Preview - Oscars, Valentine's and the Big
Love is in the air as Nottingham make their first-ever trip to
Jersey, and not just because two proud Cornishmen* will be leading
their teams into battle at St Peter.
The mid-February slot in the fixture list has enabled some of
the visiting fans to offer their loved ones a romantic overseas
weekend get-away (as in 'I just might get away with it'). There's
just the small catch (or added bonus, depending which way you look
at it) of a Championship rugby match when they get here.
Hopefully the Valentine's victims were aware of the small-print,
unlike a particularly long-suffering spouse who came over for 'a
relaxed weekend break' (as sold) in October. Her husband casually
suggested an evening stroll in St Helier soon after they had
arrived and checked-in. "How about a drink, my cherub?" he asked
shortly afterwards, turning into the nearest hostelry...
What followed was worthy of an Oscar, as the gentleman - I use
the word loosely - managed to feign surprise that a dozen members
of his rugby team were in the pub, that it just happened to be the
weekend of the Jersey Vets tournament, and that just by luck he'd
happened to throw a pair of rugby boots and some shorts in his
While the annual celebration of coarse rugby that is the Vets
Tournament was kicking of, Jersey's 1st XV were heading to the
airport to travel to Nottingham for a rather more serious
encounter. And at about the same time that the Oscar-winner's side
were lifting the Vets' trophy on the Sunday (watched by his other
half - really!), Jersey were finishing a distant second at Meadow
Lane: the 48-16 defeat remains the heaviest of a tough first season
at level two.
Four-and-a-half months later, Jersey have found their elusive
first league win, and followed it with three more, all on home soil
at St Peter. Nottingham remain in the upper reaches of the league
table - a certainty for the play-offs surely - but Jersey will be
looking to underline the improvements they have made and make the
scoreline an awful lot closer second time around.
2012/13 - the Big
At the time of going to press, the home club were unsure whether
the main pitch at St Peter would be fit to host the match, writes
Michael Fish. A decision is likely early on Friday morning
following a pitch inspection.
STOP PRESS: Following the pitch inspection
it has been announced that pitch 1 remains unplayable and, subject
to the referee's approval, the game will take place on the
neighbouring pitch 4.
Fortunately for those planning to come to the game, especially a
sizeable contingent from the Midlands, there are neighbouring
pitches on stand-by, one of which could be pressed into service if
need be. The Jersey v Rotherham game was moved on Saturday morning,
after another night of torrential rain, to pitch 2. One Roth fan
asked where pitch 2 was, only to be told that it lay between
pitches 1 and 3.
Happily the weather forecast looks to have delivered kind
weather from around 9am on Thursday until game-day. "About time,"
as many in Jersey, after a ridiculously large volume of rain
throughout the winter, may say.
The final quarter of 2012 (Oct 1- Dec 31) saw 487mm of rain
measured at Jersey Airport (across the road from JRFC). This was a
centimetre short of being the wettest Q4 on record (records for the
site date back to 1957), which occurred in 1982 - 497mm.
Since the turn of the year, rainfall at Jersey Airport has
continued well above average. January saw 109mm of rain, 17% more
than the monthly average of 93mm. In February there was 48mm up to
the morning of Feb 11, well ahead of the average of 69mm for the
It's been so wet that groundsman Myles Landick, also a member of
the 1st team squad, has developed the ability to breathe
underwater, and is also now indistinguishable from the legendary
fellow dread-locked prop Fran Cotton in the famous pic
from the Lions tour in 1977.
The consolations for 'Mylo' are that he scored a try for the 2nd
team on his return last weekend, and that other grounds are
suffering as well - Moseley's game with Bristol was postponed last
Saturday, and the Pirates against Doncaster the following day
arguably should have been - see pic below tweeted by BBC commentator Dick Straughan.
News from the Jersey
A combination of injuries and narrow preferences means Jersey's
starting XV will have six changes from the line-up who lost 38-21
to Bedford at Goldington Road last weekend.
