Tongans, Titans and Bums Off Seats
For the second successive away match, Jersey head to Yorkshire:
the county that finished 12th in the medals table at London 2012,
the home of good honest broadband, good honest brass bands and a
quarter of the teams in this year's RFU Championship.
The scene for Jersey's second away trip of 2012/13 is just a few
junctions down the M1, crossing the border from West to South
Yorkshire in the process, but it promises to be quite a different
affair. After the Friday night floodlights and the 22,000 capacity
stadium of Headingley, it's time for Saturday afternoon in the
somewhat earthier surroundings of Clifton Lane.
Rotherham Titans share their ground with the local cricket club,
meaning the rugby pitch is a narrow one hemmed in by the cricket
square on one side and the main stand on the other. Rotherham were
mid-table in the league last year in terms of the crowds attracted,
an average of 1,443. That's a little closer to capacity than was
the case at Headingley.
The alleged narrowness of the pitch and the size of the
Rotherham pack has created a perception that Titans are an entirely
forward-based team whose aim is to squeeze the life out of visiting
packs. Like most preconceptions, this probably paints a simplistic
picture - the visiting party will soon be able to judge for
Rotherham Coach Andre Bester (above), now in his second spell at
the club, has the reputation as a tough and straight-talking
leader. Certainly he didn't hedge his bets at the start of the
season, saying categorically that his team would finish in the top
four. With certainty like that, home advantage and Jersey's tricky
start to life in the Championship, it all points to an easy home
win. On paper. Jersey supporters will be hoping that the reality
ends up being a rather closer contest.
News from the Jersey camp
New signing and former Wales/ Ospreys full-back Barry Davies is in
line to make his Jersey debut, joining fellow new signing Ed
Tellwright, who made his bow in the home game v Moseley last
weekend. This will lead to some changes in the backs, with Director
of Rugby Ben Harvey hoping that centre Dai Bishop may be back in
contention after injury in the opening league game against Cornish
Scrum-half Nicky Griffiths will definitely miss out although the
news on his heavy knock against Moseley is encouraging and he
should feature again in October. Dave McCormack stands by to return
to the squad following his summer sabbatical.
Among the forwards, Talite 'Vee' Vaoileti looks set to return to
the club where he played last season, his appearances restricted to
just nine games following a broken leg sustained exactly a year ago
in a British & Irish Cup games against Leeds. Expect tight
calls at loose-head between Richard Barrington and Sean McCarthy
and at lock between Rob Anderson and Dave Markham. And of the
long-term injured brigade, Paul Rodgers is very close to a comeback
but won't feature this weekend.
Jersey will feature a new half-back pairing in the game at
Mikey Le Bourgeois makes his first start of the season at
fly-half in place of Ross Broadfoot, and will play outside the
experienced Dave McCormack, who replaces Nicky Griffiths.
New signings Barry Davies and Ed Tellwright will also be on
show. Former Wales and Ospreys full-back Davies makes his debut,
while ex-Rotherham flyer Tellwright, unveiled in last Saturday's
home fixture, will join Glenn Bryce in the wing berths. Dai Bishop
returns from injury at centre.
The Jersey pack features another former Titan, the Tongan
international Talite Vaoileti, who spent an injury-plagued 2011/12
season at Clifton Lane. 'Vee' is joined by Fred Silcock in the back
row as the ex-Loughborough Student earns his first start ahead of
Nick Trower. Richard Barrington and Rob Anderson return to the
starting XV in place of Sean McCarthy and Dave Markham.
Jersey squad, sponsored by Locate Jersey and
1 Richard Barrington
2 Steve Boden
3 Ben Evans
4 Nathan Hannay (capt)
5 Rob Anderson
6 Talite Vaoileti
7 Guy Thompson
8 Fred Silcock
9 Dave McCormack
10 Mike Le Bourgeois
11 Glenn Bryce
12 Donovan Sanders
13 Dai Bishop
14 Ed Tellwright
15 Barry Davies
16 Dave Felton
17 Sean McCarthy
18 Dave Markham
19 Kingsley Lang
20 Nick Trower
21 Brendan O'Brien
22 Ashley Maggs
Titans in 2012/13
Like so many clubs in the Championship, there were considerable
changes of personnel at Clifton Lane over the summer.
