J Lo, swing low, and half-way to the moon
One way or t'other, Leeds Carnegie will be making their
last-ever visit to Jersey this weekend. It's not that the visitors
are odds-on for promotion (and yes, we know Jersey aren't sure of
their Championship place either), but by the time next season
starts they will have a new name, Yorkshire Carnegie.
The move, announced a month ago by Executive Chairman Sir Ian
McGeechan, will end 22 years' use of the Leeds name, dating back to
1992 when local clubs Headingley (Geech's old team) and Roundhay
Sustainability is a word you hear a lot in Championship rugby
circles, with a general admission that under current levels of
income, fully professional clubs aren't viable. Many clubs are only
able to balance the books through the efforts of volunteers, or
thanks to the deep pockets of wealthy backers such as Steve
Lansdowne, the man who is bankrolling Bristol's Premiership push
and recently wrote off the debts of Bristol City Football Club - a
The Championship clubs, including Carnegie and Jersey, are
lobbying hard for increased funding from Twickenham. But Geech and
his colleagues are also seeking to broaden their appeal by creating
a county-wide team, capable of achieving promotion and holding
their own in the Prem.
Leeds supporters seem divided on the new move, and there has been
a predictable hue and cry, including accusations of arrogance, from
elsewhere in Yorkshire, and further afield. But few would disagree
that the current model isn't quite working, and therefore something
with a bit of vision is required. Chief Executive Gary Hetherington
has called it Yorkshire's last chance at creating a sustainable and
successful Premiership club.
It's possible that the Leeds name could have a grandstand last
hurrah and achieve promotion on June 4, although likely play-off
rivals Bristol, London Welsh and Rotherham will have something to
say about that. But Leeds are in good nick; having noted that
Bristol notched 24 tries in four game in February, it should be
pointed out that Leeds scored 23 during that time - in a game
Leeds may be on song, but their hosts will be hopeful of an upset,
having taken heart from emerging from a Cornish mudbath (as
modelled by our skipper, pictured below by Brian Tempest) -
the sort of thing they'd charge £195 for at a posh hotel 'n' spa in
St Ives - with a consolation bonus point, and genuine
disappointment at not achieving even more.
The visitors are travelling on the morning of the game and home
supporters - a large crowd is expected and the weather forecast is
decent - hope the visitors may have bumpy landings both before and
after the game kicks off at 3pm. The record of bottom six sides
against those in the top half (now seven wins in 50 contests)
suggests it's odds-against, but the Islanders will certainly be
giving it a crack.
News from the Jersey camp
Jersey's squad will be confirmed late on Friday morning. Look out
for new signing Ryan Hodson in the back-row. One likely absentee
however is Sam Lockwood, the loosehead prop on loan from Leeds
since late January. Lockwood is unavailable due to the terms of his
loan agreement. Scrum-half Nicky Griffiths (below, another
Brian Tempest shot from Penzance-under-Water) will hope to get
the chance to show his paces (and beautifully exfoliated skin,
thanks to the mud treatment) from the start.
Head-to-head in 2012 and 2013
September 2012 (league): Leeds 32 Jersey 19. Michael Le Bourgeois
claimed Jersey's first Championship try at Headingley, but this was
cancelled out by Josh Griffin, Jacob Rowan and Jamel Chisholm. Full
October 2012 (B&I): Leeds 27 Jersey 33. The first win of the
season for the Islanders in a cup match played at York RUFC. Guy
Thompson and Donovan Sanders got the tries, 'Booj' landed eight
kicks at goal. The report's HERE
December 2012 (league): Jersey 20 Leeds 17. A muddy old day in
which 'Doc' Doherty somehow managed to score two excellent running
tries but was outdone by the hosts, who scored through a penalty
try and another by Max Stelling. See MATCH REPORT
January 2013 (B&I): Jersey 12 Leeds 27. The home side were
never at the races in this dead cup rubber, trailing 0-22 at the
break but at least fighting back to achieve some respectability.
Full report HERE
November 2013 (league): Leeds 29 Jersey 13. The home side were
just moving into their stride, but even so Jersey had hopes of a
useful bonus point until Carnegie scored twice in the dying
moments, although they fell a try short of their own BP. 'Doc',
Jacob Rowan, Josh Griffin and Jersey's Drew Locke were the day's
try-scorers. Report & pics HERE
A couple of Jersey old boys who have been confirmed in the Leeds'
squad this weekend.
Nathan Hannay (above) joined Leeds
last summer, although it was mid-winter when the giant Halifax-born
lock was first linked with Carnegie, prompting an unsettling end to
three seasons in Jersey.
