a
49-29 thumping of Fylde and a 29-27 success away at Cov, prior to a
32-21 defeat at Ealing.
When Cambridge hosted Jersey, the 12th of November looked
glorious from the home side's point-of-view: third in the league,
with just four games out of 11 lost, including a modest nine-point
margin against runaway leaders Ealing the week before.
Defeat by Jersey - as crowed about earlier - signalled the start
of a mixed spell, although December and January included two wins
that might prove crucial - 22-20 at Barking before Christmas, and
23-21 at home to Tynedale four weeks later.
Crucial? Potentially, yes, after the club announced in late
January that a further outbreak of financial woe left them unable
to pay players after January 31. This led to a fair amount of
disquiet, and some departures - including the combative Mr Fox and
prop Benjamin Cooper to Bedford, centre Toby Berridge to Donny, and
Tom Wheatcroft (full-back) and Tom Fidler (hooker) to Ealing.
Director of Rugby Bob Crooks also took his leave, and the
coaching void has been filled by scrum-half Danny Hunter, while
former player Glen Remnant returned to Volac as Team Manager. The
Kiwi Remnant spent three seasons at Cambridge when the club were
soaring up the league in the mid-noughties, before moving to
Launceston and then Shelford - he came to St Peter as a coach with
Shelford last April, when the Blood & Sand's local rivals gave
Jersey an almighty fright before the Islanders squeezed through
25-20 in their final regular season league match.
Some departees waited until the very end of January, delivering
another telling win, 35-27 over Cov, before they left. A four-game
losing streak brings us up-to-date, although amazingly this has
included try bonus points against Blackheath, Fylde and Ealing.
The Ealing game was another page-turner. In a nutshell:
* 1st quarter, Cambridge lead 24-5
* Half-time, Cambridge lead pegged to 27-20
* Around the hour, 37-26, still a bit of daylight
* 74 minutes, the score's 37-33, can they hold on?
* Final whistle, not quite - four converted tries to Trailfinders
make it 37-63.
The points-fest is an extreme encapsulation of the Blood &
Sand's season, with a points aggregate of 1,480 way ahead of anyone
else (Fylde 1,352). It's like a whole season of Barbarians-style
scores, if still a few tries short of the Super 15. A total points
tally of below 50 looks unlikely.
The likely squad will be much varied from the match with Jersey
in November. Survivors include the half-back pairing of Hunter and
Elliot Bale, hooker Ben Hunter and back-row man Gareth McComb, plus
a few coming off the bench. There are so many Hunters that Jersey
may feel like marked men - Danny and Ben are joined by brother Sam
on the bench. Gas on the outside comes from winger Patrick Tapley
and full-back De La Ray Veenendaal - both of whom scored against
With 57 points, Cambridge should be back for another season in
National One in 2012/13, barring an amazing late run from the Bees,
who are currently 15 points behind them.
A brief history of the Blood and Sand
Cambridge RUFC was formed in 1923 and was settled in its current
ground by the 1950s. In 1993 the Club was fortunate to be offered
the opportunity to buy the lease on its existing three pitches and
to buy adjoining land for a further three pitches from King's
College. Floodlights were added to one of these pitches in
Cambridge joined the newly formed league structure in 1988 and
by 1991 were playing in London 3 North East Division, rising by the
end of the 1998/99 season to London 1, which feeds into the
National Leagues. Relegation two years later was a set-back, but
the Blood and Sand then achieved three successive promotions,
rising from Levels Six to Three by the summer of 2006.
Subsequently it's been a more stable picture, with finishes of
9th, 6th, 2nd,(edged out of top-spot and promotion by Birmingham
Bees by 111 points to 108) 4th and 3rd in the current league.
In 2005 a brand new clubhouse rise above the old to accommodate
the club's growing support and rising sponsorship; two years on and
a 200 seat grandstand was added to the front of the clubhouse.
The early part of last season was dominated by financial matters
when the club was issued with a winding-up order by the Inland
Revenue over unpaid tax, and only a heroic response by members and
supporters, raising £170,000, staved off disaster. At the same time
a decision was made to return to being a community club, rather
than one with only a 1st XV.
• In 2010/11 Cambridge scored the most tries in National One (143)
and had three players - Billy Robinson (18), Darren Fox (16) and
Jaco du Toit (15) in the division's top 15 try-scorers
• Famous former players include the England internationals Dickie
Jeeps (24 caps plus 13 for the British Lions) and Andy Hancock (3
caps including a very famous try - see Youtube!), Trefor Evans (10
caps for Wales and one for the Lions) and more recently Alex Goode
now of Saracens
• Forwards coach for Cambridge is the former England hooker Andy
Long, who made his debut in Clive Woodward's first match in charge
against Australia in 1997 but won just a single additional cap,
against USA four year later. The 34-year-old Long continues to ply
his trade in the Premiership for Northampton Saints; just last
weekend there was speculation that his appearance in the LV Cup
Final might be his last in a Saints' jersey, with Dylan Hartley
back after the Six Nations. Hartley has since been fingered by the
citing commissioner, so maybe not?
• The home defeat by Sedgley Park in August gave some measure of
revenge to the Lancastrians after a 78-23 annihilation in the last
game of 2010/11 at Volac Park
• There is an annual midweek 'Town v Gown' match against Cambridge
University, won this season by the Students by 28-21
• This season's average crowd at Volac Park is 434
Ealing (four points behind Jersey) were Cambridge's last
opponents, see above. This weekend they host Tynedale, Jersey's
next opponents. Students of the fixture list will know Ealing
usually seem to play our next opponents. After that it's: Macc (a);
Cov (h), Fylde (a) and Bees (h). At peak form you'd expect
Trailfinders to win all of those (except possibly the one near
Fylde had a bad first half at Cov and their recovery earned only
a try BP and left them eight points off the lead. Another loss
might well signal the end of their tilt at the title, and this
weekend they have the tough prospect of Rosslyn Park away. The rest
of the run-in is: Bees (h); Blackheath (a), Ealing (h) and Jersey
Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v
Cambridge through the following channels:
• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey's 'Sportscene' from 6- 7pm on
Friday, and live commentary on Saturday afternoon (available online
and on your transistor-wireless device
• Preview in Friday's JEP, more rugby in Saturday's
Inside Centre pull-out, and full match coverage on
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby
• Match report on Channel 103 soon after the final whistle on
• Highlights on Channel TV at 6.15pm on Monday, and online
This Sunday, not only do the clocks change, but it's the VerrasLaw
JRA League Semi Finals at St Peter: Jersey II v Guernsey II at
12.30 and LQ Lydian Lions v Banks at 2.30.
In November research was carried out 'proving' that the two
clubs had never met before. This proof didn't last long, and we are
reliably informed that Cambridge did visit Jersey in the late 60s.
The age-old principle of Tour Rules prevents me saying any
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.