Jersey Reds’ final league outing of 2021/22 will take place at the same ground where they made their last away trip of the 2011/12 campaign – a historic day for the club.
It was at Butts Park Arena almost exactly a decade ago that the Reds defeated their hosts Coventry (by 13-37) to seal the National 1 title and promotion to the Championship, where they have been placed ever since.
The stakes are less high this time around, with a final Jersey ranking of fourth looking almost certain, equalling the club’s best-ever league finish. But the Reds will nevertheless want to mark the anniversary and conclude their campaign on a successful note by claiming their 13th win of the season, while Cov could yet conclude a somewhat disappointing season with a mid-table finish if they could achieve victory in their two remaining games.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon stays true to the Jersey XV which began the resounding 48-12 home win over Nottingham last weekend.
The only change to the starting line-up sees on-loan back row man Alun Lawrence miss out through injury, with Tim Grey stepping up after some useful impact off the bench last time out.
Wing Will Brown, the club’s second-highest try-scorer, with nine to his name (behind Eoghan Clarke’s 15), will make his 20th successive start of the season. Clarke is one of five other players, all forwards, who will have featured in - though not started - all 20 league games, the others being Macauley Cook, Sean O’Connor, Max Argyle and skipper Lewis Wynne.
The Jersey bench at Coventry includes the welcome return of hooker TJ Harris, absent through injury since the trip to Ealing in November, alongside fellow comeback kid Adam Nicol, who looked sharp on his return to the fray against Nottingham. Roy Godfrey, Alex Humfrey and Wes White also come in.
The first-known encounters between the clubs came when Cov toured the Island in 1956 and 1960, and after a gap of more than half a century the sides were both members of National 1 in 2011/12, with the Reds winning both games, including the late-season triumph at the Butts.
Since Cov returned to the second tier in 2018 after an eight-season absence, they have had the better of encounters against the Reds. Home-and-away wins for the Blue-and-Whites book-ended the 2018/19 season, while there was also a 10-34 win on Jersey soil last May during the truncated 2020/21 campaign, which had begun with a 34-33 home win for Cov in a pre-season friendly. The Reds have won two league encounters, both at home: the 22-15 win at the start of the 2019/20 season, and last December when Cov battled back from 29-3 down at the break before eventually losing 29-24.
There are also away trips for the Reds’ two other adult sides this weekend: Jersey Reds Athletic at Rosslyn Park on Saturday at 12.30pm and Jersey Reds Women at Hove the following day at 1.30pm.
The next 1st XV games at Stade Santander International will be the friendly against Ayrshire Bulls on Saturday March 26th (k-o 3pm) and the first leg of the Championship Cup tie against London Scottish on Saturday April 9th (k-o 5pm).
As well as the usual live commentary via BBC Jersey, there will be the option to connect to an online stream of the Cov v Reds game via THIS LINK
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Coventry (A) – RFU Championship match 20/20, Butts Park Arena, Saturday March 19th 2022, k-o 4pm
Brendan Owen; Harry Simmons, Dan Barnes, Jordan Holgate, Will Brown; Sam Leeming, James Elliott.
James Flynn, Eoghan Clarke, Steve Longwell, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt), Tim Grey.
TJ Harris, Roy Godfrey, Adam Nicol, Alex Humfrey, Wes White, James Mitchell, Tom Pittman, Scott Van Breda.
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.