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News 2013-14

Preview to London Welsh (H) 04.01.14

03/01/2014

 

An eventful start to 2014 saw Jersey announce the appointment of
a new Head Coach. Harvey Biljon, the 36-year-old former Assistant
Coach at Cornish Pirates, signed a three-year contract. (See full
story HERE)

Jersey were delighted at the capture of someone with good pedigree
at Championship level and ready to take the next step up. In doing
so, Jersey hope he will turn around a difficult season that began
well but has featured just one win since mid-October, and included
the departure of Director of Rugby Ben Harvey at the start of
December.

Jersey's pleasure at the new signing has been heightened by some
glowing tributes and expressions of disappointment from Cornwall.
Most were philosophical and recognised a good opportunity for the
South African former Wasps scrum-half, although some Pirates' fans
were disturbed by yet more traffic on the route between Penzance
and Jersey. One suggested that the Cornish side check that their
floodlights were solidly fixed in place...

All this took place on the eve of an important game for the
Islanders, with London Welsh coming to St Peter for the first ever
competitive meeting - perhaps the first ever - between the clubs.
The Welsh spent most of the first half of the season at the top of
the table until successive league defeats enabled Bristol to sneak
a point ahead after playing their 12th game a week ahead of their
rivals.

The two clubs have agreed 2pm starts for both of their league
matches this season to enable the visiting team to fly home
afterwards. Supporters are urged to allow extra time as car parking
may be limited, depending on rainfall in the 24 hours leading to
kick-off, and consider other means of travel to the game.

News from the Jersey Camp

For all the interest and excitement of the new appointment, Jersey
have hung up the 'Business as Usual' sign for this weekend's game
ahead of the arrival of Harvey Biljon on Monday.

Partly to minimise disruption, and partly due to some ongoing
injury concerns, Interim Head Coach Steve Boden makes minimal
changes to his squad.

Tom Fidler gets a start in the front row, with Sean McCarthy moving
to the replacements' bench. The only other change among the
forwards from the pre-Christmas match against Moseley sees Nick
Campbell back in the starting XV, with Dave Markham selected on the
bench.

Jersey's starting backs are unchanged, but the squad is boosted by
the return after injury of Nicky Griffiths, who takes a place on
the bench.

Jersey squad v London Welsh (H) Saturday January 4th 2013, k-o
2pm

Backs (15-9)
Jack Burroughs
Grant Pointer
Drew Locke
David Bishop
Mark Foster
Niall O'Connor
Jimmy Williams

Forwards (1-8)
Tom Fidler
Elvis Taione
David Young
Nick Campbell
Alex Rae (capt)
Joe Buckle
Fred Silcock
Ben Maidment

Replacements (16-22)
Sean McCarthy, David Felton, Nick Selway, Latu Makaafi, Dave
Markham, Joel Dudley, Nicky Griffiths.

Any Previous?

The two clubs certainly haven't met in the modern era, and I've not
unearthed any evidence of any meetings going further back in time,
although I wouldn't rule out the Exiles having made a sneaky tour
at some stage way back when. If anyone has any info on this front,
do tell!

London Welsh in 2013/14

In the wake of relegation from the Premiership, the Exiles
recruited Justin Burnell (pictured below) as Head Coach. Burnell,
46, was a flanker with Pontypridd, Treorchy, Bridgend and Neath in
his playing days - if he'd been playing 10 years later he'd no
doubt have ended up with a cap or three - who was subsequently a
member of the coaching set-up at Cardiff Blues for five seasons,
including two as joint Head Coach.

_58713402_burnell

Burnell set to work on some recruitment of his own: former England
international Tom May joined as team captain, as did ex-British
& Irish Lions hooker Andy Titterrell. Assistant coach and fly
half Gordon Ross and former Wales centre Sonny Parker, club captain
Matt Corker, scrum half Rob Lewis and back row duo Richard Thorpe
and Daniel Browne all add further experience, to match the youthful
talents of the likes of Seb Stegmann (a Harlequins Academy graduate
who went on to play for Quins 1st XV before joining Esher), Nick
Scott, Carl Kirwan (a try-scorer for Rotherham v Jersey 16 months
ago), Peter Browne and Will Robinson. So far it's proven to be a
good blend.