After signing for the Islanders in the summer of 2010, Hannay made
more than 50 appearances. He missed almost six months of his first
season through injury but returned to help Jersey to National Two
play-off success, scoring two tries in the 30-5 victory over
Hannay played 26 games in 2011/12 as Jersey claimed the National
One title, and also won three Siam Cup caps. He captained the team
during the first half of last season, and was also selected for the
representative RFU Championship XV who faced the Maori All Blacks
in November 2012.
Yorkshireman David Doherty began his career with
Leeds in 2004 before moving on to Sale and Wasps. He spent seven
months on the Island in 2010/11, making 19 appearances and scoring
19 tries. His last touch of the ball in a red shirt was the final
try against Loughborough in the National Two play-off, before
moving to Cornish Pirates in summer 2011.
'Doc' transferred to Leeds in summer 2012 and last season he
played 21 Championship games, scoring 13 tries.
Leeds in 2013/14
Having ended last season with play-off defeat by eventual
champions Newcastle, Carnegie faced another top-four side,
Nottingham, on the opening (double-header) day of the season, and
were disappointed to go down 24-16 at Castle Park, Doncaster. It
remains to be seen how significant the outcome of the 23rd game
proves for both sides.
The team had a new Head Coach in James Lowes (pictured below,
they call him J Lo of course), a former rugby league player
with Hunslet, Leeds and Bradford who was promoted from an assistant
role when former HC Diccon Edwards resigned in June.
Nathan Hannay was among a clutch of signings that also included
fly-half Glynn Hughes from Moseley and the permanent capture of
prop James Currie, who joined on loan from Worcester last season.
Leeds are led by Jacob Rowan for the second season - the
24-year-old is still one of the division's youngest skippers.
The team found their form on the road with consecutive wins on the
road against the Pirates (20-27) and Bedford (28-29). The match
against Ealing at Headingley on October 4th was the latest home
start to a league season in Leeds' history, and they celebrated
with nine tries in a 64-3 thumping of the newly-promoted
Another away win in the league at Moseley (18-27) was followed by
a chance to test themselves against the unbeaten league leaders.
Carnegie performed creditably against London Welsh but eventually
went down 24-31. This was followed by a hard-fought home win over
Rotherham (19-10), a defeat at London Scottish (26-15) the result
of the season so far at the Mem - a superb 22-28 win, and some
festive revenge alongside the leftover turkey at home to Nottingham
2014 began with a narrow squeak at Plymouth (14-15) before Welsh
did the double by winning 19-10 at the Kassam. Then the season hit
overdrive in February, with sound thrashings handed out to Bedford
(50-5), Ealing (11-46) and Moseley (62-5), and March started with a
somewhat more restrained 27-18 victory over London Scots.
The B&I Cup isn't a priority this year, but Leeds cantered
through the easiest of this season's pools along with Bristol. Each
beat the other once and their second-string sides were not tested
against Gala or Aberavon. Leeds are home to Plymouth in the
quarter-finals at the start of April.
Top try-scorers for Leeds with nine so far this season are wingers
'Doc' and Jonah Holmes. Fly-half Alex Lozowski, whose father Rob
won a lone cap for England in 1984, has kicked 110 points and
scored four tries, but will be leaving to go to the old man's
former club, Wasps, in the summer.
Carnegie have bolstered their squad considerably during the
season as they build towards the play-offs. Several signings are
likely to be on show, including former England Sevens player Rob
Vickerman, ex-Northampton and Worcester centre Jon Clarke, on-loan
Bath flanker David Sisi and the latest addition, fly-half Jonny
Bentley from Gloucester.
Leeds' average attendance so far this season is 2,286, a place
ahead of Jersey (2,051) and closing fast on Bedford (2,368) while
Bristol remain top of the pops (5,052).
Leeds Rugby Union: a historical cocktail
The history of Leeds Carnegie is a cocktail of different aged
components, matured separately before being combined during more
recent times and blended into a series of modern
Headingley Football Club were founded in 1878 and played games on
Cardigan Fields, site of the current ground. The club withstood a
lean spell for rugby in Yorkshire during the early part of the 20th
Century, and after the Great War, but in the 1930s was prospering
with excellent facilities, impressive results and representative
Two notable names from the 1960s were Ian McGeechan and John
Spencer. The latter was last encountered by Jersey in the club's
only previous trip to Yorkshire, when they played the Wharfedale
club of which he is now President last January, while McGeechan's
career has gone full circle and he is now back at Leeds as
In the 1980s Peter Winterbottom was the most notable Headingley
player of his era, winning 58 caps for England and seven for the
Lions. His father John, a member since 1950, also played a key role
in the history of Leeds, brokering the merger with Roundhay that
led to the formation of Leeds RUFC in 1992.
Roundhay were formed in 1924 and had a golden era in the 1950s
which included a first-ever appearance in the Yorkshire Cup Final.
