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News 2012-13

Preview to Jersey v Bedford

28/09/2012

I never felt more like singing the Blues
'Cos Paddy Power, says we can't lose
To Jer-sey
You've got me singing the Blues

Blues

A series of disappointing results has seen the all-conquering
Jersey side of recent seasons unkindly labelled as "winless Jersey"
in an official RFU communiqué this week. The tabloid wannabe - one
cruel label deserves another - hired by 'HQ' twisted the knife
further by describing Jersey as having "the worst defence" in the
Championship, before uttering a Homer Simpson-style 'D'OH!' when
they realised that a certain Richmond-based team had conceded more
points, and more tries, than any other

The stats at this early stage aren't massively significant, but
the tough first month at Championship level has shown the extent of
the upward leap Jersey have made this season. But they are learning
fast and refused to be bullied, away from home, by a formidable
Rotherham side last Saturday. And if inaccurate information coming
out of Twickenham serves to reinforce a siege mentality, and harden
the team's resolve, then Jersey supporters will end up grateful for
the assist.

Bedford will arrive in good heart, as one of only two unbeaten
teams in the division, lying just two points behind Newcastle, and
no doubt relishing the opportunity to have a crack at the leaders
on their home patch at the start of November.

The Blues started the season by giving Moseley a 50-6 hiding at
Goldington Road, and then looked set for another 'W' at Rotherham's
Clifton Lane ground until they were pegged back to 38-38, a rare
3-3 draw in league points. Another half-century of points by the
division's leading scorers - that stat has been audited - helped
account for London Scottish, and last Saturday saw another home
win, a skin-of-the-teeth affair against Nottingham sealed deep into
added time.

So Mr P. Power, who has been bravely offering odds on
Championship games this season, will no doubt have the visitors
down as clear favourites for the day, especially in the light of
what looks like a decent weather forecast. Jersey's bid to beat the
bookie and confound the formbook starts at 3 o'clock sharp.

News from the Jersey camp
Ben Harvey has announced his Jersey squad: perhaps the biggest
surprises see two lynchpins of last season's side, Donovan Sanders
and Guy Thompson, relegated to the bench.

Sanders is replaced by Mike Le Bourgeois at centre, with Ross
Broadfoot returning to the fly-half position. Ed Dawson starts on
the wing in place of Glenn Bryce.

In the forwards, seven of the starting pack against Rotherham
last weekend will appear again, with Thompson's number 7 shirt
going to Kingsley Lang, an impactful substitute at Clifton
Lane.

Paul

Jersey's bench includes two players back from injury: scrum-half
Nicky Griffiths after a quicker-than-expected recovery from the
blow he sustained against Moseley two weeks ago, and former captain
Paul Rodgers - the Kiwi lock/ back row man (above) has been out for
almost a year with a knee ligament injury.

Jersey squad, sponsored by Locate Jersey and
jersey.com

1 Richard Barrington
2 Steve Boden
3 Ben Evans
4 Nathan Hannay (capt)
5 Rob Anderson
6 Talite Vaoileti
7 Kingsley Lang
8 Fred Silcock
9 Dave McCormack
10 Ross Broadfoot
11 Ed Dawson
12 Dai Bishop
13 Mike Le Bourgeois
14 Ed Tellwright
15 Barry Davies

Replacements
James Gethings
Sean McCarthy
Paul Rodgers
Guy Thompson
Nicky Griffiths
Donovan Sanders
Ashley Maggs

Bedford in 2012/13
As the longest-standing club at Championship level, it's hardly
surprising that Bedford have more continuity among their playing
ranks than any other team. By my reckoning half of this weekend's
starting XV have been with the club for at least five seasons
including the current one.

Captain James Pritchard first joined the club in 2001 and has
been there almost ever since, other than brief spells at Plymouth,
Northampton and Perpignan. The 33-year-old may be the most
prodigious National League points-scorer of all time, with
something in excess of 2,500 points in the English club game, 90%
of them achieved in Bedford colours. Born in Australia, Pritchard
qualified for Canada through his grandfather from Saskatchewan and
has gained 45 caps, including three World Cups, amassing 445
points.

Irish centre Brendan Burke is a former Leinster man who joined
the Blues in 2007, and on the opposite wing to Pritchard will be
promising youngster Josh Basset, 19, a graduate of the Blues
Academy who signed a senior contract in summer 2011 and has also
represented England at Under 20 level.

The half-backs are both new recruits: Mark Atkinson from Esher
will play outside Luke Baldwin, who is on loan from Saracens.
Sarries also provide two dual-registered players in full-back Ben
Ransom and replacement hooker Scott Spurling.

