Ravers’ reception awaits as Reds head for virgin territory


Jersey Reds head to pastures new this weekend – the pasture in question being Paton Field, home of Caldy RFC.

The Championship new-boys, known as the Ravers and occasionally mis-labelled the Ravens, will host visitors from the deep south in what is a first-ever meeting between the clubs.

The opposing sides have both taken contrasting journeys to the same destination, namely the second tier of the English rugby pyramid. The Reds reached the ‘promised land’ a decade sooner, although both clubs were in level four in 2010/11, separated by the north/south divide in National 2.

While Caldy finished fifth in N2N that season, the Reds were promoted as runners-up from N2S after a play-off win against Loughborough, and 12 months later were Championship-bound after claiming the National 1 title.

Jersey’s National 1 season was also the last time the Reds travelled to the north-west of England, with trips to Fylde, Macclesfield and Sedgley Park in 2011/12 yielding a defeat on the coast near Blackpool and wins in Greater Manchester and Cheshire.

Fast forward 10 years and the two clubs will lock horns at Paton Field, which lies on the Wirral peninsula, a short ferry ride (across the Mersey for those who study geography, and/or popular music) from Liverpool city centre and boasts views of north Wales on a clear day.

The Reds – four from four over the opening month of league action – will hope to maintain their good start to the season against opponents who have racked up seven points in four outings and shown their capability to compete at this level.

The Jersey coaching team shuffle the deck in selection, with their starting XV showing eight changes from the line-up which began the hard-fought 21-10 home win over Cornish Pirates last Friday.

In the front row, Greg McGrath makes a maiden competitive start alongside TJ Harris and Adam Nicol, who is set for his first appearance since an injury at the tail-end of last season. Tom Everard comes in at second row alongside Sean O’Connor, leaving Macauley Cook to drop back and don the number 6 shirt. The Welshman will also skipper the side, packing down alongside Max Argyle and James Dun in the back row.

After impressing as a stand-in fly-half for an hour against the Pirates, James Mitchell reverts to scrum-half, linking up with Tom Pittman at half-back. Wing Will Brown and centre Charlie Powell are the other new faces, joining Tomi Lewis and Jordan Holgate in the threequarters, while full-back Brendan Owen makes his 50th appearance since joining the Reds three years ago.

Two summer signings – flanker Josh Gray and scrum-half Jonny Law – will stand by to make their competitive debuts for the Reds from the bench, while wing Ryan Hutler is set for his first appearance of the season after an injury-enforced absence. Props Monty Weatherby and Sam Grahamslaw, hooker James Hadfield and midfielder Dan Barnes complete the bench.

Although Reds supporters are likely to be heavily outnumbered in the crowd, it is hoped a reasonable crowd of away fans will be at Paton Field, including both a travelling contingent from the Island and those based in the UK and Ireland. Any red-and-white flags spotted in the crowd may either represent Jersey, or Denmark, with Caldy’s supporters club having recently acquired a Copenhagen branch – a group of football supporters attended a game when their original fixture, a scheduled trip to Anfield to watch Liverpool take on Wolverhampton Wanderers, was postponed at short notice, and were quickly converted to the Ravers’ cause.

The Championship will take a well-earned break after the fifth round of the 2022/23 campaign, with the Reds returning to action on their home turf on Friday October 21st, when Doncaster Knights will visit Stade Santander International for a game kicking off at 7.15pm. Advance tickets available via THIS LINK.

Jersey Reds squad v Caldy (A) – 2022/23 RFU Championship game 5/22, Paton Field, Saturday October 8th, k-o 3pm (* = competitive debut)

Starting backs (15-9)
Brendan Owen; Tomi Lewis, Charlie Powell, Jordan Holgate, Will Brown; Tom Pittman, James Mitchell.
Starting forwards (1-8)
Greg McGrath, Antonio ‘TJ’ Harris, Adam Nicol, Tom Everard, Sean O’Connor, Macauley Cook, Max Argyle, James Dun.

Replacements (16-23)
James Hadfield, Sam Grahamslaw, Monty Weatherby, James Scott, Josh Gray*; Jonny Law*, Dan Barnes, Ryan Hutler






12 Oct 2023


Why not come and chillout in the ‘Watering Hole’ before the game? A full-bar and food is available and you can enjoy some live music after the game.

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