Turning back the clocks at St
The last weekend in October seems very early for a return match
- the clocks haven't even gone back yet.
But that's what we're facing at St Peter this weekend, with Jersey
and Plymouth Albion having the second of three Championship
encounters for 2013/14 (the third will be a Valentine's weekend
love match in February). Kick-off is at the earlier time of 2.30pm,
as the visiting squad will be passing up the attractions of a night
out at the Traf in St Aubin in favour of an early evening flight to
The season opener enabled Albion to avenge two defeats at
Jersey's hands in 2012/13, and leaves the men from Devon just above
Jersey in the table.
With tough trips to Rotherham and London Scottish on the agenda to
start November, Jersey will be especially keen to get a win on home
A key factor for the home side will be to remain switched on
throughout, avoiding the lapses that have been responsible for
their three defeats thus far.
The priority for Albion will be keeping 15 men on the field
throughout, something they've only managed once in six competitive
games this campaign, with a tally of one red and seven yellow cards
Recent History - 1 Big Rugby Weekend
South-west 'neighbours' Albion and Jersey were paired together in
the ground Plymouth fans refer to as Shandy Park. Tom Brown claimed
the Islanders' first try of the season, this was cancelled out by
Ien Ascroft-Leigh, but Ed Dawson's try enabled his side to lead
15-13 at the break.
When Aaron Penberthy stretched his side's lead with two early
penalties, it looked like a done deal given the strong wind behind
Jersey. Instead, the wheels came off - Chris Elder and Tom Bowen
(above) scored tries, and although Penberthy was able to level the
scores at 27-all, Albion pulled clear with two more tries.
The match featured a prominent performance in the
impact-sub-cum-panto-villain Rob Langley. Soon after coming on
Langley committed a professional foul but was spared the sin-bin
because the referee didn't see his number, and couldn't refer to
the TMO as the offence wasn't foul play. The rangy forward then
proceeded to surf the wave of good fortune on which he found
himself, scoring his side's fourth try and then being spared a
likely red card for a tip-tackle on Jersey's Dave Felton. He
departed, grinning, to spend the last seven minutes of the game in
the sin-bin, with Jersey supporters spluttering into their
The full match report can be found HERE
News from the Jersey camp
Director of Rugby Ben Harvey mixed things up in the British &
Irish Cup, but is set to return to the line-up he considers his
strongest available for this game.
Jersey will hope Tongan hooker Elvis Taione will leave the Island
for a three-week international break on a winning note, while Nicky
Griffiths will surely return to the scrum-half berth.
The home side will name their side at 12noon on Friday.
New Coach leads Albion into 2013/14
James Shanahan was appointed a few days before Albion concluded
their 2012/13 season, altho' the new man completed the season as
Player-Coach of Old Albanians, steering the club to a creditable
fifth spot in SSE National One. Shanahan played for Albion during
2002/03 - one stop of a career that also took in Exeter, the
Cornish Pirates, Bedford and Cambridge.
Albion had a disjointed pre-season, not helped by Worcester
cancelling a planned fixture due not having sufficient players (the
implausible 'our coach caught fire on the motorway' excuse just
wasn't going to wash). Plymouth did give a mixed Gloucester squad a
decent game, losing 22-13 at Kingsholm, and also had wins against
Aberavon, Exmouth and Redruth.
The season started with the Double Header match with Jersey, and
the following Friday Albion looked to be cruising to their second
win of the season, 31-6 up over Moseley just before half-time at
Brickfields. Somehow the visitors got back into it, and the match
finished 34-all, with Plymouth gaining three points.
The final weekend of September saw Albion head to the Kassam
Stadium in Oxford, where they were well-beaten by London Welsh,
before another Friday night home game featuring a lead that was
lost, London Scottish replacement Jamie Stevenson scored a late try
to clinch a 20-22 win for his side.
The British & Irish Cup has seen Albion claim nine points from
two games, defeating Nottingham 28-9 at home and then scoring six
tries in a 9-38 win at Stirling.
'Shanners' (pictured above) has overseen a significant change in
personnel over the summer, with a number of new signings, including
centre Pale Nonu from Rotherham, full-back Chris Elder (Esher)
fly-half Dan Mugford from London Scottish and prop Tom Harrison
from French side Auch. There have also been departures, including
Tongan veteran Keni Fisilau for Oxford Harlequins, and Canadian
skipper Aaron Carpenter to Cornish Pirates.
Two Canadian internationals remain - former captain Sean-Michael
Stephen, and lock Brett Beukeboom, who faced Jersey's Taione in the
Pacific Nations Cup tie between Canada and Tonga in June (Albion
team-mate Sam Matavesi made his debut for Fiji in the same
tournament) but was not required by his country as they secured a
World Cup 2015 berth by beating their US neighbours in a two-leg
show-down in August. Beukeboom is currently suspended having been
sent off in the match against London Scottish.
Perhaps the most interesting position for Plymouth is fly-half
where, like guests making for the Ferrero Rocher at the
ambassador's party, they are truly spoiled. Supporters are divided
whether Mugford or the Irishman Declan Cusack is the preferred
option. Cusack joined during last season and had his first start in
the game against Jersey at Brickfields in March, but was injured
for last month's Jersey game when Mugford slotted seven kicks at a
100% success rate. To complicate matters, Shanahan is also a
fly-half and has utilised his own services from the bench in all
the league matches so far this season.
