T'wearlies, Tom Cruse and journalistic
Among the pleasures of home-and-away exchanges with Rotherham last
season was the chance to learn some local phraseology. I
particularly liked the term for the OAP generation, who tend to be
up with the lark and enjoy free bus travel after 9.30am. They are
known as "t'wearlies", as in: "Morning Albert, it's only 20 past, I
can't let you on - you're t'wearly."
The Titans have stormed out of the blocks in 2013/14, winning four
of their five league games and only narrowly losing the other, a
five point defeat to London Welsh in which the Yorkshiremen took
two bonus points. They are playing glorious running rugby and have
scored 25 tries, the most of any Championship side. All is set
fair... but have they gone t'wearly?
Prior to Jersey's arrival at Level Two, the perception of the
Titans was as a forward-dominated side who sought to out-muscle
opposition teams, particularly in the (allegedly) narrow confines
of Clifton Lane, where the pitch is hemmed in by a grandstand
(otherwise known as 'the Shed') on one side and a cricket square on
The Titans, were martialled, some would say beasted, by the
diminutive but scary South African Andre Bester, but even before
Bester departed in October a different style of play was evident,
not least in a free-flowing contest against Jersey in
Bester's replacement, Alex Codling, was in post for just six
months, leaving at the end of the season and being replaced by one
of his players, Lee Blackett.
Jersey will be looking to make amends for an ordinary display at
home to Plymouth Albion last Saturday that took the gloss off an
otherwise half-decent start to the season. A tough challenge awaits
in the game at Clifton Lane, which will be a daylight affair
starting at 2pm.
News from the Jersey
The Jersey squad will be confirmed at around 12noon on Friday.
That's the news...
Rotherham in 2013/14
The changes of personnel at Clifton Lane this summer were
considerable with 22 new signings for the club. Among those who
departed were Jerseyman Joe Ellyatt, now plying his trade in
France, and two who were signed for Jersey by Ben Harvey -
scrum-half Jimmy Williams and returning flanker Latu Makaafi.
Williams should feature in Jersey's squad this weekend but Makaafi
is still out as he recovers from a broken jaw.
Among the new faces were fly-half Dallan Murphy from Queensland
Reds, the Argentine centre Juan Pablo Socino, the return of number
8 Alfie To'oala and fellow back row man Ed Williamson, who also
coaches the forwards. Props were sourced from an eclectic range of
sources such as Portugal (Mike Dias) and Otley (Toby
Watch out for live-wire scrum-half Charlie Mulchrone, top gun,
sorry that should read top try-scorer Tom Cruse, and the prodigious
kicking efforts of Socino, who has kicked 94 points and added two
tries so far. He landed 13 from 13 in the 79-9 walloping of
Beating Ealing followed a 42-24 win over Moseley in the
double-header that started the season at nearby Castle Park in
Doncaster, and Roth claimed a September double over Mose with a
slightly more emphatiic 21-47 win at Billesley Common.
October featured the 27-32 home defeat by Welsh, a dour 12-11 home
cup win over Bedford in appalling conditions, and defeat in
Connacht in the second round of the B&I. Last weekend Roth
faced a tough Frday night at the Athletic Ground in Richmond but
edged an exciting contest 23-24, Cruse scoring twice.
Head-to-head in 12/13
Jersey travelled to Clifton Lane on a sunny late summer Saturday
in September, and were rocked in the first half as tries by Eamonn
Sheridan, Carl Kirwan, Alex Rieder and Pale Nonu helped Titans to a
34-10 interval lead. Dai Bishop's interception was Jersey's only
The second half was an improvement, in fact Jersey 'won' it 21-20
and in the process picked up their first Championship point of the
season, for scoring four tries following second-half efforts from
Nathan Hannay, Glenn Bryce, and another Bishop effort following a
length-of-the-field move. Roth scored further tries through Garry
Law and Michael Doneghan, with Law adding 24 points with a flawless
10-from-10 kicking record.
A full report on the game, which finished 54-31, can be found HERE.
The return match may not have been a thing of beauty, but there
was no shortage of tension at St Peter. It was a physical
encounter, summed up by another physical tackle by Makaafi on his
new team-mate Nicky Griffiths (pic by Sue Trower).
Roth officials weren't delighted when the referee sanctioned a
move to Jersey's second pitch after the ongoing heavy rain left the
main arena unplayable. Ironically it was bright and sunny by the
time Saturday afternoon arrived.
The last minute had it all, with a fight breaking out in
centre-field involving some Roth players, Jersey's Barry Davies and
an invasion from the sin-bin by one of his colleagues. Titans had
been attacking, looking for a winning try, and were initially given
a penalty that could either have been kicked for a draw, or run for
victory, but then play was called back to half-way, and the game
Charlie Mulchrone and Guy Thompson scored the game's two tries.
