Good Vibrations, Madagascar and Disgusted of
Good vibes have been coursing through Jersey's rugby veins since
it was announced that new Head Coach Harvey Biljon was heading
across the Channel from Cornwall.
The new man arrived last Sunday and has had a busy week as he
starts work with the players and coaching team. On Thursday night
he addressed a group of members in the clubhouse, outlining what he
had learned so far and his key priorities. The feedback was good,
and there was also warm applause for Steve Boden's work during his
time in interim charge.
Boden is still in charge of coaching and selection this week
while Biljon reviews structures, with the new broom set to take the
reins fully on Monday week in the build-up to the crucial league
match with Rotherham at St Peter on January 25th.
Meanwhile it's back to the British & Irish Cup. Sadly Jersey
have been effectively eliminated from the competition this season,
barring the sort of freak sequence of results that would see
Madagascar lift the World Cup in 2015 (yes they are still in
But the match is one the home side will be very keen to win,
having tasted success just once since seeing off Ayr in the first
round of the B&I in October. Ulster Ravens won narrowly on home
soil in Belfast in October and Jersey have a score to settle.
There's a new Head Coach to impress, a match to be won, a special
ticket offer for members and season ticket holder (see HERE for
details) and a positive zeitgeist to tap into. Let's go to
News from the Jersey Camp
Boden has selected the Jersey squad for this weekend, and at least
the Forwards Coach has the luxury of a relatively full complement
of players, with not too many injuries. Ed Dawson is working hard
to return to fitness after an ankle injury, Aaron Penberthy had the
protective boot removed from his broken leg this week, leaving only
Tom Cooper on the long-term list.
The Islanders will be boosted by an encouraging display against
Championship front-runners London Welsh last weekend. The match
finished 26-33, including a maiden try for full-back Jack Burroughs
(pictured, thanks to Sue Trower, below).
The Jersey squad will be added to this preview at around 11.30am
on Friday. Here it is:
Alex Rae (capt)
David Felton, Nick Selway, James Voss, Rob Anderson, Nicky
Griffiths, Joel Dudley, James Copsey.
Ulster Ravens in the B&I this season
The men from 'Norn Iron', started this season's B&I Cup
campaign with defeat to Cornish Pirates, who grabbed a late try
bonus point in defeating their Irish visitors 34-17.
The following weekend Jersey were the visitors to Ravenhill, and
took an early lead on a wet, breezy night thanks to an early try by
Alex Rae. The hosts fought back to lead 11-5 at the break, and then
21-5 early in the second half, but Jersey rallied with two penalty
tries and had the minor consolation of a losing bonus point, with
the final score 24-19. The match report is HERE.
Back-to-back ties with Ayr in December saw the Scots winning the
first game 41-22 at Millbrae, but then the Ulstermen achieved an
equally emphatic 38-21 home victory.
The Ravens' squad is made up of surplus members of the senior
squad, players from the Ulster Academy - young stars considered to
have the potential to earn international recognition later in their
careers - and some of the top local players in the all-Irish AIB
A try scorer against Jersey was David McIlwaine, who returned to
Ulster this season after a spell at Bristol, while the kicks were
taken by former Rotherham fly-half James McKinney, who faced Jersey
at St Peter in January 2013 and has picked up several caps for the
Ulster senior team this season.
Ulster's forwards could include prop Paddy McAllister, back in
action after a season out recovering from a knee injury, captain
Lewis Stevenson in the second row, and some real talent in the back
row - Conor Joyce played in the Under 20 World Cup for Ireland last
summer, and Frankie Taggart, a product of Whitgift School in South
London who played for Harlequins before moving to the country for
whom he qualifies for on ancestral links.
Ulster Ravens in B&I History
The Ravens have reached the KO stages twice in the four-year
history of the B&I. In 2009/10 the Ulster side won four out of
five group games, but then lost 27-3 away at Munster in the QF.
2010/11 was a season to forget for the Ulstermen, losing four
out of five group games, but the following year they won all four
group games. This led to another meeting with old foes Munster -
this time the game was at home, but the result was the same, the
southerners winning 9-20.
In 2012/13, Pool 1 of the B&I hinged on the two matches
between Bristol and the Ravens. Bristol won 34-28 at the Memorial
Stadium, and completed the double with an 8-12 away triumph that
clinched top spot and a QF place.
Ulster's home ground is Ravenhill, which opened in 1923 and is
currently undergoing a £14.7million refurbishment. Eventually it
will hold 18,000; the capacity is currently 14,000, which has been
achieved several times already this season, most recently for last
night's Heineken Cup tie against Montpellier. The trademark chant
for the home fans is Stand Up for the Ulster Men (SUFTUM for
History of Ulster Rugby
In the amateur Rugby Union era, Ulster enjoyed considerable
success, regularly taking on international sides from the all over
In the early 1980's a number of Ulster players such as Colin
Patterson, David Irwin, Trevor Ringland and Keith Crossan were
selected for the Ireland squad which went on to win the Triple
Crown in 1982 and 1985. In 1984 they defeated Australia at
Ravenhill. Current Ulster Rugby Doctor, David Irwin, captained the
side to a famous 15-13 win.
In 1987 eight players were selected to compete with Ireland in the
Rugby World Cup where they progressed to the quarter finals.
Ulster lifted the Heineken Cup in January 1999, defeating French
side Colomiers, 21-6 in the final at Lansdowne Road. As shown
below, David Humphreys and Mark McCall were in charge of hoisting
In July 2004, Mark McCall, a member of the 1999 team, took over
the reins as Head Coach and in May 2006, Ulster Rugby were crowned
Celtic League champions for the first - and so far only - time.