After losing one centre, Dai Bishop, in training last week,
another one was ruled out this Tuesday with Tom Cooper sustaining a
knee injury which is still being assessed but rules his out this
The injuries, and Max Stelling's switch to the bench, mean
Ashley Maggs and Donovan Sanders come into the midfield, while
James Copsey is preferred to Chris Levesley on the wing. Ross
Broadfoot and Michael Le Bourgeois remain at fly-half and full-back
Fred Silcock, an impactful replacement against the Blues, starts
in the back-row ahead of Joe Buckle, while Sean McCarthy and
Charlie Clare are promoted from the bench to the starting front row
in place of Richard Barrington and Dave Felton.
Jersey lost 48-16 to Nottingham when the two sides met on
Jersey squad, sponsored by Locate Jersey and
1 Sean McCarthy
2 Charlie Clare
3 Jon Brennan
4 Nathan Hannay
5 Dave Markham
6 Kingsley Lang
7 Fred Silcock
8 Guy Thompson
9 Nicky Griffiths (capt)
10 Ross Broadfoot
11 Ed Dawson
12 Ashley Maggs
13 Donovan Sanders
14 James Copsey
15 Mike Le Bourgeois
16 Richard Barrington
17 Dave Felton
18 James Gethings
19 Paul Rodgers
20 Joe Buckle
21 Dave McCormack
22 Glenn Bryce
The match at Meadow Lane has been mentioned already. Jersey were
hit hard with 17 points conceded in the first five minutes. Savage
and Shaw claimed tries and James Arlidge added a penalty and both
The visitors recovered slightly to the extent that they were
just 23-13 down at the break, Michael Le Bourgeois claiming all his
side's points with a try, conversion and two penalties.
Jersey needed to score first after the break but instead it was
a Green-and-White procession, with a Duffey try and two more
Arlidge penalties. Ben Evans, in what was to be his last appearance
as a Jersey player, was yellow-carded for repeated infringement and
when replacement James Gethings had no better fortunes, a penalty
try was given, before Rhys Crane rounded off the afternoon with his
side's fifth try.
A fuller report can be found HERE.
A new Head Coach was appointed in the summer, with former Bath
lock Martin Haag taking over following Glenn Delaney's departure
after seven years to join London Irish as Forwards Coach. The
47-year-old played 295 times for Bath and won two England caps,
both against Argentina in 1997. He has coaching experience both at
Bath and in the England Under 18 and Under 20 set-ups.
Haag and Jersey's Ben Harvey have encountered each other on the
field at least once, after Haag started to wind down his career in
his home county of Cornwall (* he moved there with his family from
Essex at the age of four): in March 2003 they were on opposing
sides in level three when Penzance & Newlyn (a.k.a. the Cornish
Pirates) hosted Stourbridge. Harvey landed three kicks for the
visitors but they were defeated 44-18 by the Pirates.
As well as Delaney, another major departure was that of the
long-serving Craig Hammond, the stalwart lock departing for a new
career in Hong Kong after more than 10 years' service and 267
starts for Notts. This record has subsequently been reclaimed by
David Jackson, who passed Hammond during September.
This year's squad is a good mix of youth and experience, with
some new signings but not the revolving door process that occurs
annually at many clubs.
Pulling the strings in the back-line from fly-half will be James
Arlidge, 33, a Kiwi by birth who qualified to play for Japan
through playing there from 2004-08, before moving to the Dragons in
Wales in 2008 and Nottingham two years later. Arlidge (below) has
won more than 30 caps for the 'Cherry Blossoms' and played in the
2011 Rugby World Cup.
Also in the backs, look out for another New Zealander, Sean
Romans, wearing number 9, the long-serving Jackson on the wing and
another old hand, Andrew Savage, who is starting his seventh season
In the forwards, yet another NZ-born player, captain Brent
Wilson, is one of the leading flankers in the division, having
joined Notts from Newcastle midway through last season. He is
joined in the back row by number 8 Alex Shaw, who has been on the
books of eight clubs in spite of being only 25.
