With the 2019/20 season approaching the halfway mark, Jersey Reds are already looking to the future and have begun building their squad for next season.
Four forwards make up the first tranche of current players who have agreed new deals and will remain on the Island for the 2020/21 season: Rory Bartle, Jake Upfield, Josh Bainbridge and Dan Richardson.
Bartle, 23, will be back for a fourth season with the Reds, having joined from London Scottish in summer 2017. The former Wales under 20 cap, who can play in the second row or back row, has made more than 60 competitive appearances over the past two-and-a-half seasons.
24-year-old Upfield was also a member of the 2017 intake. The back row man, who joined from Bond University in his native Queensland in Australia, has developed into a regular member of the match-day squad, making around 40 appearances so far.
Bainbridge, another back row player, is in his first season with the Reds after joining from Yorkshire Carnegie last summer. The 23-year-old has featured in all but one of his club’s 14 competitive matches so far this season and through his strong leadership qualities has been named captain on several occasions.
Richardson, 23, has yet to feature for the Reds since signing from Rotherham Titans last summer, having unfortunately suffered a foot injury in pre-season. But the prop has battled his way back to fitness and will be aiming to become a regular member of the match-day squad later this season and on his return this summer.
Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon said: “I’m really pleased to have the first group of players confirmed for next season. There’s still a huge amount of rugby to be played this season, but we also need to have an eye on the future.
“Rory and Jake have become senior members of the squad in spite of both being under 25, and I think they have the potential to evolve their games further.
“Josh has shown great ability on the pitch and quickly established himself as a member of our leadership group – he is a player who should continue to develop.
“Dan has been very unlucky with his injury, but his attitude has been first-class and we look forward to seeing him contribute on the pitch later in the season.”
Further announcements will be made in the coming weeks, but for the time being the Reds are focusing on their first home game of 2020, a massive challenge as Cornish Pirates, currently second in the Greene King IPA Championship table, travel to take on the fourth-placed Reds. Kick-off at Stade Santander International will be at 2pm. Advance tickets are available via the jerseyreds.je website, with early bird rates applicable until 2pm on Thursday.