World Cup winning Springboks Johann Muller and Ruan Pienaar
joined the province in 2011 and played a key role as Ulster reached
the Heineken Cup quarter finals for the first time since 1999,
losing 23-13 to Northampton. The following year, Ulster reached the
knock-out stages for a second successive season. They beat Munster
at Thomond Park in the quarter-final, and then Edinburgh in the
semi-final at the Aviva Stadium, but were then beaten by Leinster
in the final at Twickenham.
Mark Anscombe became the first New Zealander to coach Ulster in
2012: his first season saw Ulster beat Castres in the Heineken Cup
the club's first ever competitive win in France. Ulster
qualified for the quarter-final but lost to a Saracens side coached
by Mark McCall. The Province finished top of the RaboDirect PRO12,
but lost the final of the competition, again to Leinster, last
He may not be the greatest player in Ulster's rugby history - that
might be an honour for Wille John McBride - but Willie Anderson has
a good claim to be the most notorious. The 27-times capped lock was
captaining his country when he led an unprecedented advance on the
New Zealand Haka before an international in Dublin (shown below).
Some people thought this a disrespectful act, but New Zealand's
number 8 Wayne 'Buck' Shelford, the man credited with changing the
pre-match ritual from a variation of Morris Dancing (see HERE if you don't believe me) to its current
incarnation, came to Jersey in November and spoke with admiration
about the way the challenge had been taken up. Either way, these
days the IRB insists on a minimum gap between the two sides, which
is usually empty apart from a camera crew.
Not content with his Haka heroics, Anderson also hit the
headlines when he tried to smuggle an Argentine flag out of a
government building in Buenos Aires during a trip with the Penguins
touring side in 1978. The authorities weren't impressed and he
spent three months in jail before being released. Anderson was also
the cause of another potential diplomatic incident when he faced
French lock Jean Condom in 1985 at Lansdowne Road, and one
spectator unfurled a banner saying 'Our Willie's bigger than your
Willie Anderson's son TJ played against Jersey at St Peter for
Ealing in November.
Following the game
Don't forget that you can keep up-to-speed with news from Jersey v
the Exiles through the following channels:
The B&I this weekend
Don't forget there are eight quarter-final spots and six groups in
the competition this season, so two places are available for the
runners-up with the best record.
Pool 1 is Leinster's for the taking; the Irish side need just a
point from the bizarrely-timed 6pm kick-off in Dublin on Friday
night, but pool 2 is a three-horse race with London Welsh having
the chance to squeeze ahead of Pontypridd and London Scottish by
beating both sides in the next week. Welsh v Ponty is my tie of the
round, and not just for the after-match singing.
Pool 3 is even more interesting with all four sides having a
realistic chance should they garner two wins. Plymouth and Munster
should take maximum points in their Friday games, setting up a
final day shoot-out which could even end up with the official
tie-breaking regulations being required.
Pool 5 could also see a final day shoot-out, the difference
being that the two contenders, Leeds and Bristol will be playing
each other to win the group. The Pirates are the only team
mathematically certain of a QF place before a ball is kicked, and
victory over Ayr should ensure the home tie that is the reward for
the top four qualifiers.
The best runners-up? ooh, tricky one at this stage, but I reckon
they'll come from pools 2, 4 and 5 - the loser of the Ponty/
Welsh tie-breaker after each achieve 21 points from their six
games, another possible tie between Munster and Plymouth on 22 or
23 points, and Bristol with 24 points after a narrow defeat at
Headingley. But whaddooIknow?
Friday January 10
Leinster A v Moseley, KO 18:00
Munster A v Nottingham Rugby, KO 19:30
Plymouth Albion v Stirling, KO 19:45
Saturday January 11
London Welsh v Pontypridd, KO 14:00
Edinburgh Academicals v London Scottish, KO 14:00
Rotherham Titans v Connacht Eagles, KO 14:00
Cross Keys v Ealing Trailfinders, KO 15:00
Llanelli v Bedford Blues, KO 15:00
Gala v Leeds Carnegie, KO 15:00
Jersey v Ulster Ravens, KO 15:00
Sunday January 12
Bristol Rugby v Aberavon, KO 15:00
Cornish Pirates v Ayr, KO 15:00
Well done to our Guernsey neighbours, who last week ended the last
unbeaten record in the National Leagues, beaten Dorking 8-6 in
National Three SE. This week the Sarnians travel to play the team
in second place, Old Elthamians.
In other local rugby, our friends are on another Jersey tour,
playing Beeches at Grainville at 11.30am on Saturday. LQ against
Panthers on the same day has been moved to March 8th, but there's a
game of interest on Sunday when Jersey Colts travel to Basingstoke.
And there is an tempting fixture on home soil on Sunday - Jersey's
Under 14s take on Guernsey at St Peter (KO 12noon on pitch 4) in a
game that may well decide the Sussex league title - support for the
young Island talent would make a big difference.
Great to see ex-Jersey Coach Colin Cook over the festive season
and learn about one of Jersey's current internationals, former 1st
XV player Matt Cook. Matt is still playing for Spain, who he has
represented internationally since qualifying on residence, and for
whom he has now won 22 caps.
Matt now has a player-coaching role at Tunbridge Wells, who play
in London Two South-East. He's 36 in May, but you never know - he's
not quite ready to be 'Disgusted of Tunbridge Wells', writing
letters to the Daily Telegraph, and there might still a
fairytale ending to the career in prospect at the 2015 World Cup,
where current Jersey hooker Elvis Taione and Jersey Athletic
skipper Kingsley Lang also hope to feature for Tonga and Zimbabwe
respectively. All we need now is for Stuart Lancaster to bring back
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.