The Siam Cup returns to Jersey on Saturday 6 May, 2023
This year is marked as extra special for the Jersey Rugby Football Club (Jersey RFC), as it is the first year they play in this coming Saturday’s Siam Cup under their not-so-new brand, ‘Jersey RFC’. For the first time since 2016, Jersey RFC competes with its local team, having decided during the 2021/22 season to split the JRFC membership from Jersey Reds, the professional team.
The Siam Cup returns to Jersey soil for the 103rd match, established in 1920. The Siam Cup is the second oldest rugby trophy in the world (2nd to the Calcutta Cup), and its existence is steeped with an interesting and chequered history.
The trophy itself is a large circular rose bowl made from the coinage of Siam ticals and required the permission of King Rama VI to melt the coins down. The King not only permitted it, but he also had the trophy created within the Royal Crown Silversmith.
It is beautifully decorated in traditional Siamese style, with figures of dancing girls and elephant heads. It stands on an ebony base and is engraved with the cup winner's names, dating back to 1920.
The Cup was brought to the Channel Islands by Lieut. Colonel C H Forty, an officer based in Siam with the Durham Light Infantry. A fellow officer in his regiment was the son of the King of Siam. He was befriended by Forty and his fellow officers, and on eventually becoming King, he presented the cup to Forty and his fellow officers as a token of their friendship.
Forty donated the cup to the islands to be played for annually between Victoria College in Jersey and Elizabeth College in Guernsey. When the two colleges no longer played rugby, it was decided that the cup should be contested between the two island rugby clubs each season, thus began the annual 'battle' for the Siam Cup.
The Siam Cup involves a competition between Jersey and Guernsey in the following categories; men’s first, women's, veterans and the Fallaize (Jersey and Guernsey men’s second team). The four matches are played in the order of veterans, women’s, men’s first and finally, Fallaize.
Each year welcomes around 3,000 supporters to each stadium, with several hundred taking a boat or plane to support their respective team on their away match.
Traditionally, Jersey has been the dominant side with 60 wins compared to Guernsey’s 17. Still, for the past five years, Guernsey has stepped up and become a formidable contender for the Jersey side. This was seen most recently in last year’s Siam Cup when the Guernsey Raiders annihilated Jersey in two Siam cups played a week apart.
COVID forced the cancellation of the 2021 and 2022 games. So to rectify these absences, both teams were asked to compete in two Siam cups a week apart. Their first game was a win for Guernsey at 62-26, played in Jersey, and the second Siam to replace the 2022 game was played in Guernsey, with the home team scoring an incredible 52-0.
One factor that contributed to Jersey’s failure to score even one try was a lack of depth in the squad. With three of their key players having encountered injuries in the first match, the Jersey team were at a disadvantage before even beginning to play the following week. This lack of depth was felt none more acutely than in the front row, with all three front rowers forced to play the full 80 minutes, which is rare at any level of the game.
Regarding league placings, Guernsey Raiders compete in the fourth tier of English Rugby, while Jersey has, this year, been promoted from Level Seven to Level Six.
While Jersey is positioned two levels below Guernsey, many might regard this team as the underdog. However, they have been training hard to ensure no repeat of last year’s performance. This year, Jersey’s side is bolstered thanks to two key new additions: former Jersey Reds players who have now retired from the professional side; Jack McFarlane and Roy Godfrey, who will both play in the front row.
SaSo Strategic Advisers is immensely proud to share that its Financial Adviser, Euan Spencer, will play in the second row at this year’s Siam Cup. It will be his seventh time playing in the Siam fixture.
Euan began playing rugby at the tender age and four, and while Euan showed, in his own words, little promise for the game in his early years of playing, it wasn’t until he hit fifteen that he began to grow in strength and stature that he began to shine. At that time, he was noticed by Head Coach Myles Landick and was eventually offered the opportunity to play for what was then known as Jersey Athletic (the team that now competes as Jersey) at seventeen.
SaSo is looking forward to a fantastic rugby spectacle in all of Saturday’s matches. We wish both teams well and look forward to seeing whether Euan and his teammates can win back the Siam Cup!