The range of backs available in the squad includes two returning
players, full-back Mike Whitehead and centre Lee Blackett (both
played for Roth in their most recent Premiership campaign), a pair
of signings from Ireland in the shape of Eamonn Sheridan (Leinster,
wing) and James McKinney (Ulster, fly-half), the prodigious
goal-kicking of Garry Law (250 points last season) and powerhouse
Kiwi centre Pale Nonu. Other summer signings were the Mulchrone
brothers, Charlie and Fergus, from Macclesfield.
In the forwards, watch out for flanker Alex Rieder and prop
Gareth Denman, new signings from Leeds, and another prop,
ex-Moseley man Marshall Gadd, who was one of the players rumoured
to be talking to Jersey over the summer.
Tongan flanker Latu Makaafi will be in the starting line-up to
face his former club. Latu was one of the first two professional
players in Jersey, signing in August 2006 alongside Kern Yates
(above, with DoR Dai Burton) and playing for the Islanders for two
years, including the promotion winning campaign of 2007/08. Since
leaving Jersey he has played for Hull, Wharfedale and Doncaster
before coming to Clifton Lane this summer.
The competitive part of the season with an opening day defeat at
London Scottish, followed by an extraordinary home opener at
Clifton Lane. Titans led 18-13 at the break but a third-quarter
burst from Blues saw them take a seemingly unassailable 35-24 lead.
Blackett narrowed the deficit with a try, Blues added a penalty but
then the home side scored a last-gasp penalty try to share a 'bonus
point draw' at 38 points apiece.
Last weekend the Titans were locked in a close tussle at Meadow
Lane against Notts County, 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.
See below for the confirmed squad. Lee Blackett misses out with
a leg injury, and the captaincy passing to Garry Law.
At scrum half Jimmy Williams returns allowing Joel Gill some
"rest" time. Dan Baines comes back into the fold at hooker for Ted
Stagg, whilst Latu Makaafi also makes his first start for the club,
coming in at open side flanker for Carl Kirwan.
Titans: 15 Mike Whitehead, 14 Eamonn Sheridan, 13 Garry
Law (Capt.), 12 Pale Nonu, 11 Peter Homan, 10 James McKinney, 9
Jimmy Williams, 1 Shane Cahill, 2 Dan Baines, 3 Ross Davies, 4
Neale Patrick, 5 Barney Maddison, 6 Alex Rieder, 7 Latu Makaafi, 8
Replacements: 16 Ted Stagg, 17 Simon Gardiner, 18
Marshall Gadd,19 Dan Sanderson, 20 Carl Kirwan, 21 Mike Doneghan,
22 Joel Gill.
History of Rotherham
Rotherham and local rivals Doncaster are the two clubs in the
Championship who actually had a lower ranking than Jersey when the
RFU leagues came in 25 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 ladder.
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 just 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.
Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from
Rotherham v Jersey through the following channels:
* Live commentary on BBC Jersey, available online and on your
transistor-wireless device, with the show starting at 2pm
* Match report on Channel 103 soon after the final whistle i.e.
just before or just after 5pm
* Preview in Friday's JEP, and full match coverage on Monday
* Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby
The Championship this weekend
Friday - no games
Saturday - London Scottish v Doncaster; Moseley v Plymouth;
Bedford v Nottingham
Sunday - Cornish Pirates v Newcastle; Leeds v Bristol
One of the more unusual promotional tie-ins is that between
Rotherham and a campaign by the local NHS Trust to inspire locals
to take more exercise. The 'Bums Off Seats' campaign is endorsed by
the club and the players have Bums Off Seats logos sited on an
appropriate area of their playing kit.
Local rugby action back on the Islands sees Jersey Athletic
travel to St Jacques in Guernsey on Saturday while Jersey Wanderers
at St Peter at 3pm the same day. 24 hours later HMP La Moye and
Beeches will meet, also at St Peter.
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.