Jersey Reds will aim to be ready for their 2022/23 RFU Championship campaign next week… but ahead of that the Island side face another stiff test against top-flight opponents.
Bath Rugby will be the visitors to Stade Santander International for a game under the Friday Night Lights, the third Gallagher Premiership side in 15 days to enjoy an offshore hit-out as part of their pre-season preparations.
The home side have confirmed a 31-man squad for the game, with Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon pledging to give an equal ration of game time to all his fit players. The Reds previously faced Leicester Tigers, losing 26-35, and last Saturday came desperately close to parity against London Irish, denied a draw only when a last-kick conversion was narrowly off-target, leaving the final score 29-31.
Changes to the home line-up see first starts of pre-season for front rowers Eoghan Clarke and Steve Longwell, plus half-backs James Elliott and Brendan Cope, as well as a debut for Hamish Bain after the second row was forced out of the Tigers’ game following a knock to the head during the warm-up. Backs Will Brown and Dan Barnes will miss the game after injuries against London Irish, but should be back in contention within weeks. In a late change on the morning of the match, hooker Eoghan Clarke has been ruled out, with TJ Harris coming in to the starting XV.
Match tickets are available to purchase in advance via THIS LINK. The game will also be streamed live by the Reds’ media partner 3Ci Sport, accessible via this link: 3cinternational.com/jersey-reds-live-streams
One of the most recognisable and decorated clubs in the English game, Bath come to Jersey during the early stages of a rebuilding process that has followed a challenging 2021/22 campaign.
With just five wins and a draw from their 24 matches in the Gallagher Premiership, Bath finished bottom of the table, a point behind Worcester Warriors and level with Newcastle Falcons, who registered one more victory.
The summer has seen a number of changes, including to the coaching team, with Johann van Graan and JP Ferreira arriving from Munster as Head of Rugby and Defence Coach respectively, while former player Joe Maddock was appointed as Attack Coach and Stuart Hooper switched from Director of Rugby to General Manager.
On the playing front, new signings have included Piers Francis and JJ Tonks from Northampton Saints, Niall Annett and GJ Van Velze from Worcester Warriors, Dave Attwood from Bristol Bears and Matt Gallagher from Munster. Another addition was back row man Wes White, the latest Jersey Reds ‘graduate’ to make the step up to the top flight.
The new faces come in as a number of other players headed to pastures new, including Anthony Watson, Semesa Rokoduguni, Danny Cipriani and Talupe Faletau.
The current squad includes exciting youngsters with renowned Bath family pedigrees such as Tom De Glanville – son of Phil – and Max Ojomoh – son of Steve – as well as England players such as Jonathan Joseph, Will Stuart, Beno Obano, Sam Underhill and Ben Spencer.
The new look side began the season last weekend with a 7-38 win against Coventry in a match hosted by Broadstreet RFC.
Bath’s golden era came during the period 1984-98, when they lifted the English domestic cup on 10 occasions, were league champions six times and won the Heineken European Cup in 1998. Silverware has been harder to come by in recent years, although the men from the Recreation Ground were winners of the European Challenge Cup in 2008 and runners-up in the Premiership in 2014/15.
The latter season also saw Bath’s previous trip to Jersey, when a pre-season match finished 10-34 in the visitors’ favour: Joseph, the lone survivor as a player between the two games, scored two of the visitors’ tries, with others claimed by Rokoduguni, Olly Woodburn and Leroy Houston, and Gavin Henson adding three conversions and a penalty. The home points were split between Nick Haining, who scored a try, and Aaron Penberthy – who landed two successful place-kicks.
The Reds will start their 2022/23 Championship campaign away to Ampthill on Saturday September 10th before hosting Coventry at the Stade a week later.
Jersey Reds squad v Bath Rugby (H) – 2022/23 pre-season game 3/3, Stade Santander International, Friday September 2nd, k-o 7.15pm (* = debut)
Starting backs (15-9)
Scott Van Breda; Ben Woollett, Alex McHenry, Jordan Holgate, Tomi Lewis; Brendan Cope, James Elliott.
Starting forwards (1-8)
Sam Grahamslaw, Antonio 'TJ' Harris, Steve Longwell, Hamish Bain*, Macauley Cook, James Dun, Lewis Wynne (capt), Max Argyle.
Replacement forwards: James Hadfield, Huw Owen, Greg McGrath, Monty Weatherby, Tom Everard, James Scott, Josh Gray, Alun Lawrence.
Replacement backs: James Mitchell, Jonny Law, Tom Pittman, Russell Bennett, Charlie Powell, Ryan Hutler, Brendan Owen.
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.