Jersey RFC Season Round Up
Following on from the 42-26 victory against Guernsey Raiders in The Siam Cup earlier this month, this capped off a successful season for Jersey Rugby Football Club (Jersey RFC) following re-entry into the English league system, having previously played in a merit league for Level Two, Three & Four, second teams.
Playing in merit leagues offers fantastic opportunities to play more able players, as you often see players from the Championship (Level Two in the English rugby league system) moving down to the second team to allow them time to rest and return to fitness. For Jersey, this allowed them to play against some hard-hitting, high-level, semi-professional rugby players.
Formerly known as the Jersey Reds Athletic (effectively the Jersey Reds' second team), the team is now called Jersey RFC, the name the current professional side used to use before they became the Jersey Reds in 2016.
In the 2021/22 season, the Jersey RFC membership approved splitting the Jersey Reds from Jersey RFC, with the Reds remaining in the Championship, which they have just won.
Jersey RFC entered the Counties 1 Hampshire League (Level Seven), the highest level the team could enter according to the RFU (English rugby’s governing body). It has mirrored Jersey Reds’ success this season, winning all their games.
Jersey’s winning streak hasn’t remained unnoticed, with the team achieving joint 2nd highest points away from home and the 4th most tries scored in the English league system across all levels.
Despite such positive results, the season has been challenging. Four matches were called off because opponent teams could not field a side (three home and one away walkover) to travel to Jersey to play. This meant that the Jersey team only played eighteen out of twenty-two fixtures scheduled for the Counties 1 Hampshire League, with one postponement never being re-arranged place hence Jersey RFC only showing as 21 games played with every other team on 22.
Being unable to play a full suite of games can impact the team's overall strength. But to combat this loss, they agreed to schedule a couple of friendly matches against Cinderford (winning 33-24) and Caldy 2nd XV (losing their only match all season 17-22).
Having games called off at the last minute can also have a massive financial impact on the Club. As a condition of their entry into the English leagues, Jersey must pay for the travel of its opponent players to play on the Island. If the opposing team decides at the last minute not to play, there is no refund or compensation for the travel costs already incurred.
Now that Jersey has been promoted to Level Six (recently confirmed as the Regional 2 South Central League), it looks forward to stronger challenges. And while the standard will undoubtedly be higher, Jersey hopes to continue its promotion streak and move into Level Five as soon as possible.
Guernsey’s team, the Guernsey Raiders, is currently positioned in National 2 East (Level Four), so if the Jersey team can achieve Level Five status, it will be only one level away from competing more regularly with its sister island.
What’s particularly pertinent is that Jersey Reds took this exact journey travelling up the levels, starting at Level Seven and quickly achieving promotion five times in six years after spending ten years in the Championship. The Reds won the league this year (the highest league position the team can ever achieve without owning a stadium housing 10,000 supporters!)
Jersey hopes to emulate much of the Jersey Reds’ initial journey and ultimately travel up the leagues to play at the same level as the Guernsey Raiders.
In March this year, SaSo Strategic Advisers, as proud sponsors and supporters of the Jersey Rugby Football Club, were offered the opportunity to be match day sponsors for the Jersey RFC home fixture against Winchester. A strongly contended match, with Winchester the closest competition to Jersey in the league this season, finished 23-13 on the day.
As part of the match day sponsorship package, SaSo was invited to host two tables for a three-course lunch in the Club House and to enjoy watching the match from the Club House’s balcony. As an added touch, SaSo also gifted their tables’ guests a branded woollen scarf with SaSo and the Jersey RFC’s logos embroidered on the scarf.
When we were choosing SaSo’s brand colours of gold and black, little did we realise at the time of ordering the scarves that these colours were Winchester’s team colours! So, on the face of it, it looked as if we had two tables of Winchester supporters enjoying lunch and the game in the Jersey Club House!
The humour was thankfully not lost on the Jersey crowd, nor was it on the Winchester Club’s Chairman, who graciously accepted one of the SaSo scarves. We understand that the scarf has now taken pride in place on the Winchester’s Club House wall.
The Winchester match was probably Jersey’s toughest game of the season, made even more demanding thanks to a spell of thick, impenetrable fog that descended on the pitch for most of the match.
Moving to current times and going into Level Six, Jersey have recently faced its most formidable challenge to date, defeating the Guernsey Raiders (who, as previously mentioned, compete two leagues higher in Level Four) 42-26 on Saturday, 6 May 2023 in The Siam Cup. This stands them in good stead as they look forward to the forthcoming season in the Regional 2 South Central League (Level Six).