Back to the back-yard of the former backs
You don't need to have a long chat with Harvey Biljon to realise
that he's not a native of either Cornwall (aaaargghhhhh!) or Jersey
(flett vowels ma' luv?). But there'll nevertheless be something of
a homecoming for the South African this weekend.
Harvey completes his second month since arriving for his new job
in Jersey with a trip back to the Mennaye Field in Penzance; not
only is it the place where he spent four-and-a-half years on the
coaching staff, but it's the home-town of his wife, who was still
living in the Pirates' back yard until she and the couple's two
Cornish-born piratiños made the move to Jersey a week ago.
A popular figure during his stint in the south-west, Harvey will
be assured of a warm welcome, although that doesn't mean the host
club won't be mustard-keen to get the better of his new club on the
pitch. Not only do Pirates have a league defeat at St Peter to
avenge, and a cruel last-minute one at that, but they will be keen
to assert their credentials as a top-half team, rather than a
The play-offs look a distant dream for sixth-placed Pirates, and
even London Scottish in fifth are battling to keep in touch. But
surely Director of Rugby Ian Davies isn't expecting anyone to fall
for his claim that Pirates' main priority over the remainder of the
season is the British & Irish Cup?
True, Pirates have a fine B&I record, and a realistic chance
of silverware in this season's competition, but it might be a
stretch to think that they're likely to be playing down league
fixtures, especially those in front of their passionate home
Seeing Ealing having a visit from play-off contenders London Welsh
this weekend, Jersey will be looking for a road win to pull away
from the bottom side and potentially narrow the gap on 10th-placed
News from the Jersey camp
Jersey's team will be confirmed late morning on Friday (see HERE),
but it looks likely that fly-half Aaron Penberthy (below) will
return to the Jersey line-up against his old club, one of a number
of ex-Pirates set to be involved - Drew Locke, Grant Pointer, Ben
Maidment, Nicky Griffiths and Joe Buckle are the others.
Any previous? A nap hand
Jersey 6 Pirates 20, Sept 2012 - match report HERE
Pirates 28 Jersey 24, Apr 2013 - match report HERE
Jersey 27 Pirates 25, Nov 2013, (pictured above by Sue
Trower) - for the second time this season, Jersey conceded
three tries at St Peter within approximately 20 minutes. As against
Bristol, the Islanders fought back, this time to greater effect.
Trailing 10-19 at the break, Jersey scored a try on the hour
through Mark McCrea and then another by Tom Brown with four minutes
to go making it 22-25. Niall O'Connor added a superb conversion,
and then a penalty with the last kick to win it. Match report is HERE
Cornish Pirates 31 Jersey 20 (B&I Cup), December 2013 - match
Jersey 0 Cornish Pirates 24 (B&I Cup), December 2013 - match
The Pirates turned a potential 1-4 match points defeat at Jersey's
hands into a 5-0 win thanks to two late converted tries at the
Mennaye. The return leg at St Peter was not as close - the Cornish
scored four tries between the 26th and 51st minutes and end Jersey
hopes of progressing in the B&I
Pirates in 2013/14
The Pirates began the season in style, beating promotion
favourites Bristol in the opening weekend double header game at
Sandy Park in Exeter. It's been a somewhat frustrating league
campaign since then, with Ian Davies' men unable to string together
more than two successive league wins and registering draws against
Nottingham (A) and Ealing (H) in contests they'd feel they should
have won (but might have lost).
Pirates haven't won a league match in four attempts since Boxing
Day, when a gritty 10-3 triumph was registered in the SW derby
against Plymouth Albion.
A feature of the season has been an inability to keep hold of
leads: four of the six league defeats thus far have come after
Pirates held a half-time lead, including the game in Jersey.
As mentioned, the Pirates have a good record in the B&I Cup
and five straight wins earned a quarter-final spot, and defeat in
Belfast in round 6 didn't stop this tie being at home. Pontypridd
are the visitors in early April for what should be a cracking rugby
occasion between two hotbeds of rugby, with the winners knowing
they have a home semi-final to look forward to four weeks
Old Harvey, (pic by Brian Tempest)
Scrum-half Tom Kessell is the Pirates' top try-scorer in the
league this season, with eight so far. The home backs, coached for
the first half of the season by H.Biljon esq, are a potent force
this season and have scored more than three-quarters of their
team's tries, the highest backs/forwards ratio in the
Kieran Hallett has kicked 91 points this season, including 21
penalties at an impressive strike rate of 80 per cent. One other
stat of note is that of home league gates: Jersey rank fourth with
a 2,053 average crowd, Pirates are fifth with 1,804 and Plymouth
Albion a single spectator (or two medium dogs) behind on
History of the Pirates
The early days of rugby in West Cornwall saw Penzance and Newlyn
as rival clubs who waged some feisty battles on the pitch to
determine local bragging rights. Penzance, formed in 1876 and
Newlyn, who started in 1894, actually stopped playing each other
from 1929-32 because of public order concerns.
