Jersey Reds have made the first move to finalising the club’s 1st XV line-up for next season by confirming which players from the current squad will be back for another campaign when rugby resumes.
In common with other rugby clubs at all levels of the English system from the Greene King IPA Championship downwards, the Reds’ season was cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
Having last been in action against league leader Newcastle Falcons on February 29th, the Reds’ players were stood down during March when the Rugby Football Union confirmed the season had come to a premature end.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon said it had been an unsatisfactory way to finish the season, especially with a significant proportion of the squad moving on.
“While we fully support the decision, which was the only viable option in the circumstances, it was a real shame to see rugby suddenly stop two months early,” he said. “We were looking forward to a strong finish to the season and to have the chance to say a proper farewell to those who are moving on.
“Everyone in the squad has made an important contribution this season and we’d like to wish all those departing the best in the next stage of their rugby career, or in life away from the game for those who won’t be continuing with professional rugby.”
Biljon added that he was pleased to have 15 members of the existing squad confirmed for 2020-21.
The players who have agreed new deals or whose existing contracts stretch into 2021 are:
Hooker: TJ Harris, Jack Macfarlane
Prop: Zei Alexis, Dan Richardson, Roy Godfrey
Lock and back row: Max Argyle, Josh Bainbridge, Rory Bartle, Kyle Hatherell, Jake Upfield
Fly-half: Brendan Cope
Centre: Apakuki Ma’afu, George Spencer
Wing and full-back: Brendan Owen, Tom Williams
Confirmation of those members of the squad who will be back next season comes at the same time as the club bids farewell to players who won’t be involved going forward. The leavers are:
Prop: Leeroy Atalifo, Alec Clarey, Harry Morley, James Wayland
Lock: Charlie Beckett, Liam Hallam-Eames
Back row: Conor Joyce, Janco Venter, George Willmott
Scrum-half: Will Homer, Liam Howley
Fly-half: Aaron Penberthy, Greg Dyer
Centre: Mark Best, Rodney Iona, James Newey
Wing: Auguy Slowik, Jack Stapley, Leroy Van Dam
Two loan signings also departed after spending the majority of the season with the Reds: Sale Sharks’ hooker Nic Dolly and Gloucester wing Alex Morgan.
Having previously confirmed that former England hooker Rob Webber will be the club’s new Forwards Coach, the Reds expect to announce new playing recruits to the 2020-21 squad in the coming weeks.
Biljon added: “Although we have been in an extended period when we are unable to play or train as a group, all the players are being provided with personal training programmes in order to maintain their fitness, and we hope next season’s squad will be able to convene in July and prepare for rugby to resume.”
A video compilation regarding the departing players is available via THIS LINK