Next Match (yes, really!): Jersey v Leicester - will Castro
play second fidel to Big Nathan?
Beware a wounded Tiger, as the old saying goes. So perhaps not
the best time for Jersey to be playing the Tigers of Leicester,
whose last outing was a defeat in the Aviva Premiership final.
Perhaps just as well for the Islanders that there have been
two-and-a-half months for the Tigers to lick their wounds since
they were turned over by Harlequins (of all teams!) in the final
act of the 2011/12 season.
Leicester's return to action comes in a different theatre of
dreams to their previous outing. A total of 81,779 spectators saw
the 30-23 reverse against Quins at Twickenham, while even the
recent ground improvements at St Peter won't enable JRFC to match
It's been a summer of anticipation for players and supporters in
Jersey, ever since the words 'Leicester' and 'Tigers' were posted
on the board on the Airport Road marked 'Next Match'. And still
there's a sense of disbelief, especially from long-standing
members. In 2005 Jersey finally gained promotion from London Three
South-West at the 10th attempt, and since then opponents like Old
Wimbledonians, Weybridge Vandals and Farnham have been left
Four more promotions have followed since, making a total of five
in eight seasons to see Jersey just a rung behind Tigers, Quins and
their Premiership pals, and in position to secure a plum pre-season
tie which has now about to kick off.
News from the Jersey camp
It's fair to say that after a punishing 10-week period of
pre-season training that began when everyone else was having street
parties, drinking Pimm's, waving Union Jacks and toasting HM Queen,
not to mention an extra-long weekend, the Jersey players will be
champing at the bit. Some may even resemble over-excited dressage
horses about to dance round Greenwich Park to the tunes of Sir
Phillip Collins and Sir Edward Elgar.
The step-up to the RFU Championship has meant an extensive
summer shopping spree from Director of Rugby Ben Harvey, who has
signed up nine new players, one returnee and a pair of natives
upgraded to full-time status.
The star name is the England 'A' and Sevens international
Richard Haughton on the wing from London Wasps, joined in the backs
by former Cornish Pirates' centre Tom Cooper and scrum-half Joel
However much of the added beef comes in the forwards, a
reflection of both the increased physicality of the Championship,
but also the injuries that affected the Jersey pack last season.
Props Myles Landick and Jon Brennan, second rows Paul Rodgers and
Toby Clyde-Smith, flanker Graham Bell and Number 8 Nick Trower were
all hors de combat by the time the season finished,
although convalescence has been going well.
Ben Harvey announced a 24-man squad for the game, captained by
Nathan Hannay, although he stressed that not too much should be
read into who starts and who is brought on - all the subs are
likely to be introduced.
In the mix for the Jersey pack are new signings Richard
Barrington and Sean McCarthy (both props), hooker Steve Boden, and
second rows Dave Markham and Rob Anderson. New Number 8 Fred
Silcock misses out as he recovers from ankle surgery, but Trower
takes a place on the bench after recovering from injury sustained
in the final league game of 2011/12. The starting number 8 is
former captain Talite 'Vee' Vaoileti, back in Jersey after a
two-year stint in Yorkshire, while Charlie Clyde-Smith starts at
number six in his first game since becoming a full-time member of
Competition for places will be intense, ensuring that those
wearing a red shirt will be suitably keen to impress. After Tigers,
and a team-bonding-boot-camp affair in France, the Jersey side will
tackle Loughborough Students on Saturday August 25th (k-o 3pm) in
the final action before the Championship starts with Jersey v
Cornish Pirates on September 1st.
Jersey Team 1-15 ( # denotes full international
Ben Evans #
Nathan Hannay (Capt)
Talite Vaoileti #
Mike Le Bourgeois
As for Jersey, Saturday's game is a first chance for competitive
15-a-side action for Tigers this season.
Director of Rugby Richard Cockerill will be denied the services
of members of the elite England squad. The likes of Toby Flood, Dan
Cole, Louis Deacon, Geoff Parling, Manu Tuilagi and Tom Croft have
been at an international training camp this week, although they are
expected to fly over on Friday to support their clubmates. One
person not making the trip is scrum-half Ben Youngs as he continues
his recovery from a shoulder injury.
While Tigers' fans may grumble at losing players to the national
cause, and many members of the Jersey fan-base will be disappointed
not to see some of the big names, it should be pointed out that the
whole business is part of a complex agreement between club and
country, and that some of the England players whose season finished
in South Africa in late June had begun their World Cup preparations
more than 11 months previously.
And it's not as if 'Cockers' is short of quality options in
selecting a squad of 27 players. This includes talented youngsters
like fly-half George Ford (19) and loose-head prop Fraser Balmain
(20), plus internationals such as England's George Chuter, the
Fijian Vereniki Goneva, ex-All Black Scott Hamilton and venerable
former Ireland full-back Geordan Murphy (72 Irish and 2 Lions
caps). Captain for the day is Argentine-born Martin Castrogiovanni,
capped 88 times for Italy, although Jersey fans will be denied the
chance to see him pack down against the almost-as-hirsute Myles
Landick as the latter continues to recover from knee surgery.
