Although March is not yet halfway through and there are precious few signs of spring in the air, the last Championship game of the 2021/22 season at Stade Santander International is about to kick off.
Jersey Reds play host to Nottingham on Saturday at 2.45pm and will be looking to re-establish the fortress reputation of the Stade after two defeats from the first three home games of 2022.
Defeat to the Cornish Pirates at the Mennaye Field in their last game sadly ended Jersey hopes of remaining in the mix for the Championship title, but Harvey Biljon and his players will be keen to end their home league schedule on a high.
The Reds Director of Rugby makes three changes to his starting XV from the line-up which began the Pirates’ fixture, all of them among the back division.
Sam Leeming is recalled to the squad for the first time in six matches and will start at fly-half, with Tom Pittman moving to the bench. Another player who last featured in January – Harry Simmons – returns on the wing, while Jordan Holgate is recalled at centre and Scott Van Breda moves to the bench.
While the starting pack is unchanged, the replacements bench features the welcome return of prop Adam Nicol, 11 months after he was injured while making his Reds’ debut at Doncaster last season.
Visitors Nottingham hosted Richmond in their most recent outing a week ago, with the Londoners going away with a 12-19 win.
The Reds have won 11 of the 17 Championship match-ups between the clubs, with five Nottingham victories and the one draw. The most recent encounter at Stade Santander International was last April, when the Reds celebrated their first home league match for 60 weeks by scoring nine tries and winning 55-12. More recently, the two sides racked up a dozen tries at Lady Bay five weeks ago, with the Reds resisting a comeback from their hosts and finishing 31-41 winners.
The Reds’ Championship schedule will conclude with a trip to Coventry on Saturday March 19th, followed by a home friendly against Scottish Super6 champions Ayrshire Bulls on Saturday March 26th (k-o 3pm). The Championship Cup will be contested during April and May, with the Reds facing a first-round tie against London Scottish over two legs, with the first leg being a 5pm kick-off at Stade Santander International on Saturday April 9th.
Jersey Reds Athletic are also in action this weekend, with an away game against Esher Cardinals, kicking off at 2pm.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Nottingham Rugby (H) – RFU Championship match 19/20, Stade Santander International, Saturday March 12th 2022, k-o 2.45pm
Brendan Owen; Harry Simmons, Dan Barnes, Jordan Holgate, Will Brown; Sam Leeming, James Elliott.
James Flynn, Eoghan Clarke, Steve Longwell, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt), Alun Lawrence.
Harry Doolan, Huw Owen, Adam Nicol, Tom Everard, Tim Grey, James Mitchell, Tom Pittman, Scott Van Breda.
Why not come a chillout in the supporters marquee before the game, A fully stocked bar and food is available, seated and standing tables, on a first come first served basis and a great place to meet the Reds supporters.