More recently the Exiles have added ex-Pirate Ian Nimmo and James
Tincknell, who started the season at the Pirates (having played
against Jersey for Wharfedale in January 2012), to their squad,
while five-times-capped England centre Ollie Smith joined the
coaching set up soon after leaving Esher.

The season started well with wins over last season's play-off duo
Bedford (in the double-header) and Nottingham, albeit that both
sides have been less impressive this time around.

Plymouth were despatched 40-9 at home and Welsh moved to the top of
the table, ahead of Rotherham, courtesy of a narrow 27-32 success
at Clifton Lane.

The British & Irish Cup didn't start too well for the Welsh,
defeated by London Scottish and Pontypridd in their opening games.
They won back-to-back matches against Edinburgh Accies last month
and could yet manage a quarter-final place.

Back in the league, Welsh beat Cornish Pirates with ease and were
then more stretched by Leeds and Bristol, as well as Ealing who
showed they were getting to grips with the division in a 28-0
defeat to the unbeaten league leaders.

After defeating Moseley - 8-24 at Billesley Comon, the Welsh were
finally downed by Bedford in a 28-26 thriller at Goldington
Road.

After the December B&I break, Welsh played their fellow Exiles
London Scottish at the Kassam (pictured below). The Sky game was
played in terrible conditions, and the Scots made the better of it,
chiselling away to a 0-13 lead before Alan Awcock grabbed a
consolation try, Alex Davies' conversion attempt failing to achieve
a bonus point with the final kick.

London Welsh V London Scottish Copy

History of London Welsh RFC

Welsh Logo

The history of London Welsh so far began, as it finished, with a
defeat to London Scottish. In October 1885 the Scots won by a try
and a goal at Saracens' old Walthamstow ground in East
London.

The club has produced a steady stream of Welsh internationals,
although in the current squad only Sonny Parker (31 caps between
2002-08) has achieved that honour. The club's website puts the
total of Welsh caps over the years as 126, plus an incredible quota
of British Lions - 47.

The club achieved an amazing feat in 1971 when seven players toured
New Zealand with the Lions. Five of them appeared in all four tests
- Gerald Davies, Mervyn Davies, JPR Williams, John Taylor and John
Dawes. Picture below, full details HERE

Welsh Lions

When the league structure was introduced in 1987, Welsh started at
the level they are now, but then suffered consecutive relegations
in seasons two and three.

The 1990s saw the Exiles make it back up to the second tier, where
they stabilised for 13 seasons, including surviving going into
administration in 2009.

In 2011/12 London Welsh seized the moment, firstly on the field in
the play-offs by defeating Bristol and Cornish Pirates, and then in
the courtroom. By late June Welsh had successfully challenged the
ruling that they could not take their place in the Premiership,
staging their home games at the Kassam Stadium in Oxford and
thereby meeting the Premiership's Minimum Standards Criteria.

Life in the Premiership is rarely easy for the promoted side, and
the summer of uncertainty didn't help preparations for the Welsh,
although they made a good fist of the first half of the season,
winning four games. But after Christmas there was a five-point
deduction for fielding an ineligible player, and there wasn't
another win until it was too late, a final day success over nearest
rivals Worcester

Following the game

Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v
the Exiles through the following channels:

The Greene King IPA Championship this
weekend

Half-time in matches in round 12 of the league marks the exact
half-way mark of the season. The variable scheduling of the festive
season means that four teams have already turned for home. Bristol
and Moseley played their 12th league match at the Memorial Stadium
last Saturday in front of nearly 7,000 supporters. Bristol won 29-8
and in the process went top of the table.

London Scottish could have claimed top spot after some impressive
form to close off 2013, but ended up leaving Goldington Road
empty-handed after Bedford clung onto a narrow lead with 14 men
after Paul Tupai's red card with 15 minutes to go, and finished up
with a last kick penalty to win 21-13 and deprive the Exiles of
even a bonus point. Michael Le Bourgeois scored the game's opening
try.

The rest of the division will catch up as follows:

Saturday January 4
Titans v Pirates KO 2pm
Albion v Leeds KO 3pm
 
Sunday January 5
Nottingham v Ealing KO 3pm

Enjoy your weekend's rugby!

Tom Innes

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