New signing from Leeds Joe Quinn will contest the second-row
spots with Dan Montagu and Nic Rouse, while the front row has a
strong Leicester influence. Hooker Joe Duffey and props Michael
Holroyd, Matt Parr and Ryan Bower have all played for the Tigers at
various points in their careers; Bower is a dual-registered player
who was on the pre-season trip to Jersey and came on as a
replacement in the friendly at St Peter.
Nottingham began the season with a narrow 34-29 win over Leeds
on the final day of August and then played fellow Midlanders (if
not quite a derby) Moseley, winning 28-17 at Billesley Common.
There followed a close tussle at Meadow Lane against Rotherham,
with the scores 9-9 on the hour. However a penalty try on 63
minutes helped the visitors break the deadlock and with eight
points from McKinney's boot and a late try by Sheridan, Roth were
away and clear at 27-9 before the hosts claimed a last minute
consolation to narrow the gap to 27-16.
The agony of a last-minute (27-25) defeat to Bedford after an
impressive display - it was actually the 93rd minute - was soothed
when London Scottish were put to the sword 54-9. The
Green-and-Whites scored seven tries, including braces by Jackson
and centre Tim Streather.
The thumping of the Exiles, and the big home win over Jersey,
showed Haag's men were really beginning to hit their straps, to
coin a cliché, and in fact they have only lost three times in the
league since late September: by 29-9 at Kingston Park against the
leaders, 11-10 at the Mennaye against the Pirates, and then the
surprising 25-13 reverse against London Scottish at the RAG last
In between the isolated defeats, the Championship was going
well, with decent road wins at Plymouth and Rotherham and four
victories at Meadow Lane. Moseley and Doncaster may have been as
expected as the result against Jersey, but two wins really made a
statement - the 63-7 thumping of Bristol in early November - still
the biggest scoreline in the division so far, and a thorough job
against Bedford in January, even though the Blues recovered to a
reasonably respectable 25-17 by the end.
Notts have had a mixed season in the British & Irish Cup but
could be set to pull off something of a conjuring trick. After two
rounds they had just one losing bonus point after going down to
Llandovery and Doncaster Knights. Things picked up in December with
a maximum haul from two games against Melrose, and a 14-16 success
in the re-match with Donny, meant there was a chance to qualify for
To claim their B&I spoils - £10,000 is available to pool
winners, with a projected QF trip to Newcastle thrown in -
Nottingham will have to defeat Llandovery at Meadow Lane next
weekend, claiming a bonus point and denying one to the visitors,
and win by 10 clear points, but this looks to be a feasible
ambition unless the Welsh play out of their skins.
15 Andrew Savage 14 Alex Lewington 13 Tim Streather 12 Joe Munro
11 David Jackson 10 James Arlidge 9 Sean Romans 1 Matt Parr 2 Joe
Duffey 3 Michael Holford 4 Dan Montagu 5 Nic Rouse 6 Rupert Cooper
7 Brent Wilson 8 Alex Shaw.
Replacements from: 16 Shaun Malton 17 Ryan Bower 18 Joe
Quinn 19 Tom Calladine 20 Finlay Barnham 21 Joe Cobden 22 Andy
History of Nottingham
The club was formed in 1877 by former Rugby School pupil Alick
Birkin, who returned to his home city and recruited some friends to
play the game he'd enjoyed at the school where William Webb Ellis
invented it some 50 years previously.
The Birkin family were involved in Nottingham rugby until the
mid 1950s, including the donation of land at Ireland Avenue,
Beeston, in 1904 by Alick's brother Leslie - this was the club's
home for more than a century until it was sold in 2006.
Nottingham have spent most of the 25 seasons of the league era
at level two, now the RFU Championship - the club first entered
this league in the early 90s, and though relegated in 1996/97 they
were back after being runners-up at level three in 2003/04.
Since their return, the club's best finish has been third in
2007/08, but they have failed to make an impact in the promotion
play-offs in the past three seasons, with a trio of identical
finishes - fifth in the regular season, third in their promotion
pool. This season, with the play-off stakes halved to a field of
four, they are vying for second place with Bedford and should be
involved when the knock-out stages commence in May.