However the entente became rather more cordiale towards the end of
the 1930s and in 1945 the clubs merged, playing their first game
against Guy's Hospital on September 22nd of that year. The 1950s
was a golden era, with crowds of 5,000 or more not uncommon, and
two P&N players, John Kendall Carpenter and John 'Ginger'
Williams being capped for England in the 1951 Calcutta Cup.
In 1969 the legendary prop Brian 'Stack' Stevens made his England
debut, going on to earn 25 caps including a try in the incredible
away win in New Zealand in 1973. Stack's son John is a member of
the Pirates' squad and after being an unused substitute in Jersey
in November he made his debut the following weekend against
The Pirates (the nickname was upgraded to a proper name in 2005)
have continued to have a sprinkling of internationals, although in
recent years it's been a more cosmopolitan affair, including Victor
Olonga (Zimbabwe), Villi Ma'asi (Tonga), Heino Senekal (Namibia)
and Stan McKeen (Canada). Hooker Rob Elloway, was twice capped for
Germany, the land of his birth, in 2009-10.
When league rugby began in 1987/88 the Pirates (P&N) were in
the Cornwall and Devon League, but the club had a steady run of
success culminating in their arrival at level two in 2003. So far,
that's as high as they have reached, although there remain great
ambitions to emulate Devon neighbours Exeter and establish a
Cornish presence at the top level of the English game.
Building a stadium is a key factor in the Pirates top-level
ambitions, and after a long campaign the Stadium for Cornwall in
Truro was granted planning permission last April. There's still a
long way to go, but it is hoped that the green light from planning
authorities may help the club clear the major financial and other
hurdles which remain.
Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Pirates
v Jersey through the following channels:
• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey on Friday from 5.30pm, and live
commentary on Sunday afternoon (available online and on your
• Preview in Friday's JEP, more coverage in Saturday's paper (on
sale from 7am) and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby
• Match preview on Channel 103 on Saturday afternoon
• 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
Round 17 kicks off at Brickfields, where the home side will be
looking to recover from a sizeable defeat at Bristol last weekend.
Visitors Nottingham will be keen to get points on the board ahead
of a tricky March schedule during which the Green-and-Whites take
on Rotherham and Leeds at home and travel to Cornwall, while the
teams beneath them have games in hand.
Moseley host Bedford on Saturday in a game that's hard to call,
while Ealing's attempts to break their home duck will face some
stern opposition as London Welsh come to Vallis Way.
The Sky cameras make their first trip to Clifton Lane on Saturday;
Roth supporters have been pointing out, with some justification,
the slight of not having been chosen for a TV game this year, and
will now hope to deliver against fellow play-off contenders in
front of a national audience. Bristol will just want to keep up the
momentum after achieving four wins in February and scoring 24
Leeds play London Scottish on Sunday with the Exiles needing to
upset their hosts in order to revive their flagging play-off
Friday February 28
Plymouth Albion v Nottingham,19:45
Saturday March 1
Moseley v Bedford Blues 15:00
Ealing v London Welsh, 15:00
Rotherham Titans v Bristol Rugby, 16:45 (Live on Sky Sports
Sunday March 2
Leeds v London Scottish, 15:00
While the forecast isn't too bad in Cornwall, it looks like
another wet one back home. All being well there'll be three games
on the Island this weekend - Jersey Athletic against Chinnor at St
Peter at noon on Saturday, LQ Lydian Lions against St Jacques at
11.30am (at LQ) on Saturday, and then Banks Ladies against
Bracknell on Sunday at Grainville (k-o 12noon). Jersey Colts have
an away game at Winchester on Sunday.
Bill's in there somewhere (pic by Sue Armes)
There'll be some happy memories in the Duchy of Cornwall this
weekend in the shape of Bill Beaumont, the RFU Chairman who last
encountered Jersey when he presented the National One trophy at St
Peter in April 2012, after the game against his old club Fylde, and
was soaked in champagne for his troubles. Bill will be guest of
honour at an eve-of-match dinner at the Mennaye, and one hopes his
busy schedule will allow him to stick around to watch more Jersey
celebrations on Sunday.
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.