After winning the RFU Championship title for the first time in 2022/23, Jersey Reds will start the defence of their title with a home game against Coventry, the third-placed side from last season’s rankings.
Championship fixtures for the new season have been announced today, with the Reds’ home league opener at Stade Santander International taking place on the weekend of October 21st. It will be the third time in six seasons that the Reds have faced ‘Cov’ in the opening round of the league campaign, with the return fixture at Butts Park Arena concluding the regular season in late May.
The Reds’ first away game in the league will be the visit to London Scottish on the final weekend of October, while November’s action includes back-to-back home games against old foes Cornish Pirates and Bedford Blues.
Other highlights include the pre-Christmas visit to the Island by Ealing Trailfinders, who contested the title with the Reds until the final round of last season’s campaign, and a first encounter for 12 years with Cambridge. The ‘Blood & Sand’ won promotion to the Championship from National 1 last month and will visit the Stade on the third weekend of January, before hosting the Reds at Volac Park in early May.
The 2023/24 schedule also includes a two-legged play-off between the winner of this season’s Championship and the side finishing bottom of the Gallagher Premiership.
The later start to the Championship programme follows the pool stages in the Premiership Cup, which will feature Championship sides for the first time this season. Teams are set to play five pool games on consecutive weekends, starting on the weekend of September 9th and concluding on the weekend of October 7th, with fixture details set to be confirmed shortly. The semi-finals and final of the cup will be played on the weekends of 17 February and 16 March respectively.
All fixtures, home and away, are initially listed for ‘weekend of’ dates and could be played on Friday evenings, Saturdays or Sundays – supporters are advised not to make travel arrangements around specific KO times/days prior to these being finalised and confirmed by clubs.
RFU Director of Performance Rugby Conor O’Shea said: “The 2022-23 season finale went down the wire, with only two points ultimately separating the top two teams in the table, showcasing the drama of the Championship, and we can expect more of the same in the upcoming season.
“We’re really pleased to welcome Cambridge, who had a fantastic season in National 1, and will be a great addition to the Championship.”
Championship Clubs Committee Chairman, Simon Halliday, added: “This is a hugely important year for all Championship clubs, and I wish each of them the very best for the coming season.
“As the incoming Chairman I look forward to helping build on the work already done as the English game looks towards the future and a sustainable recovery.”
The first match of the 2023/24 season at Stade Santander International will take place this weekend, when Reds Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon will mark the start of the testimonial that acknowledges his 10th season with the club. A Wasps Legends XV will take on a Channel Islands Veterans side, with the gates open from 12pm and kick-off at 2pm.
w/e 21-Oct COVENTRY RUGBY H
w/e 28-Oct London Scottish A
w/e 04-Nov CORNISH PIRATES H
w/e 18-Nov BEDFORD BLUES H
w/e 25-Nov Caldy A
w/e 02-Dec AMPTHILL H
w/e 16-Dec Doncaster Knights A
w/e 23-Dec EALING T'FINDERS H
w/e 13-Jan Hartpury University A
w/e 20-Jan CAMBRIDGE H
w/e 27-Jan Nottingham A
w/e 03-Feb LONDON SCOTTISH H
w/e 24-Feb Cornish Pirates A
w/e 02-Mar Bedford Blues A
w/e 09-Mar CALDY H
w/e 23-Mar Ampthill A
w/e 06-Apr DONCASTER KNIGHTS H
w/e 13-Apr Ealing Trailfinders A
w/e 20-Apr HARTPURY UNI H
w/e 04-May Cambridge A
w/e 11-May NOTTINGHAM H
w/e 25-May Coventry A
29 Sep 2023
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