The club is owned by Meadow Lane plc, which also owns Notts
County FC, and have played at Meadow Lane since 2006.
VH Cartwright was Nottingham's first England player, winning 14
caps in the early 1900s and subsequently becoming President of the
The 1980s was a golden era, with Nottingham runners-up in the
National Merit Table in 1985/86 and having no less than five
England caps during the decade: Gareth Rees, Rob Andrew, Brian
Moore, Chris 'Swing Low' Oti and Simon Hodgkinson, as well as the
Scotland lock Chris Gray.
Recent internationals include James Arlidge, the US full-back
Chris Wyles (now at Saracens) and the New Zealand lock Ali
Williams, who played a month of rugby with the Green-and-Whites as
part of a successful return from injury in early 2011. That's
successful as in he won the World Cup 10 months later...
Coming to St
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. The £3
concession rate will also be available to any full-time student on
production of the appropriate identification.
Tickets will be on sale on the gate from 12noon on Saturday,
with the ground and facilities open from then onwards. Tickets can
also be purchased on Friday evening, when the Pavilion Bar will be
open for a pre-match reception between 5.30pm and 7.30pm, with free
nibbles and the chance for rival supporters to socialise ahead of
the following day's game.
Recent wet weather means parking will be once again be available
on the Airport Field on Avenue de la Commune (that's the main route
from the airport to Red Houses). Access is opposite the two petrol
stations.?A courtesy shuttle bus service will operate between the
Airport Field car park and the club, starting at 12noon (ideal for
lunchers ahead of their 12.30pm meal) and running until
5.45pm.??Spectators are urged to allow extra time to access the car
park or consider other means of transport such as taxis, a lift, or
the bus (services #9 and #15).
Wherever the match ends up being played, sensible footwear is
recommended. Pack the stilettos in your handbag/ kitbag/ manbag for
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v
Notts through the following channels:
* Live commentary on BBC Jersey, available online and on your
transistor-wireless device, with the show starting at 2pm, plus
preview on Friday evening from 5.30 to 6pm
* Preview on Channel TV on Friday evening between 6 and 6.30pm,
and highlights at the same time on Monday (also available
* Match report on Channel 103 just after 5pm
* Preview in Friday's JEP,
the Inside Centre pull-out with Saturday's paper and full match
coverage on Monday
* Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby
The Championship this
While Moseley look to have a near-impossible mission against the
Falcons, the visitos at Kingston Park will take heart that London
Scottish almost pulled off a major surprise just before Christmas,
eventually losing 12-9. 12th-placed Doncaster look to have a more
realistic chance of points, albeit against a play-off contender,
when they host a rare Saturday afternoon fixture against local
Last weekend's results see the first signs of a mid-table group
of clubs emerging. Plymouth, Rotherham and London Scottish have
surely done enough to stay up already, and only an amazing run of
wins would propel them into play-off contention. That leaves
Bedford, Bristol and the Pirates trying to maintain their play-off
v Moseley (8pm)
v Leeds 2.30pm; Plymouth v Bedford 3pm
Pirates v London Scottish 2.30pm;?Bristol v Rotherham Titans
The Preview is proud to be the forum in which the really tough
questions are posed, and answers demanded. With this in mind, we
seek to determine whether Martin Haag is unique among Championship
bosses - is Haag the only man to wear a tie on match-days, and does
he do this for every game, only for home games, or only for games
that are televised on Sky?
Meanwhile, it is hoped there will be some rugby for local sides
in Jersey this weekend. On Saturday Beeches play Banks at Les
Quennevais at 11.30am and at 1pm on the same pitch (no injury time
please ref!) Jersey Wanderers host St
Jacques from Guernsey, who are over en masse for the 50th
birthday of club stalwart Stef Bampton. Happy Birthday Stef, see
you at St Peter later on!
On Sunday Jersey Athletic will host LQ Lydian Lions at St Peter
at 2pm, while Banks Ladies travel to Guildford for a league
Enjoy your weekend's
23 Mar 2023
January lessons show danger of banana skin in SW London