Jersey Reds will look to deliver a dose of festive cheer to their supporters this weekend, but know that their visitors have previous for spoiling a party on the Island.
Coventry have pulled off two impressive wins at Stade Santander International over the past couple of years and overall have defeated the Reds four times out of five since returning to level two in 2018 after an eight-season absence.
While the Blue-and-Whites ground out an important 15-14 win over Bedford last Saturday, the Reds had an unscheduled weekend off as a result of Covid-19 cases at Nottingham.
The injury-hit Jersey squad has had the chance to regroup, and this week welcomes back Ryan Olowofela, who replaces Harry Simmons on the wing after recovering from a shoulder injury sustained at Ealing three weeks ago. James Elliott will start at scrum-half, while Dan Barnes and Jordan Holgate are paired in the centres.
The pack has a settled look, although Alex Humfrey earns a start in the back row, where Max Argyle moves across to number 8. The Reds’ bench includes two players in line for their competitive debuts: summer signing Max Ayling, and more recent acquisition Tom Everard.
During 2018/19, Cov went seven months and nine matches without a league win before picking up two in eight days, including a 23-36 success at Stade Santander International that ensured a season's double over the Reds.
The opening round of 2019/20 saw a 22-15 win for the Reds on home turf, with the onset of the pandemic preventing the staging of the return fixture, but in May of this year – after a 34-33 home win in a February friendly – Cov gained another impressive result on the Island, winning 10-34 with an amazing four tries by centre Will Butt, who was on loan from Bath at the time.
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 11-37 win at the Butts that sealed the title and promotion to the Championship.
The Reds will play their final home game of the year next weekend, with back-to-back home scheduling seeing London Scottish coming to the Stade on Saturday December 18th for a 3pm kick-off.
Jersey Reds Women will also be in home action this weekend with a game against Hove on Sunday at 2pm.
Jersey Reds 1st XV squad v Coventry Rugby (H) – RFU Championship match 9/20, Stade Santander International, Saturday December 11th 2021, k-o 3pm (* competitive debut)
Brendan Owen; Ryan Olowofela, Dan Barnes, Jordan Holgate, Will Brown; Sam Leeming, James Elliott.
James Flynn, Eoghan Clarke, Steve Longwell, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Alex Humfrey, Lewis Wynne (capt), Max Argyle.
Harry Doolan, Roy Godfrey, Luke Yendle, Tom Everard*, Max Ayling*; James Mitchell, Jack Roberts, Harry Simmons.
23 Mar 2023
January lessons show danger of banana skin in SW London