Jersey Reds will start their 2023/24 campaign with a new-look coaching team as they prepare to defend their RFU Championship title, as well as competing in the Premiership Cup for the first time.
Assistant Coach Tom Williams leaves the club today to take up an opportunity with Newcastle Falcons, with a new face joining the squad: former dual-code England international Kyle Eastmond (pictured above).
Williams (32), leaves the Island after four years with the Reds, having formerly played for Cardiff Blues and Scarlets in his native Wales. He made his last appearance as a player in the season-ending match against Cornish Pirates in May 2021 (pictured below) and has since taken responsibility for coaching the Reds’ backs.
The former Welsh Sevens cap will take up the role of Transition Coach with the Falcons, working with the Gallagher Premiership club’s young players as they progress into a professional rugby environment.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon said: “Tom has made a successful transition from player to coach – we’d like to thank him for his contribution to the Reds and wish him all the best for the move to Newcastle.”
Eastmond will be assisting the coaches and playing group over the coming months during the Reds’ continued preparation for the season, including the upcoming Premiership Cup campaign.
Having started his pro career in rugby league with St Helens in 2007, Eastmond made his debut the following year and amassed more than 70 appearances, including four England caps, prior to switching codes and joining top-flight rugby union club Bath in 2011. The 34-year-old featured for both Bath and England (six caps) alongside Rob Webber, now Head Coach with the Reds, and subsequently played for Wasps and Leicester Tigers until he returned briefly to league in 2021.
Biljon said: “Kyle is known for his rugby understanding as a player and we are excited that he’s bringing an extra layer of detail to the group. He’s at the start of his journey into coaching and the players have responded very enthusiastically to working with him during the past couple of weeks.”
After a win over Richmond in their sole pre-season outing, the Reds will play their first competitive match of the season away to London Scottish on Sunday September 10th as part of the opening weekend of the Premiership Cup, in which Championship Clubs are playing for the first time.
A second away match will follow, against Gallagher Premiership side Bath at the Rec on Saturday September 16th, with the game broadcast live on TNT Sports (formerly BT Sport), while the long-awaited home opener at Stade Santander International will see the Reds take on Exeter Chiefs for the first time on Saturday September 23rd (k-o 2pm).
Pictures: Simon Cooper & Rich Chapman
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