Easter tour stories: Groundhogs, Gordon and Gavin
The penultimate weekend of the Greene King IPA Championship
season is a Groundhog occasion for Jersey. Sitting in 11th place in
the table, with a narrow lead over the side beneath them, the
Islanders know that failure to win could see them slip into the
drop zone. Squeaky bottoms all round, as Jersey supporters chew
their nails with a fervour not seen since Gordon Brown's
onychophagia was at its height.
The parallels with this time last year aren't exact - 12 months
ago, relegation rivals Doncaster were the visitors to St Peter,
this season it is steady-Eddie, mid-table, London Scottish, who
have already established a solid fifth place finish regardless of
remaining results. A decent effort by the Exiles - up three places
on last season, which was in itself a three-rung improvement on
their debut Championship effort, 11th in 2011/12.
So the Scots have nothing to play for, set for an old-school
Easter Tour with compulsory left-handed drinking, fancy dress, bans
on sleeping or eating (or both) and glasses of port at half-time?
Well, it's a tempting theory, but it's about as likely to happen as
Jersey to finish a season in mid-table (2001-02 was the last
occasion - fifth in London 3SW). The Exiles' full-time professional
squad may be looking to enjoy their tour, but their intention will
be to mark the trip with a win, finishing off the season with style
(just in case Bristol prove too strong for them on the final day of
the season). Not to mention their status as the second tightest
defence in the division (conceding 35 tries, to 32 by London
Jersey have under-delivered in their last three games since an
impressive away success against Plymouth. Some supporters were
disappointed to hear that Ealing had kept the relegation battle
alive with a narrow (about the width of a post) win over Nottingham
last weekend; but others would rather the debate was settled by
their team winning, something an extremely motivated squad will be
looking to achieve at St Peter this weekend. They'll take the field
a few minutes before the early kick-off of 2pm, and like the whole
season so far, it's likely to be an exciting ride.
News from the Jersey Camp?
The Jersey squad will be announced on Friday at 12noon.
This season's first encounter took place at the Richmond Athletic
Ground in November (pictured below). Jersey took the lead
through Niall O'Connor's penalty, but tries from PJ Gidlow and Mark
Bright put the Exiles 12-3 up at the break and there was to be no
second-half comeback for the visitors, who conceded further tries
from Bright - his second - and Miles Mantella. This duo have been
hot stuff this season, with 16 league tries each to top the
Championship scoring charts along with Bristol's George Watkins
(they have 16-apiece). Anyway, the match finished Scottish 29
Jersey 3, and the full report's HERE
In early March 2013 on a sunny afternoon at the RAG, Jersey
trailed 14-12 at the break after tries by Ed Dawson and Max
Stelling answered one by Adam Kwasnicki, plus three James Love
Tries by Charlie Clare and Guy Thompson in the third quarter
helped reduce the arrears to 27-26, but Miles Mantella supplemented
his earlier try with a second, and Mark Bright took the hosts out
of sight, helped by eight successful kicks by Love. Jersey did win
the try count 4-5 after a late Richard Barrington try, but it
finished 41-33. Full report HERE
Jersey hosted the Exiles on the final weekend of October 2012, and
built up a 13-3 lead at half-time thanks to a Guy Thompson try
(captured below by Sue Trower) and eight points from the
boot of Booj. Things got even better for the home side when James
Copsey scored one of the best tries of the season, his finishing
skill matching fine approach play from team-mates.
A 17-point margin was surely too much for the visitors? Well, in
the end it was, but not before Scottish had stormed back with tries
in the 52nd (a PT) and 75th minute. The second score, by Jim
Thompson, gave just enough time for a winning, or tying score, but
Jersey held on. More details about the game are available HERE.
London Scottish in 2013/14
The Exiles suffered a blow in the days leading up to their opening
league match when Director of Rugby Simon Amor was snapped up as
the new England Sevens supremo.
The new man in charge was ex-Forwards Coach James Buckland, the
32-year-old former Leicester hooker (pictured below) who
played in the 2007 Heineken Cup final and subsequently saw out his
playing career with Wasps and London Irish.
Before he left, Amor has overseen a summer of transfer activity.
His signings included second row David Lyons from Cornish Pirates,
fly-half Lee Millar from Gala and no fewer than four Rotherham
Titans: prop Jamie Kilbane, hooker Ted Stagg and wingers Peter
Homan and Mike Doneghan.
The new faces joined some experienced campaigners, such as hooker
Adam Kwasnicki, lock Alex Karonias, ultility back Ollie Grove and
back row men Mark Bright - the club captain - and Lewis Calder -
son of Jim and nephew of Finlay.
The season opened with a 13-44 win against Ealing in the London
double-header, and the Exiles gave Bristol a fright at the Mem
before losing 31-18.
A brace of league victories over Nottingham and Plymouth then
followed, but after that fortunes dipped, with Rotherham edging a
tight affair at the RAG (23-24) and then Cornish Pirates claiming a
Friday night home win by 16-8.
Leeds Carnegie were the visitors to the Athletic Ground in
mid-November in a game which saw Scottish record a first ever
Championship win over the Yorkshiremen, by 26-15.
The most eye-catching result of the season came in a live Sky
Sports game before Christmas, when Scottish defeated Exile
rivals London Welsh at the Kassam Stadium to move up to second
place in the Championship.