Toops

In the Bedford pack Jersey will encounter flanker Sacha Harding,
a veteran of nine years' service at Goldington Road, and a new
recruit in the shape of lock Ben Gulliver, signed from Worcester.
Number 8 Paul Tupai (above) is 38 years young, won five caps for
Samoa in 2005 and is one of the few Championship players older than
Jersey's Ben Evans (Moseley Forwards Coach Dave Hilton, 42, trumped
them both last weekend with a cameo off the bench against Plymouth,
but is not in regular active service).

From the bench for Blues, watch out for ex-Northampton man Alex
Rae, a 'back-five' forward who captained the side this time last
year when Pritchard was at the World Cup. Alongside him is the
combative Darren Fox, who had something of a barney with Jersey's
Nathan Hannay last November while playing for Cambridge,
culminating in the Jersey player receiving a red card for an
intended, tho' somewhat ineffectual head-butt.

Blues
Backs (15-9)
Ben Ransom
Josh Bassett
Brendan Burke
Henry Staff
James Pritchard (c)
Mark Atkinson
Luke Baldwin

Forwards (8-1)
Paul Tupai
Sacha Harding
Gregor Gillanders
Ben Gulliver
Mike Howard
Phil Boulton
Neil Cochrane
Ricky Reeves

Replacements (16-22)
Scott Spurling
Ben Cooper
Alex Rae
Darren Fox
Darryl Veenendaal
Ian Vass
Mark Kohler

History of Bedford RUFC
A few years after their separate foundations, Bedford Rovers and
Bedford Swifts joined forces in 1886 to form Bedford RUFC. Close
links between the club and two local schools - Bedford and Bedford
Modern - led to the choice the dark and light blue strip,
reflecting further links between the schools and the Oxbridge
universities. This colour scheme exists to this day in both the
home and away kits worn by the team, who are nicknamed the Blues,
just to keep things tidy.

The club played at Goldington Road virtually from the outset,
hosting some of the leading teams of the era. In 1893/94 they lost
just one game out of 29 and in 1905 hosted the All Blacks - a 41-0
defeat was little disgrace given that the visitors lost just one
match of a lengthy tour.

Fast-forwarding a few years, as one has to given limited space
and time, and Bedford were a pre-eminent name in English rugby in
the 1960s thanks to the likes of national captains Budge Rogers and
David Perry. They won the Sunday Telegraph English-Welsh Rugby
Table in 1969/70 and were led by Rogers to an 18-12 victory over
Rosslyn Park in the 1975 John Player Cup Final at Twickenham.

When the league era began in 1987 Bedford were at level two, and
the club has spent 21 of the ensuing 26 seasons at this level. The
exceptions were a one-season foray into Courage Division One in
1989/90, two years below stairs at level three in the mid-90s, and
then two years back at the top-flight, then named the Allied Dunbar
Premiership, from 1998-2000. Readers of recent previews may recall
two promotion play-offs with Rotherham during this time, the first
won on try count-back after a 38-38 draw (again!) and the second
lost 34-40 and resulting in relegation.

Like many clubs, Bedford have weathered the peaks and troughs of
the professional era. In 1996/97 boxing promoter Frank Warren and
the company Sports Network invested in the club and helped secure
some major signings and promotion to the Premiership. However the
club's sale in 1999 to Jefferson Lloyd International was
financially catastrophic and at one stage looked likely to involve
another sale and the club moving out of Bedford.

Following intervention by the RFU in October 1999 a consortium
of Bedford businessmen headed by David Ledsom (SDC), Geoff Irvine
(Irvine-Whitlock) and David Gunner with assistance from Bedford
Borough Council and other professional people, the transfer of the
club to Bedford Blues Ltd. was organised.

Several thousand supporters and businesses in the town bought
shares and the club is now a thriving one that is a fine example
for sustainability in the tough environment of Championship
rugby.

Geoff Irvine remains a central figure as Chairman, and holds the
same role in the umbrella organisation for Championship clubs in
their dealings with the RFU win which, so he assures us, there's
rarely a dull moment.

Director of Rugby Mike Rayer, 47, is in his eighth season in
charge - on the playing side - at Goldington Road. He won 21 caps
at full-back for Wales in the early 90s, scoring four tries
including a brace as a replacement against Scotland in 1994, and
played two seasons for Bedford between 1996 and 1998. A dubious
source claims that his name is slang for an all-day drinking
session, as in 'I'm going for a Mike Rayer' - JRFC lawyers asked me
to stress that this is due to rhyming reasons rather than anything
else.