The loss to the Royal Signals was finally avenged in 1975 when
England internationals Richard Cardus and Keith Smith helped
Roundhay defeat Headingley 20-16 in a replay which followed a
Merger discussions were initiated by John Winterbottom with a view
to forming a single, much larger club from Headingley, Roundhay and
Morley. Morley subsequently withdrew, but the merger was finalised
in July 1992 with the first game played two months later.
The new club climbed the leagues and appointed professionals Colin
Stephens (Youth Development Officer) and Phil Davies (Director of
Rugby) in 1995 and 1996, as well as moving to Headingley Stadium.
In 1998 the modern era truly arrived when rugby union in Leeds
became a brand, namely Leeds Tykes, in partnership with the city's
league brethren the Rhinos under the ownership of Leeds Rugby
Limited, and by September 2001 the Tykes had reached the
Premiership, then sponsored by Zurich.
The highlights of a five-season stint in the top flight were
finishing fifth in 2002/03, earning qualification for the Heineken
Cup, and lifting the Powergen Cup in 2005. But the cup success was
followed by relegation 12 months later, in spite of the presence of
star names like Justin Marshall and Gordon Bulloch in the
The most recent incarnation of the club saw Leeds Carnegie formed
in 2007 after the club returned to the Premiership and formed a
partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University, who acquired a 51%
share in the club. The Carnegie names came from the Scottish
entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie whose Carnegie
Trust funded the establishment of a PE teaching training college in
1933. Carnegie College is now the Carnegie Faculty of Sport and
Education within Leeds Metropolitan University.
Current England Coach Stuart Lancaster was involved with the club
for 16 years, serving as Director of Rugby before leaving in 2008
to join the England set-up. He was replaced by Andy Key, while
England flanker Neil Back became Head Coach. The yo-yo existence
continued with two seasons at the top level, attracting home crowds
of between 4,000 and 10,000, followed by relegation in 2011 and a
mid-table performance in 2011/12 (6th in the league, 3rd in
promotion pool B).
In May 2009 it was announced that the club was re-structuring with
former Wales and British Lion international Gareth Davies joining a
new board of Directors, and Leeds Rugby taking control of the club
In order to attract further financial support for the club, Leeds
Met returned its 51% stake in the club to Leeds Rugby and agreed a
revised strategic partnership arrangement, which includes
sponsorship. The name of the club remained as Leeds Carnegie
Davies, who is a former Chief Executive of Cardiff RFC and BBC
Wales Head of Sport, is the new Dean of the Carnegie Faculty of
Sport & Education at Leeds Met and he will represent the
university on a new board, which is headed up by Paul Caddick, the
property and construction entrepreneur and former Headingley lock,
Last season, Leeds launched a perfectly-timed run to the play-offs
by winning their last six games, and once there they made a fine
fist of supposedly unbeatable Newcastle, winning 24-19 at home but
losing the second leg 15-6 at Kingston Park.
Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v
Leeds through the following channels:
• Live BBC Radio Jersey commentary on Saturday afternoon
(available online and on your transistor-wireless device).
• Preview in Friday's JEP, the Inside Centre pull-out on Saturday
(on sale from 7am) and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby
• 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
The only other game on Saturday sees Bedford host Plymouth, with
the hosts trying to cut down the six-point gap between themselves
and Albion, who have 32 points, equal with Moseley.
The chance to keep supporters on site for some post-match imbibing
while England swing low against Wales means four games take place
on Sunday with early afternoon KOs. Two of these games are within a
short stroll of Twickers - London Scottish against Ealing, and a
one-off return to Old Deer Park for London Welsh, who host Moseley.
Rotherham make the trip down the M1 to play Nottingham, who still
need one more win to shake off the threat of relegation, while
injury-hit Cornish Pirates have a mountain to climb at the Mem
against leaders Bristol.
Saturday March 8
Bedford v Plymouth Albion, 15:00
Sunday March 9
London Welsh v Moseley, 12:00
London Scottish v Ealing, 12:30
Bristol v Cornish Pirates, 13:00
Nottingham v Rotherham, 13:00
Leeds Head of Finance Mike Bidgood was the club's only official to
make both trips to St Peter last season, and will be here again
this weekend. This is no surprise, as he has watched every
competitive game played by the club since they were formed in
Towards the end of last season Mike (above) passed the 600-game
barrier, clocking up 131,000 miles in the process, and he has added
another 30-odd games and another few thousand miles since then. His
mileage would have taken him more than halfway to the moon, but has
instead included trips to Spain, Romania and Italy, as well as
Aspatria, Waterloo and Havant.
Other rugby action involving Jersey sides comprises Beeches v
Guernsey II at 11.30am at LQ, St Jacques v Banks at 12noon at KGV
in Guernsey, while the following day Jersey 2nds host LQ Lydian
Lions at St Peter at 12.30pm
Enjoy your weekend's rugby!
23 Mar 2023
January lessons show danger of banana skin in SW London