Macca, Montego Bay and the Mad Ferret - JRFC head to
With no success against the top sides this season to date, and
11 long weeks since they tasted victory on home soil, it's fair to
say Sedgley Park are like the bar opposite the City of Manchester
Stadium for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Mad Ferret... (try it
quickly in a Noel Gallagher accent)
Motivated Mancunian opposition will mean Jersey could face one
of the stiffest tests of their 16-match winning run, ahead of a
trio of games that look eminently winnable - Blaydon and Cambridge
at home, either side of a trip to Barking. No easy games, of
course, but still...
National One is often, and rightly described, as a league where
anyone can beat anyone, but the Tigers have been an exception to
this rule - one of only two teams in the whole league yet to get a
result against top six opponents. Can anyone name the other? (see
News from the Jersey camp
At Jersey's St Peter ground last Saturday an entire fixture was
moved quarter of a mile to an adjacent pitch with less than half an
hour's notice. This included both teams, officials, assorted media,
various posts and rope to mark out the playing area, and some
rudimentary catering facilities. Oh, and upwards of 2,000
Even those involved thought it was a tough ask, but it all
slotted into place and the referee's whistle started the game as if
he was signalling the departure of the 1500 Express Zug from Geneva
to Zurich. It was one of those sporting collectors' items, like the
number 11 batsman who hits a century, the keeper who scores a goal,
or the day Brian Moore and Kyran Bracken played back row together
Taking part in the only game of last weekend not to fall victim
to the weather, Jersey are match-sharp, albeit nursing a few bumps
and bruises. The result against Stourbridge may have been
convincing, but this didn't mean it wasn't a physical contest.
At least the injury ledger seems to be in the black for DoR Ben
Harvey, with a number of players close to a return to 1st XV
colours. Having said that, few changes are likely to last weekend's
squad, with the returning players perhaps waiting until March 3rd
to be in genuine contention.
One definite absentee will be 17-year-old winger Chris Levesley,
who plays for London & South East in the Under 18 divisional
festival at Broadstreet RFC this weekend, hoping to impress the
England selectors. He takes the best wishes of the club with him.
[see 'stop press' below]
In Chris's absence winger Sam Fuller could get a first start at
this level, while flanker Steve O'Brien and centre Dai Bishop are
possible inclusions after recovering from injury.
Sedgley Park in 2011/12
Sedgley began the season impressively with a 39-24 win at
Cambridge, and followed this up with another bonus-point victory
against Tynedale. The only way was down from this point, and three
successive defeats followed, against Macclesfield, Coventry and
The middle part of the season has been a mixed bag for the
Mancunians: a thumping win against the Bees, a 'Roses' success by a
single point in the Dales (29-28), but also heavy losses to Ealing
(38-8 during the Trailfinders' best form) and a fearful 61-17
gubbing at Tynedale in the last away trip of 2011.
January saw away wins at Cov and Bees, and a home defeat by
Fylde before Blackheath came calling on January 28th.
In a way the two matches against 'Club' have told the story of
the season for the Tigers. In October it was 41-34 to the men from
SE London, a six tries to five thriller. January's game at Park
Lane was equally tight - 15-13 to Sedge at half-time, and a 30-25
lead (including four SP tries) up until the 76th minute. That's
when Club tied things up with a Dave Allen try, and with the last
move the visitors scored a sixth try and snatched victory.
Summer 2011 saw several new faces at the club, notably the
arrival of Henno Venter, a pillar of Jersey's pack last season but
released to pastures new. Henno joined up with a former Coventry
colleague Louis McGowan, joining from Rotherham, and Kiwi
second-row Fraley Hopa, formerly of Biggar and North Harbour. These
recruits joined the core of last season's pack, including another
South African, Juan Crous, and captain Garth Dew in the back row.
Dew is out for the season with a knee injury similar to the one
sustained by Jersey skipper Paul Rodgers in October.
Some useful signings have also made an impact in the backs. Full
back Gregg Smith (ex Liverpool SH) has done much of the
place-kicking this season, with 74 points, neck-and-neck with
Matthew Riley's 75. Other fresh talent from the local area included
Jamie Harrison and Fergus Owens, who scored 13 and 19 tries
respectively for Broughton Park and Vale of Lune last season.
Harrison is top try-scorer so far this season, with 11, just ahead
of centre Michael Dutton's nine. Former Sale man Chris Parrott,
signed from Alghero in Italy, can play both fly half and
Apart from the absent Dew, this is a pretty settled squad for
the most part. Six players have played either 20 or 21 games
including the entire front row of Nick Flynn, Richard Oxley and Dan
Birchall. Lock McGowan and, in the backs, Harrison and Matt Riley,
are the other stalwarts. Even the bench is quite settled, with prop
Ben Black selected 17 times and unused only once, and the former
Nuneaton hooker Scott Wright, another summer recruit, the ultimate
super-sub - 20 appearances from 21 selections.
Coaching Sedgley Park is Richard Senior, a player at the club
for 11 seasons and who in 2011 marked his 40th birthday (definite)
and final appearance in Tigers' colours (probable).
October 22nd 2012, the eve of the World Cup Final and two 'lower
mid-table' sides face off at St Peter in front of a tidy crowd of
1,800, including a sizeable away contingent of approaching 150.
This is how it panned out...
Jersey cruised to an ultimately comfortable victory in a
game that, while not dirty, was marred by six yellow
At one stage in the first half Jersey's 14 men were up
against 12 from Sedgley Park following a bout of fighting that saw
hookers Charlie Clyde-Smith and Richard Oxley carded along with
Park's Adam Lewis.