Leicester's starting back row comprises the twice-capped England
man (and Heineken Cup kicking hero) Jordan Crane, Brett Deacon, who
is brother of Louis and recently returned from a stint at
Gloucester, and new signing Richard Thorpe, whose transfer from
London Irish was confirmed on Thursday.
The Tigers' bench includes 31-year-old South African back-five
forward Wessel Jooste, who has been training with the squad and may
have the chance to earn himself a longer-term opportunity after
eight seasons with French Top 14 club CS Bourgoin-Jallieu.
New signings on show for Leicester include:
* Rob Andrew, South African lock, signed from Pau in France (and
not to be confused with the English fly-half and RFU 'grand
* The aforementioned Veroniki Goneva, from Tarbes in France
* Matt Cornwell, centre/ fly-half, returning to Leicester after a
spell in Italy
* Adam Thompstone, wing, from London Irish
Leicester Tigers Team 1-15
Martin Castrogiovanni (Capt) #
Jordan Crane #
Vereniki Goneva #
Scott Hamilton #
George Chuter #
Geordan Murphy #
Leicester Tigers: selected milestones - a (very) full
list is available on the
1880: Leicester Football Club was founded,
acquiring the nickname 'Tigers' by 1885, although it is not known
whether this related to the team's striped shirts or a connection
with the local regiment who were nicknamed the Tigers after serving
1897: the club claim their first piece of
silverware, the Midlands Counties Cup.
1930s: the BBC makes the first radio broadcast
from Welford Road for the game against Waterloo; and Russian Prince
Alexander Obolensky makes his debut.
1978: Leicester play in their first Twickenham
final, losing 3-6 to Gloucester in the John Player Cup, but then
win the trophy for the next three years.
1984: Seven Leicester players are in the England
team who beat Ireland 12-9 at Twickenham.
1988: Tigers take the inaugural Courage League
title, the first of nine national titles.
2001: success in the Heineken Cup Final over
Stade Français, repeated 12 months later with victory over
2003: Leicester and England captain Martin
Johnson lifts the Rugby World Cup.
Premiership ref Greg Macdonald takes charge, assisted by Roy
Maybank and Andrew Pearce. Andrew is the father of Luke Pearce, one
of the up-and-coming young refs on the circuit and the man who
refereed the 2009 Siam Cup (that's the annual Jersey v Guernsey
clash for those who didn't know) at the tender age of 21.
Tickets to the game priced £15 for adults remain on sale from the
JEP offices at Five Oaks and Red Properties in St Helier
until 5pm on Friday, and are also available at the rugby club from
9am to 1pm and 5pm to 7pm on Friday, or on the gate, subject to
availability, from 12noon tomorrow. Juniors aged 16 and under will
be admitted free - proof-of-age will be required
Following the game
There's no substitute for being there, and the game even kicks off
at 4pm so there's time to get to the beach first (high tide's at
1). But it's possible to keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v
Tigers 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 and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter
• Match report on Channel 103 soon after the final whistle on
• Highlights on Channel TV at 6.15pm on Monday, and online, and on
BBC TV Channel Islands at 6.30pm on Monday
Elsewhere in the Championship
This weekend's other games (Saturday unless stated):
* Cardiff v London Scottish
* Plymouth v Taunton
* Bedwas v Moseley
* Bedford v Saracens (Fri)
* Hull v Rotherham
* Newcastle (split squad) v Doncaster
* Newcastle (s-s) v Leeds
* London Irish v Nottingham (Fri)
* Cornish Pirates v Loughborough
Bristol have just completed a pre-season tour to France and
aren't in action this weekend.
A new era for JRFC begins this season with the club sponsored by
Jersey Tourism and Locate Jersey, who will be using their
partnership with the club - through the jersey.com site - to promote the Island's many
benefits to businesses, entrepreneurs and visitors.
Talking of sponsors, today's match sponsor is Ashburton. The company has been a loyal
supporter of JRFC for many years and their support has been
instrumental in ensuring plans to host the Tigers have been
And talking of visitors, a warm welcome to the many Tigers'
supporters who have made the journey over. We hope you've enjoyed
the weather - it's been exactly the same since Easter you know -
and that as ruffty-tuffty rugger types you didn't feel too
compromised going to see a parade of flowers soon after arriving in
And equally, we look forward to welcoming Jersey supporters who
have already signed up in record numbers for membership and/ or
season tickets. We hope you approve of the improvements to the
ground and facilities that have been made over the summer, and that
the passionate home support will once again be a big factor at
'Fortress St Peter'. The defence of the fortress will be a
particularly tough task this weekend, but let's hope it's tackled
with aplomb and sets up a great season.
Enjoy your weekend's rugby.
23 Mar 2023
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