Blues are now starting their 13th straight season at level two,
making them the 'Fathers' of this league. Notable seasons since
then:

* 2005/06: runners-up in the days before play-offs
* 2009/10: finished fourth, then second in relegation pool A, then
beaten by Exeter in the one-leg semi-final at Sandy Park
* 2010/11: runners-up in the regular season, second in pool B,
then lost 22-23 to Worcester courtesy of a late try by Kai
Horstman, converted by Joe Carlisle
* 2011/12: second again after 'normal time', then the winners of
pool B, and a two-legged semi (which sounds like something from the
Karma Sutra) against London Welsh, lost by the agonising margin of
27-30.

The Blues, the Red Rose and other
internationals

Many Bedford players have won international honours. Selected caps
include:

* England: as well as the aforementioned skippers Rogers and
Perry, and their 1960s contemporaries Geoff Frankcom and Danny
Hearn, take your pick from Martin Bayfield, Andy Gomarsall, Jeff
Probyn and Rory Underwood. Martin 'Chariots' Offiah never played
union for England, but the GB league man did represent Bedford in
1997/98
* South Africa: Rudi Straeuli, World Cup winner in 1975
* Wales: Mike Rayer and Paul Turner (also known - in Jersey at
least - as Tommy's Dad)
* Scotland: Scott Murray and Billy Steele
* Tonga: Soane Tonga'uiha
* Canada: Gareth Rees and James Pritchard
* Ben Alexander and Alistair Murdoch

Coming to St Peter
Tickets for the match are £15 for adults, £10 for Jersey members
on production of a membership card, £3 for juniors (13 to 16
inclusive) and free to those aged 12 and under. These will be on
sale at the club shop between 10am and 1pm on Friday. Later on
Friday, the Barclays Pavilion will be open for an eve-of-match
reception open to all supporters, with the chance to have a pint,
enjoy some free nibbles and pick up your tickets. Tickets will then
be on sale on the gate from 12noon on Saturday.

 DSC03816

Get down at once! And take that football shirt off!

If weather conditions permit we hope to be able to allow kids to
come onto the pitch, at half-time only. Please listen for
announcements. But woe betide anyone who climbs trees - that is
strictly forbidden.

Supporters are reminded that no food or drink may be brought
into the ground, and also that admittance to the clubhouse will be
restricted immediately after the game to members and those sponsors
and visiting supporters with the appropriate wristbands. This is a
necessary measure to enable the club to keep within the capacity
imposed by the Fire Service.

Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v
Bedford 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, including an interview with Bedford
Chairman Geoff Irvine, and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby
forum
• Match report on Channel 103 soon after the final whistle on
Saturday, plus updates during the match
• Reports and match action on Channel TV online and on Monday
evening at 6.15pm; and on BBC Channel Islands on Monday evening at
6.30pm

The Championship this 'weekend' - a.k.a. that Friday
feeling

Friday - Bristol v Moseley; Doncaster v Pirates; Newcastle v
Leeds; Nottingham v London Scottish; Plymouth v Rotherham
Saturday - Jersey v Bedford
Sunday - n/a

And Finally
It would be remiss not to mention the long-standing links between
Victoria College in Jersey and Bedford School, which started on
October 31st 1940, when 34 College boys took up places at the
school after being evacuated from Nazi-occupied Jersey. In all,
some 50 Victorians passed through the School. College boys took a
full part in many school activities but retained their old school
identity by wearing separate school caps, and having a separate
Head Boy appointed for the Victorians. The last one was Michael
Thorn. A collection was organised to pay for an oak panel suitably
inscribed to be erected at the entrance of the Great Hall. The
original was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1979, but a replica now
hangs outside the Headmaster's study at Bedford.

A sports exchange has existed between the two schools since
1980. Each year, boys from Year 6 take part in an exchange with
Victoria College visiting Bedford, normally in November and Bedford
returning to St Helier in the Spring or Summer term.

And it would be equally remiss not to mention JRFC stalwart
Keith Goddard, who died this month and was a committee member
of Jersey Rugby Club's Limited Company, the parent/ guardian body
who watch over the club. Keith worked tirelessly for many years and
his efforts will be sadly missed. A minute's silence will take
place in his honour before the game.

Lastly, it's a quiet weekend for local rugby in Jersey, but good
luck to the Colts squad who start their Hampshire league campaign
away to Portsmouth on Sunday. Selected players from the squad will
be receiving their team shirts from new sponsor Ogier during
half-time of the Jersey v Bedford game.

Enjoy your weekend's rugby
Tom Innes

 

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