Roth had the twin consolations of a losing BP and being one of the
only packs all season to give Jersey's talismanic tight-head Jon
Brennan any difficulty - 'the Bear' was yellow-carded in the first
half. See HERE for a full report.
History of Rotherham RUFC
Rotherham and local rivals Doncaster actually had a lower ranking
than Jersey when the RFU leagues came in 26 years ago. Jersey began
the new era in London Three South-West, level seven, while
Rotherham were in North East Division One, one rung down the
The Yorkshiremen's rise was earlier and even steeper than Jersey's
recent ascent - no fewer than seven promotions in 13 seasons saw
Rotherham reach the Premiership in 2000. This included three
successive promotions to go from level five to level two (the same
jump Jersey have recently made) between 1993 and 1996.
It's a tough call whether it was harder for Rotherham to reach the
Premiership or to stay there. First of all the club missed
automatic promotion in 1998/99 by a slither of points difference to
Bristol, and then lost a two-legged play-off with Bedford on try
count-back after a 38-38 aggregate scoreline (not the last time the
teams took part in a 76-point thriller). 12 months later, it was
another play-off, again versus Bedford, with Roth triumphant 40-34
over the two games.
Sadly it was straight back down from the Prem after just two
wins, and then a denial of promotion the following season in the
first example of ring-fencing at the top level. Roth overcame this
hurdle with promotion in 2002/03 and some robust legal challenging,
and played their most recent Premiership rugby at Millmoor, then
home of Rotherham United, in 2003/04.
Once again it proved a task too far to stay at the top level and
Roth have since been more settled at level two, a.k.a. The
Championship, in recent years. Their best finish was second spot in
2006/07 while in 2009/10 it was necessary to contest the relegation
play-offs. Last season the club finished seventh in the league but
were then last of the four clubs in Pool B of the play-offs.
Rotherham's original history dates back to the club's formation in
1923 by a number of locals who had been introduced to the game at
grammar or private schools. The early years were nomadic, until
Clifton Lane was secured in the late 1930s.
After reformation in 1946, the club struggled both on and off the
field until the 1960s when a greater flow of players from local
Well-known players with Rotherham connections include Moseley Head
Coach and 70-times Ireland cap Kevin Maggs, Spanish wing Oriol
Ripol, Irish scrum-half Guy Easterby, Henry Paul, John Bentley and
Dave Scully. 14-times-capped Samoan Mike Umaga played 123 times for
Roth, later becoming Player-Coach. Lock John Dudley played
throughout the rise to the Premiership, his final appearance coming
in September 2000 against a Newcastle squad containing the likes of
Jonny Wilkinson, Gary Armstrong, George Graham, Liam Botham, Inga
Tuigamala and Ross Beattie.
Andre Bester first became Head Coach and Chief Executive in
2005/06. He left in 2007 and took over coaching duties at
Birmingham & Solihull in 2007/08, shortly after the departure
of Ben Harvey from his final position before moving to Jersey.
Bester was back at the (coaching) helm at Clifton Lane in 2010,
before leaving in October 2012, and being replaced by Alex
Rotherham finished 2012/13 in seventh place in the table, and
over the summer confirmed Lee Blackett (above) as the new Head
Coach. Blackett, 30, spent three seasons with the club a decade
ago, making his debut in a Zurich Premiership game against Bath at
Millmoor in January 2004. He moved across Yorkshire to Leeds in
2006 but returned to Roth as a player in summer 2012.
Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Roth v
Jersey 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, and full match coverage on Monday
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby
• Match report 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
The Greene King IPA Championship
The half-dozen games are neatly split, with two per day. Ealing
have had a rough start to the season, but all this could be
forgotten if they can defeat Moseley at home and move off the
bottom of the table. Pirates hope to conclude their unsuccessful
attempt at Friday night rugby (season tickets down 21% - ouch) with
success on the pitch against London Scottish.
Saturday's other game sees Plymouth host Bristol, while Sunday
features two enticing match-ups: Leeds host London Welsh with both
sides among the early pace-setters, while two of last season's top
three, Nottingham and Bedford, meet at Meadow Lane having won just
one each of their five games to date.
The award for journalistic licence this week must surely go to
Brian Dick of the Coventry Telegraph, who used Mike Phillips'
sacking by Bayonne as the trigger for a story linking the Welsh
scrum-half with Coventry. Phillips apparently knows Player-Coach
Scott Morgan, as well as former Jersey full-back Barry Davies, so
therefore it was only natural that he'd want to keep in shape in
between his Wales duties in November and February by turning out in
National One. Watch this space (you might have to watch it for a
On Saturday Jersey Athletic play their second home league match in
the Zoo Sports Shield, with Worthing the visitors for a 12noon KO,
followed by lunch and England v Australia on the big screen. The
following day, Banks play Beeches and Jersey 2nds take on the
Wanderers/Banks Vets XV, both in the Doug Tranter Cup, and Jersey
Colts are away at old rivals Havant.
Enjoy your weekend's
29 Sep 2023
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