Two members of this season's Jersey Reds squad have been named in the Greene King IPA Championship Dream Team.
Jake Woolmore and Jake Armstrong, both of whom are bound for the Aviva Premiership with Bristol next season, were the top-ranked prop forwards after a poll of the Head Coaches/ Directors of Rugby of the 12 Championship clubs.
League Champions Bristol, whose defeat to the Reds in March was the only blemish in 22 league outings, have by far the biggest representation, with seven current players and three summer signings in the XV.
The inclusion of Woolmore and Armstrong (pictured above), both of whom made their 50th and final competitive appearance for the Reds in Saturday's season-ending win at Doncaster, maintains a rich tradition of Jersey players in the Dream Team:
* 2013-14: Jon Brennan. 'The Bear' was part of the Jersey journey from London Three to the Championship and hung up his boots in 2015, much to the relief of opposing front row players
* 2014-15: Sam Lockwood and Harry Williams (pictured below). Tight-head prop Williams earned a move to the Premiership with Exeter Chiefs at the end of that season and was subsequently called up to the England squad for the summer 2017 tour of Argentina where he won the first of his eight caps to date
* 2015-16: Sam Lockwood. The loose-head retained his place after a second great season with the Reds; he was another Premiership-bound player having agreed a deal to join Newcastle Falcons ahead of the 2016/17 season
* 2016-17: Simon Kerrod and Pierce Phillips. Both players moved to Worcester Warriors at the season’s end. Second row Phillips, who had spent three years on the Island, became the first non-prop from Jersey to earn Dream XV selection
Full 2017-18 Dream Team selection:
Prop (loose-head): Jake Woolmore (Jersey Reds). Key member of Jersey’s juggernaut pack and one of the Reds’ three co-captains during the club’s best-ever campaign. Honourable mentions go to James Gibbons (Ealing), Marc Thomas (Yorkshire Carnegie) and Marlen Walker (Cornish Pirates).
Hooker: Jimmy Stevens (Nottingham Rugby). Considered one of the best defensive players in the division and consistently excellent in his set piece work all season. Bedford’s Bristol-bound hooker Tom Lindsay came a close second.
Prop (tight-head): Jake Armstrong (Jersey Reds). Immensely strong tight-head who, like Woolmore, has earned a move to Bristol next season. Cornerstone of the Reds’ pack who was pushed all the way by soon-to-be Bristol team-mate, Lewis Thiede of Ealing Trailfinders.
Lock: Barney Maddison (Ealing Trailfinders). Incredibly hard-working player whose worth to the team knows no bounds. Maddison has all the attributes you want from a second row: he is good in the set piece, carries hard, makes his tackles and has excellent game understanding.
Lock: Chris Vui (Bristol Rugby). Samoa’s captain during their autumn internationals did enough in his seven league starts for Bristol to warrant five votes. An extremely influential player until laid low by a season-ending injury at the end of January.
Flanker: Steven Luatua (Bristol Rugby). Powerhouse All Black who lived up to his big-name reputation. While only captain for three of his 13 starts Luatua’s leadership qualities came to the fore throughout the campaign until injury struck against Jersey. Just shaded Ealing’s Kieran Murphy on the blindside.
Flanker: Dan Thomas (Bristol Rugby). Brilliant breakdown exponent who won a constant supply of turnover ball for his side. Was just as good on the ball as he was over it, providing the link between forwards and backs with his pace around the park.
Number 8: Tom Lawday (Cornish Pirates). Dual registered with Exeter Chiefs, Lawday has been a virtual ever-present for the Pirates this season. Possesses good footwork and agility for such a big man enabling him to find the weak shoulder of an opponent and consistently get over the game line.
Scrum-half: Rhodri Williams (Bristol Rugby). Quicksilver scrum-half whose darting breaks often led to him scoring tries, including a hat-trick against the Reds at Stade Santander in October, or setting up team-mates. The Welshman was pushed all the way by his replacement at Bristol next season, Hartpury College’s Harry Randall. Lee Dickson also came close to making it a family double, brother Karl having been a Dream Team member in 2008/09 while also with Bedford.
Fly-half: Ian Madigan (Bristol Rugby). Got the back line moving at every opportunity with his ability to fire out bullet-like miss-passes. Consistently excellent off the kicking tee too, breaking Jason Strange’s club record for conversions in a league season.
Wing: Dean Adamson (Bedford Blues). Another prolific try-scoring campaign for the fleet-footed Blues flyer who nipped into the side ahead of Kyle Moyle (Pirates) and Jersey Reds' Tom Pincus. With sensational pace, a mean step and impressive control, the 24-year-old struck fear into the heart of defences.
Centre: Michael Le Bourgeois (Bedford Blues). The Blues’ skipper demonstrated sensational leadership qualities on and off the pitch as well as constantly putting his body on the line for the Bedford cause. At the heart of every attack and always willing to put in the big hits, his contribution has been immense. Bagged eight votes.
Centre: Piers O’Conor (Ealing Trailfinders). One of those ‘x-factor’ players who can make something happen out of nothing with his electric pace and elusive running. His ability to break the tackle set up many an Ealing attack. Makes the move from West London to the West Country in the summer.
Wing: Luke Morahan (Bristol Rugby). Natural born finisher who always finds a way over the try line. Reads the game so well and is defensively strong too. Arguably Bristol’s ‘find of the season’. Became only the sixth player in the club’s league history to score four tries in a match when he helped himself to a ‘double-double’ against Doncaster.
Full-back: Jordan Williams (Bristol Rugby). Enjoyed a new lease of life under Pat Lam after a quiet debut season in the Premiership. Bamboozled many an opposition defence with his mesmerising runs from deep. The king of the counterattack joins namesake, Rhodri Williams, in swapping Bristol for Newport Gwent Dragons this summer.
23 Mar 2023
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