Mugford, with 54, is Albion's top points scorer this season and
after four Championship matches he has slotted 19 of his 20 kicks
at goal with the other effort hitting an upright.
Albion have a number of dual registered players, but haven't yet
seen much of wing Jack Arnott, scrum-half Rob Coote and the front
row Cowan-Dickie brothers Tom and Luke. Luke, the younger of the
two, was part of the winning England squad in the Under 20 World
Cup in France this summer.
History of Plymouth Albion RFC
Plymouth Albion RFC (then Devonport Albion) were formed in 1875
and their team originally comprised of Dockyard apprentices taken
from the local harbours.
Plymouth's first home was Devonport Park before they moved to Home
Park, which is now the home of Plymouth Argyle FC. In 1925 the club
relocated to Beacon Park, which remained their home until 2003 when
they moved to their current ground Brickfields.
In the late 1980's Albion were one of the leading lights in the
setting up of the National Leagues. In 1988-89, the first season
that promotion was available, Albion won Courage League Three with
a 100% record that saw them promoted to the second tier of English
After two seasons at that level, Albion went into a period of
decline and were nearly relegated from the National Leagues
altogether. In 2000 former England and Bath hooker Graham Dawe was
appointed as Chairman of Rugby in order to try and turn the clubs
Promotion came in Dawe's second season and a unbeaten run of 43
leagues games saw Plymouth gain another promotion, this time to
National League One (now the Championship).
Dawe put together a formidable squad which included players such
as Dan Ward-Smith, Luke Arscott and Will James, and in 2005 Albion
finished third, were just 11 points off promotion to the
After finishing fifth and sixth in the next two seasons, Albion
went into another period of decline, which eventually led to Dawe
leaving the club midway through last season. He was replaced by
former Exeter Chiefs' Head Coach Pete Drewett, but when a proposed
financial backer failed to materialise, Drewett left and Assistant
Coach Nat Saumi, a former Fijian 7s international who joined
Plymouth as a player in 2003, took control.
Under Saumi's leadership Albion made a strong finish to 2011/12,
registering four wins out of six in the relegation play-offs to
pull clear of danger.
Links with Jersey are few, but Jersey-born centre Ross Allan
(above) played for Albion in the late noughties, making more than
30 first team appearances. His only try for the club was against
Manchester in December 2008. Back-row player Charlie Walker-Blair
was linked with a move to Brickfields this summer after a move from
Jersey to Sale fell through on medical grounds, but CWB suffered a
further knee injury in August requiring surgery and it was feared
his career could be in the balance.
Albion in 2012/13
Four wins from five games saw Plymouth jostling for position at
the top end of the Championship at the end of September, but the
remaining seven months of the season were tough for Nat Saumi's
men. After defeating London Scottish at home on November 9, Albion
lost a record nine straight league matches, and after losing to
Jersey in early March, Nat Saumi announced he would leave the club
at the end of the season.
Championship status was by no means secure at this point, but in
the next game after Saumi's announcement a hard-fought 9-16 win in
the reverse fixture against the Exiles was enough to take Plymouth
clear, and they achieved a seventh league win of the season on the
final day, 22-26 at Castle Park against relegated Doncaster.
Jersey claimed their second league win in defeating Albion 16-14
at St Peter in November. James Copsey's try after three minutes put
the Islanders in front, but the visitors recovered to lead 10-14
early in the second half before two Mike Le Bourgeois' penalties
edged Jersey into a winning lead. The match finished with a rain
shower and a glorious sunset, captured below by Sue Trower, and no
apologies are proffered for using it again. The match report is HERE.
In March, a Guy Thompson try was all Jersey had to show at
half-time, leading only 3-5 in spite of having much of the play.
Captain Nicky Griffiths scored twice in five minutes early in the
second half but his side still had to encounter a late fightback,
and the loss of front row players Jon Brennan and Dave Felton to
hospital, before claiming their first away league win. Final score
15-19 - report's HERE.
Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey
v Plymouth 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, more coverage in the 'Inside Centre'
pull-out in Saturday's paper (on sale from 7am) and full match
coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby
• Match preview on Channel 103 on Saturday afternoon
• The Plymouth Herald will be at the game and has
a 'running online commentary' which covers (almost) every move and
is available via the sports pages
• 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
Jersey's next two opponents clash at the Athletic Ground in
Richmond on Friday, while on Sunday, live on Sky, Bedford and
Ealing should get their first league win of the season. What price
London Scottish v Rotherham, 7.30pm
Moseley v Leeds, 3pm
London Welsh v Cornish Pirates, 6.30pm
Bristol v Nottingham, 3pm
Bedford v Ealing, 3.15pm (live on Sky)
Since former Jersey player Mike Le Bourgeois was widely featured
on Youtube for being clattered by Courtney Lawes in pre-season,
it's only fair to flag up another clip which proves that 'Booj' is
a pretty handy tackler in his own right. See HERE
In other rugby involving Jersey sides, HMP Panthers host visitors
from St Jacques in Guernsey, with the match at Les Quennevais at
11am. The same ground sees LQ Lydian Lions play Beeches, while
Jersey 2nds take on Banks at Grainville at 11.30am. Jersey's
newly-formed amateur side, Jersey Athletic, will be seeking a
fourth consecutive win with a Shield fixture at Henley.
Enjoy your weekend's rugby
Why not get yourself a Hot Pot (Curry or Chilli served with rice) in the supporters marquee £8 per pot.