Reds confirm seven new signings ahead of 2023-24 campaign


After the excitement of the recently-concluded 2022/23 season has died down, Jersey Reds are looking to the future and preparing for the defence of their RFU Championship title.

After confirming some departures from the 22/23 squad, the Reds have moved to confirm seven new signings who will arrive on the Island prior to pre-season preparations kicking off in late June.

In positional order, the new signings are:

Dafydd Hughes, hooker

Hughes will take the well-trodden route from south Wales to the Island after seven years as part of the set-up with the Scarlets. The 27-year-old, who was born in Carmarthen and attended Llandovery College, helped Wales under-20s to 6 Nations success in 2016 and went on to make around 40 appearances for the Scarlets. He also featured for Llandovery in the club’s successful march to the 2022/23 Indigo Group Welsh Premiership title.

Pic: Riley Sports Photography

Director of Rugby Harvey Biljon said: “There’ve been some really positive recommendations for Daf from our contacts in Wales and we’ve had some really good discussions with him.

“Hooker has been a position of strength in our squad and we are looking to continue that – I think Daf will really enjoy the chance to play regular rugby and show his leadership skills.”

John Hawkins, lock

Making the move to Jersey after seven years with Bristol Bears, Hawkins is a 26-year-old lock looking to make an impact in the Championship. Born in Dunstable, Bedfordshire, he attended Stowe School, represented England at under-18 level and made around 45 senior appearances during his time with the Bears.

Pic: Rogan Thomson/JMP

Biljon: “John hasn’t had a huge amount of game-time at Bristol and I believe this move offers him the chance to really kick on and do well here. He’s an intelligent player and I think will enjoy his new surroundings in Jersey.”

Joe Peard, lock

A product of Rumney RFC, Peard went to Bassaleg School in his home town of Newport and went through the pathway for the Dragons region before making a cross-regional move to Cardiff in 2022. The 21-year-old won five under-20 caps for Wales and also played in the Indigo Premiership for Ebbw Vale and Cardiff RFC, and hails from a rugby family: his father Mike was captain of Newbridge, while his grandfather Les is a former international referee who officiated at the 1991 Rugby World Cup.

Biljon: “Joe has great potential – he’ll be coming into a competitive area of our squad, but he has the chance to get established as a Reds player and to learn a great deal from the new environment and his new team-mates.”

Ciaran Booth, back row

Born in Stockport in May 2000, Booth attended St Ambrose College and played junior rugby for Manchester RFC prior to joining the Sale Sharks Academy in 2017. As an Irish-qualified player, he won under-20 caps in 2019 and joined Connacht in 2020, graduating to the senior squad in 2022 and making five 1st XV appearances.

Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

Biljon: “Our Head Coach Rob Webber worked with Ciaran at Sale and he comes to us with a reputation as a committed professional who will offer versatility across the back row.”

Thom Smith, back row

Having gained top-flight experience early in his career during his time with Leicester Tigers, 23-year-old Smith has subsequently developed his game in the RFU Championship after making the move to Doncaster Knights in December 2021. The Norwich-born back row man made his Tigers’ debut in the Premiership Cup as an 18-year-old and later captained the Tigers in the same competition.

Biljon: “The fact that Thom captained both Leicester Tigers and Doncaster shows how highly-rated he is – he is someone who conducts himself really well and is clearly excited about making the move to Jersey Reds and being part of the journey we are on.”

Peter Sullivan, back three

The second former Connacht player joining the Reds this summer, Sullivan is a 25-year-old who was born in County Wicklow and attended St Andrew’s College in Dublin and University College Dublin. He has played for Lansdowne since 2017, breaking the club record for tries in a season and also featuring for Ireland at Sevens and under-20 level. He made his Connacht debut in 2020 and made a total of 21 senior appearances for the province in two seasons, scoring seven tries.

Pic: INPHO/James Crombie

Biljon: “Some of the Irish connections in our squad have spoken very highly of Pete and I’m really excited to see what he can achieve here after having some top-quality players ahead of him at Connacht. I know he’s a player who has identified with the way we play and has a real desire to get out on the field and get involved.”

Robin Wedlake, back three

Making the move to Jersey from the south-west of England, where he has played all his previous senior rugby with Redruth, Plymouth Albion and Cornish Pirates, 28-year-old Wedlake has developed a reputation as one of the Championship’s best wingers during his five seasons with the Pirates. The Truro-born flier made around 80 appearances for the Pirates, scoring tries at a rough average of one every two games.

Pic: Brian Tempest

Biljon: “This is a big move for Robin which provides him with the perfect opportunity to hit the re-set button and take on a new challenge – he’s been a stand-out performer in the Championship and we’re really excited to see what he can bring.”

The new signings leave the Reds with a 35-man squad as preparations for pre-season continue.

Jersey Reds 2023/24

Hooker: Eoghan Clarke, Harry Doolan, James Hadfield, Dafydd Hughes

Prop: Sam Grahamslaw, Stevie Longwell, Greg McGrath, Adam Nicol, Huw Owen, Monty Weatherby

Lock: John Hawkins, Sean O’Connor, Joe Peard, James Scott

Back row: Max Argyle, Ciaran Booth, Hal Chapman, Tim Grey, Alun Lawrence, Thom Smith, Lewis Wynne

Scrum-half: James Elliott, James Mitchell, Toby Venner

Fly-half: Russell Bennett, Ben Burnell

Centre: Dan Barnes, Jordan Holgate, Alex McHenry, Charlie Powell (on loan from Bristol Bears)

Back three: Brendan Owen, Peter Sullivan, Scott Van Breda, Robin Wedlake, Ben Woollett





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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