Jersey Reds will be chomping at the bit to start their Championship season when they take on London Scottish at the Athletic Ground in Richmond.
The two sides are renewing a nine-year rivalry in England’s second tier after a pause last season as the Exiles did not participate in the truncated 2020/21 campaign.
A trio of pre-season games has given the Reds some tough tests going into the league opener, with Harvey Biljon’s men having faced a brace of Gallagher Premiership sides in Leicester Tigers and Sale Sharks, as well as French Pro D2 side Vannes (click for match reports).
Director of Rugby Biljon selects five of the players who made the move to the Island this summer, including the return of Guy Thompson eight years after his last Championship game for Jersey.
Thompson will pack down in the back row alongside skipper Lewis Wynne (formerly of London Scottish) and Max Argyle, while Sean O’Connor will partner Macauley Cook in the second row. James Flynn will make his league debut in the front row alongside fellow prop Ciaran Parker and hooker Eoghan Clarke.
With injuries among his fly-halves, Brendan Owen – better known as a back-three player – will wear the number 10 shirt, partnering James Elliott at half-back.
Three players among the outside backs are selected for league debuts: wings Ryan Olowofela and Will Brown and centre Jordan Holgate. Holgate partners Dan Barnes in midfield, while the XV is completed by Scott Van Breda, now a full-time Red again following last season’s loan spell from Worcester Warriors.
Four new signings are in line for their league debuts from the bench, including prop Steven Longwell, signed this week from Watsonian’s in Scotland, back row men Alex Humfrey and Wesley White and scrum-half James Mitchell.
The Jersey replacements are completed with four familiar faces from recent seasons: hooker Jack Macfarlane and prop Roy Godfrey kick off their sixth and fifth Championship campaigns respectively as Reds players, alongside 2020 signings Zak Farrance (lock) and Jack Roberts (centre).
The two sides met once in the 2019/20 season prior to the onset of the Covid pandemic, with the Exiles edging a tight pre-Christmas encounter at Stade Santander International by 10-13. Overall the Scots have won nine of the 15 league encounters between the sides since 2012, although the Reds have had the upper hand in cup encounters, winning all four to date.
Following the trip to London, the Reds will prepare for their home opener at Stade Santander with Bedford Blue the visitors for a match kicking off at 2.30pm on Saturday September 25th.
Jersey Reds Athletic will also be in action this weekend, taking on the Royals in a friendly match at Grainville on Sunday (kick-off 1pm).
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v London Scottish (A) – RFU Championship, Round 1/20, Athletic Ground, Richmond, Saturday September 18th 2021, k-o 2.15pm
Scott Van Breda; Ryan Olowofela*, Jordan Holgate*, Dan Barnes, Will Brown*; Brendan Owen, James Elliott; James Flynn*, Eoghan Clarke, Ciaran Parker, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt), Guy Thompson.
Jack Macfarlane, Roy Godfrey, Steven Longwell*, Zak Farrance, Alex Humfrey*, Wesley White*, James Mitchell*, Jack Roberts.