Jersey Reds head to Richmond for their first away game in six weeks knowing that there could be a banana skin concealed among the home club’s iconic red, black and gold strip.
The Reds may be nine places higher in the league table than their hosts, but will be aware of recent history that shows that anybody really can beat anybody in the RFU Championship.
The ‘no easy games’ maxim was embodied twice in January, first when Caldy defied a gap of 10 places in taking down league leaders Ealing, and then when bottom-placed London Scottish came within a makeable last-kick penalty of defeating the Reds.
Mindful of the need to show due respect to their hosts, the Reds’ coaching team has selected a strong line-up for the trip to south-west London, at the same time as giving opportunities to some players hungry for game-time.
Seven new faces come into the starting XV as changes to the line-up which began the 36-24 home win over Hartpury last Saturday. Will Brown, the Reds’ leading Championship try-scorer with 10, comes in at wing outside a new centre partnership of Charlie Powell and Jordan Holgate.
Recent signing Ben Burnell earns a first start at flay-half as regular number 10 Russell Bennett is switched to the bench having started 15 of his side’s 16 league matches so far this season.
There’s a change in each row of the pack: Steve Longwell at prop, Tom Everard in for Sean O’Connor in the engine room and Max Argyle continuing his return from injury on Christmas Eve with a start at flanker.
Back five forwards Hallam Chapman and James Scott, plus back three man Ryan Hutler will be among the replacements having each gone several weeks without a game. Hooker James Hadfield will be especially keen to make an impact from the bench against his former club.
The Reds lie six points behind leaders Ealing, with a game in hand, and knowing that they are likely to need a win not to lose ground on the front-runners.
The current season is the eighth in the past two decades when the Reds and Richmond FC have been in the same league. In 2002/03, the Londoners were crowned champions of London 3 South-West (level 7), defeating the Reds 3-32 at St Peter and 30-13 at the Richmond Athletic Ground as part of a run of 83 successive league wins
In 2010/11 it was Jersey who gained promotion, from National Two South; honours between the two sides finished even, with Jersey winning 29-9 at St Peter having lost 25-14 in south-west London.
More recently the clubs have met 10 times in the Championship, with the Reds winning eight of the encounters, including a double last year (20-26 at the RAG and 29-13 at Stade Santander International) and also taking the honours in two Championship Cup games.
Most recently the sides met in Jersey in early December, with the hosts holding a narrow 17-14 lead on the hour but adding three late tries – including Ben Woollett completing a hat-trick – to finish comfortable 34-19 winners.
The Reds will return to their home turf on Saturday April 1st, when the match against Nottingham will kick off at 3pm.
Jersey RFC’s amateur side will also be in action this weekend, with the champions of Hampshire Counties 2 testing themselves in a friendly against visitors from two tiers higher, Oxford Harlequins – Saturday’s match kicks off at 2.30pm.
Jersey Reds squad v Richmond (A) – 2022/23 RFU Championship, game 17/22, The Athletic Ground, Saturday March 25th, k-o 2pm
Brendan Owen; Ben Woollett, Charlie Powell, Jordan Holgate, Will Brown; Ben Burnell, James Elliott.
Huw Owen, Eoghan Clarke, Steve Longwell, Tom Everard, Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, Lewis Wynne (capt), Alun Lawrence.
James Hadfield, Sam Grahamslaw, Adam Nicol, James Scott, Hallam Chapman; James Mitchell, Russell Bennett, Ryan Hutler.
18 May 2023
DoR pays tribute to leaving players after title-winning season