Jersey Reds face a baptism of fire to start their 2022/23 campaign, taking on Gallagher Premiership champions Leicester Tigers on home turf.
The hosts will have an early chance to test themselves against the visitors, for whom the match will form the climax of a week-long pre-season training camp in Jersey.
Tigers claimed the Premiership crown at Twickenham in June at the climax of a season in which they won 22 of their 26 league matches, including the 15-12 win over Saracens in the final that gave them the title.
For the Reds the match offers a chance to translate two months of pre-season preparation into a match environment, with a number of new signings lined up to play.
Four players will make their debuts in the starting back-line, including the half-back pairing of Jonny Law, the young scrum-half on season-long loan from Tigers, and Russell Bennett. Another loanee, Bristol Bears’ Charlie Powell, lines up at centre with Jordan Holgate, with new signing from Wales Tomi Lewis selected at wing alongside Ryan Hutler and Scott Van Breda taking the full-back berth.
The starting pack features just one debutant as another loan player from Bristol Bears, flanker James Dun, lines up alongside skipper Lewis Wynne and number 8 Alun Lawrence. After his loan spell in 2020/21, James Scott returns as a full-time Red and starts in the second row next to Tom Everard. Huw Owen and TJ Harris start in the front row alongside Monty Weatherby, the prop who impressed during a trial period last season which included featuring in the friendly match against Ayrshire Bulls.
A total of 17 players are lined up to enter the game as replacements, including debuts for front row trio Sam Grahamslaw, Greg McGrath and James Hadfield, lock Hamish Bain, back row man Josh Gray, centre Alex McHenry and wing Ben Woollett.
The pre-season match-up between the sides will be the fourth of its kind in recent seasons, starting in 2012 and 2013, and then the game 12 months ago, which featured the closest scoreline of the three games to date, with the Tigers winning 7-17
The match at Stade Santander International kicks off at 5pm, and is also available to stream via the Reds’ broadcast partner 3Ci Sport via THIS LINK.
Further pre-season tests against Premiership opposition will follow for the Reds as the Island side take on London Irish at Stade Santander International on Saturday August 27th (k-o 3pm) and Bath Rugby, also at home, on Friday September 2nd (k-o 7.15pm). The Championship season will start with a visit to Ampthill on the second weekend of September, followed by the Reds hosting Coventry on Saturday September 17th. Tickets for home games are available via THIS LINK.
Following the separation of the professional and amateur teams in Jersey approved by members over the summer, the amateur Jersey RFC Men’s 1st XV will start their pre-season preparation on home turf with a home game against Oxford Harlequins on Satuday at 3pm, preceded by a match between the touring Effingham Vets side, who will take on a combined Jersey Wanderers/ Royals XV at 1pm.
Jersey Reds squad v Leicester Tigers (H) – 2022/23 pre-season game 1/3, Stade Santander International, Friday August 19th 2022, k-o 5pm (* = debut)
Starting backs (15-9)
Scott Van Breda; Tomi Lewis*, Charlie Powell*, Jordan Holgate, Ryan Hutler; Russell Bennett*, Jonny Law*.
Starting forwards (1-8)
Huw Owen, Antonio ‘TJ’ Harris, Monty Weatherby, Tom Everard, James Scott, James Dun*, Lewis Wynne (capt), Alun Lawrence.
Replacement forwards: Eoghan Clarke, James Hadfield*, Sam Grahamslaw*, Greg McGrath*, Steve Longwell, Hamish Bain*, Josh Gray*, Tim Grey.
Replacement backs: James Mitchell, James Elliott, Brendan Cope, Tom Pittman, Will Brown, Dan Barnes, Alex McHenry*, Ben Woollett*, 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.