Jersey Reds are to take on Russia in Moscow later this month as part of preparations for Rugby World Cup 2019.
The match on Tuesday August 27th represents a massive challenge for the visitors: as the Reds prepare for the forthcoming season in the Greene King IPA Championship, the second tier of the professional game in England, their hosts are getting ready to travel to Japan, where they will face the host nation, Samoa, Ireland and Scotland in Pool A of the forthcoming World Cup.
Known as the Bears, Russia are currently ranked 20 in the World Rugby rankings and will be preparing for their second World Cup, having previously qualified for the 2011 tournament in New Zealand.
Discussions between the Rugby Union of Russia and Jersey Reds were initiated as a result of family connections between Lyn Jones, the former Wales flanker who is Head Coach of the Bears, and his son Luc, a scrum-half who joined the Reds this summer.
Jersey Reds Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon said: “We were very interested in the prospect of a historic fixture for the club straight away, although there were lots of details that needed to be finalised in a short time.
“With a lot of hard work on both sides, and a real will by all involved to make this happen, we have been able to confirm the trip. It’s going to be a massive challenge for our players, but one that we believe will be a great experience for them and play a major part in getting the squad ready for the forthcoming season.”
A party of 36 players and coaches will make the journey to Moscow for a four-day training camp that will culminate in the match at the Slava Stadium on Tuesday August 27th. The Reds hope that there may be an option for supporters back on the Island to follow the game online – details will be shared at a later date should this be possible.
Jersey Reds will play their opening pre-season match on Saturday August 17th against English National 1 opponents Old Elthamians on Saturday August 17th, the same day as Russia will play a World Cup warm-up match against Italy at San Benedetto del Tronto.
On their return from Russia, the Reds will no longer stage the proposed intra-squad trial match on Friday August 30th, but will then focus on the final pre-season contest when Welsh region Scarlets visit the Island on Saturday September 7th.
The first competitive match of the season will see the Reds host Newcastle Falcons for a Championship Cup match at Stade Santander International on Saturday September 21st. The Greene King IPA Championship kicks off three weeks later, with the Reds hosting Coventry on Saturday October 12th.