They failed to back this up on New Year's Day, losing 21-13 to
Bedford at Goldington Road and more angst was to follow, this time
in the B&I Cup.
It has been an up and down league campaign since then with home
wins against Cornish Pirates, Plymouth Albion, Bedford and Ealing,
plus away at Moseley, sandwiched in between away defeats at
Nottingham Rugby, Rotherham Titans and Leeds Carnegie, and a home
loss to London Welsh.
History of London Scottish FC
Like many fine institutions, London Scottish FC was formed in a
pub, namely Mackay's Tavern in the City of London on April 10th
1878. The club adopted the colours they still wear to this day,
albeit with fewer sponsors' logos, and in the first season were
captained by their Chairman, Begbie Gibson.
The first season featured 15 matches, and three of the opposing
clubs are still in existence - Wasps, Twickenham and Guy's
Hospital. Bill MacLagan captained the club in the 1880s for five
seasons and was the first player to win a cap for Scotland.
The club continued to thrive adding respected opponents like
Oxford and Cambridge Universities and Harlequins to the fixture
list and after a short period at Lee and then Brondesbury, moved to
Old Deer Park in Richmond as tenants of Richmond Cricket Club and
then in 1894 to their present ground the Richmond Athletic Ground,
which they share with Richmond Football Club.
The club prospered, establishing an excellent playing reputation
and attracting many fine players who represented their country,
some of whom went onto play for the British Lions. In fact since
the club was formed, this heritage has produced in the region of
220 Scottish Internationals and the same number of Lions captains
as Leicester Tigers with four (MacLagan, David Bedell-Sivright in
1903/4, Mike Campbell-Lamerton in 1966 and Gavin Hastings
(below) in 1993).
Other Scottish internationals worthy of mention include a
proliferation of back-row men - Mike Biggar, Rob Wainwright, Derek
White and Ian Smith - as well as Paul Burnell, Alastair McHarg,
Allan Lawson and Kenny Logan. Logan scored the last try of his
competitive career for Scottish in December 2005 in a fiery
encounter against Richmond, won 27-25 by the landlords.
The club began the league era in 1987 at level two, and by 1998
were a fully-professional unit playing in the Premiership. However
this was also the season that the professional club went into
administration, necessitating a year out while the original club
was reformed and placed into Herts/ Middlesex Division One (level
nine) in 2000.
Four successive promotions kick-started the revival, and since
then Scottish have been promoted on three further occasions to
return to their original status when the leagues began 25 years
previously. An eventful journey, with the most extraordinary
episode being the last-minute interception try that secured
promotion from National One at Barking's expense. Three years later
the incident is still on Youtube, if you missed it, and
Barking have just exited the National Leagues thanks to a third
In their first season in the Championship, the Scots survived on
the final day when they got the result they needed at the expense
of opponents Esher. But last season, after a sluggish start, they
eventually finished eighth
Following the Game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v
London Scottish through the following channels:
• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey on Friday from 5.30pm, and live
commentary on Saturday afternoon (available online and on your
• Preview in Friday's JEP - the local paper will publish a Good
Friday edition, 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
6.30pm (subject to Bank Holiday scheduling - could be
The Greene King IPA Championship this
The quartet of play-off teams have now been confirmed, and they
will play each other in two pairs this weekend, both live on Sky.
The winner of Friday's game at the Mem is likely to finish top of
the table, setting up a play-off semi-final in which they will
probably take on the team which loses the Saturday evening
Yorkshire derby. This latter match takes place at Abbeydale in
Sheffield due to 'complications' with Rotherham's Clifton Lane
home, which has staged its final rugby match for the season, and is
set to switch into cricket mode for the summer.
Good Friday's second game will see Nottingham trying to snap a
poor run of just one win in 13 league games, tho' the
Green-and-Whites have also managed a draw and 10 bonus points
during this period to keep themselves away from the relegation
trapdoor, although another couple of points are required against
Moseley to make sure.
On Saturday Bedford host the Pirates in the division's only dead
rubber, but there's plenty riding on events at Brickfields, with
Ealing seeking to continue recent good form that has delivered 10
points in three games and kept Jersey firmly in their sights.
Friday April 18
Bristol v London Welsh, 19:45 - live on Sky Sports
Nottingham Rugby v Moseley, 20:00
Saturday April 19
Bedford v Cornish Pirates, 15:00
Plymouth Albion v Ealing, 15:00
Rotherham v Leeds, 17:15 - live on Sky Sports
Easter may not be sacred, in rugby terms any longer, with teams in
the Premiership and Championship having scheduled games, and many
National League sides having fixtures to make up after the wet
But everyone knows that this weekend should really be about Easter
tour, and there will be at least two touring posses at St Peter on
Saturday as part of their tours. LSRG from Holland play Banks on
Saturday at Grainville (k-o 11.30am) and Beeches at the same venue
on Sunday (2pm), while the Ladies of Darlington will tackle
Jersey United Banks Ladies at St Peter on Saturday at 12noon. Also
at St Peter on Saturday, Jersey 2 play Guernsey 2 at 11am.
Enjoy your weekend's rugby - deep breaths!
29 Sep 2023
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