Visiting skipper Garth Dew had already received an early
yellow for killing the ball and in the second period Steve O'Brien
(Jersey) and Matt Riley (Sedgley) were also ordered from the
Donovan Sanders and James Copsey scored the first half tries
that reflected the home team's dominance in building a 17-0 lead.
Jersey also started the second half strongly, with Copsey crossing
for his second within five minutes.
The visitors' best spell came in the middle of the second
half when prop Nick Flynn and flanker Dew scored tries that
rewarded some strong attacking play, briefly threatening Jersey's
17-year-old debutant Chris Levesley was a lively presence
throughout for Jersey and crossed the line twice in the second half
only to be called back by the referee. But the home team secured
their try bonus point with five minutes to play when Ed Dawson
squeezed over in the corner from replacement Ross Broadfoot's pass.
Mike Le Bourgeois maintained a perfect record with his touchline
conversion, and the final score was 31-10.
Jersey: Copsey, Levesley, Bishop, Sanders, Dawson, Le
Bourgeois, McCormack, Landick, Clyde-Smith, Evans, Hannay,
Brownrigg, O'Brien, Thompson, Bell (capt). Replacements: Brennan,
Kenwright, Trower, Broadfoot, Lang
Sedgley Park: Smith, Dutton, Wainwright, Riley, Harrison,
Kohler, Runciman, Birchall, Oxley, Flynn, Hopa, McGowan, Lewis, Dew
(capt), Crous. Replacements: Black, Wright, Woolley, Urmston,
Sedgley Park - a brief history
Sedgley Park is a district of Manchester about two miles north of
the city centre and here, in 1932 at a public meeting in a
temperance bar, of all places, the club began. The very first
ground was a farmer's field in Whitefield, and the club has never
actually played in Sedgley Park itself.
As a junior club in the days before leagues, Sedgley became a
fixture in the Lancashire rugby union fraternity but then began to
move to bigger things in the 1980s, which saw the opening of a new
clubhouse and the arrival of league rugby. The club were
at Level Eight from 1987-1994, but then began a meteoric
rise that saw them arrive at Level Three by 2001, having been
promoted that year, in tandem with champions Stourbridge, after a
play-off game (of which more anon).
In 2004, Sedg went one better and reached Level Two. For five
seasons the club rubbed shoulders with big names like Harlequins,
Northampton Saints, Bristol, Leeds and London Welsh, before the
reorganisation that created the Championship, a reduced league at
Level Two down from 16 to 12 clubs, saw a return to the third
Last season began badly for the Tigers, with no fewer than three
forwards suffering season-ending injuries before the first league
game had finished. The season was a roller-coaster affair, and at
the end of April 2011 Sedgley occupied one of the relegation spots
in National League One. However the Mancunians had a rearranged
game still to play and delivered a crucial, nail-biting win against
Macclesfield by 26-19 to secure their league status at the expense
of Redruth. Steve Nutt scored a brace of tries.
Notable former players include Cristian Raducanu, the Romanian
who represented his country at the inaugural World Cup, and two
well-known names to Jersey fans - Kern Yates (who played 52
consecutive games in 2003/04) and Dave McCormack.
The most notable game in recent years, certainly that I could
find, was in 2000/01 when Sedgley met Launceston in the same
promotion play-off as Jersey's clash with Loughborough last year -
both teams had been runners-up in their leagues and were seeking a
spot at Level Three.
We thought four weeks was a long time to wait between final
league game and the play-off, but Sedgley Park had a six week gap
until the game at the end of May. I'm not sure why, as Launceston
also had a four-week gap - maybe the County Championship took
precedence in those days?
The Tigers' team that day included Dave McCormack at half-back
alongside the former Welsh international (four caps) Colin
Stephens, who had delayed his honeymoon specially (Jamaica? "Well,
to be fair, I says to her none of the boys would speak to me
Raducanu played lock alongside Paul Arnold, now with Fylde,
while in the back row Kern Yates and Richard Senior packed down on
Stephens managed to keep his mind off Montego Bay and kicked 15
points, while 'Macca' was among the try scorers, and Sedg defeated
the Cornishmen 40-23.
Many of the play-off protagonists, and other former
players, will be gathering to watch this weekend's game, which
should make for a lively atmosphere both during and after the
Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from the game
through the following channels:
• Preview on BBC Radio Jersey's Sportscene from 6-7pm on
Friday, and regular updates on Saturday afternoon (KO is at
• Preview in Friday's JEP, and full match coverage on
• Scoreflashes on @jerseyrfc Twitter and the 'Rolling Maul' rugby
• Match report on Channel 103 on Saturday soon after the final
• Report Sport on Channel TV at 6.15pm on Monday, and online
The Sedgley Park website also has loads of good stuff on it,
including an excellent preview usually published later on Friday or
first thing Saturday.
Further to the earlier quiz: the only other Nat 1 team not to get
a result against a top six club so far this season is Stourbridge.
The loose term 'get a result' covers Blackheath, who haven't beaten
a top six club, but achieved a 27-27 draw with Ealing in
STOP PRESS - Friday 5pm: Chris Levesley scored a try for London
& South-East this afternoon at the Divisional Festival.
L&SE came from behind to defeat the Midlands 34-28, and will
play the South-West on Sunday.
Enjoy your weekend's rugby
07 Dec 2022
Biljon's side seek eighth straight league win this season