Jersey Reds are preparing to host what's expected to be the largest-ever contingent of away supporters to visit the Island this weekend. Unbeaten league leaders London Irish will take on the Reds at St Peter this Saturday (kick-off 3pm) and the home club anticipate their biggest attendance of the season - as long as home supporters match the visiting numbers.
Almost 900 advance tickets have been sold via the Reds' online ticket platform, and it's believed that the vast majority of these pre-sales have been to visiting supporters.
"It's conceivable that we could have up to 1,000 visiting supporters this weekend, which is a fantastic prospect," said Reds Chairman Mark Morgan. "But we don't want this to feel like a home fixture for London Irish, and we hope the Island will respond by turning out to cheer on the Reds - if you're going to attend one fixture this season, this is it!"
The home club have made a number of enhancements to the match-day facilities at St Peter in order to cater for a large crowd. A large marquee will host more than 500 people for pre-match lunch, and after the game will convert to one of the largest bars ever seen on the Island, with multiple Guinness outlets, live music, Irish stew and a Q&A session with players and coaches from both sides.
"We know that Irish have set the mark for biggest crowds of the season at most of their away games this season, and Jersey looks to be one of the most attractive trips," added the Chairman. "If they achieve their aim of promotion back to the Premiership, they won't be back next season, so we're seeking to make it a memorable day. We've been planning for this weekend all season, and believe the extra facilities, especially the marquee, will help create a fantastic atmosphere."
The host club have been working with Liberty Bus to ensure spectators can get to and from St Peter, and there will also be additional free car parking on site. Traffic on the approach roads is expected to be busy, and those coming by car are advised to allow extra time for their journey.
Although collation of visitor numbers is difficult to calculate precisely, it is believed that the visit in March 2015 by Worcester Warriors brought the largest volume of travelling support to Jersey, with an estimated 800 supporters making the trip. The Reds will be hoping the match follows a similar course - Worcester were unbeaten across the first seven months of the 2014/15 season but went down 24-21 after an exciting match. The match attracted 2,909 spectators, but the Championship record at St Peter is 3,154 for the relegation showdown with Doncaster Knights in April 2013.
Tickets for the game are available via the Eventbrite site, costing £20 for non-members, £12 for members and £7 for students on production of the appropriate ID. A guide for visitors to Jersey Reds is available elsewhere on the club website (click on text or pic below for link).
Why not get yourself a Hot Pot (Curry or Chilli served with rice) in the supporters marquee £8 per pot.