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Reds refute talk of Siam payment

Sport | Published:

GUERNSEY and Jersey are again at odds over who should qualify for the Siam Cup.

Luke Jones scores a try in Guernsey's Siam Cup win at Footes Lane last year. (Picture by Martin Gray, 24550570)

The two islands go head to head on Saturday week but talks to make the game purely amateur, in the wishes of the family of the trophy’s instigator, failed to come to an agreement.

Guernsey Rugby Club chairman Charles McHugh, who wants a wholly amateur clash, is not happy.

‘I had a meeting with Cliff Chipperfield, president of Jersey Rugby Club, to discuss the eligibility for the Siam Cup and he insisting on five full-time professionals being able to play in this year’s game. We disagree with that.

‘Last year two professionals took to the field and we don’t see there is a need for any full-time professional players to be participating.’

Jersey fielded two in the 2018 game at Footes Lane, a game Guernsey won 46-30, those being the only two pros being available.

But, as McHugh understands, they played only after being guaranteed a fee.

Although Guernsey signed up to the eligibility agreement for last year, it was reluctantly and McHugh had expressed an expectation of further tightening.

As it happens, Jersey could not fill their five pro slots in 2018 but McHugh understands that to ensure that did not happen again Jersey Reds pros have changed their contract arrangements.

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Jersey Reds officials have responded robustly and criticised what they see as off-field ‘tactics’ deployed by Guernsey on the eligibility and alleged paying of players.

Reds president Cliff Chipperfield has strongly disputed McHugh’s understanding.

‘All of our players are contracted until the end of May and they play when we want them to, league or cup’ he said.

‘If they meet the eligibility criteria, which were agreed by Guernsey, then they’re fine to play in the Siam Cup, but there is nothing in the contracts that refers specifically to a particular game.

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‘We also totally deny that the boys were paid last year and I find it disappointing and sad that Charlie has chosen tactics such as these in the lead up to the biggest game of the year.

‘He did not mention these two things to me in the privacy of two meetings we’ve had this year. Instead he’s decided to go to the media ... I left those meetings feeling as though we had an accord.’

Chipperfield added: ‘We changed the regulations three years ago and since then the Siam has been very close. We won in 2016, they won last year and in 2017 it should have been a draw, had Guernsey got that late conversion.

‘On that record, I don’t see why there should be any change.’

Seven of Jersey’s current professional squad are eligible under the three-year residency rule – Nick Selway, Apakuki Ma’afu, Aaron Penberthy, George Eastwell, Jack Macfarlane, Max Argyle and Dave Mckern. However, injuries and contracts with new clubs are likely to come into play.

  • More in Wednesday's Guernsey Press.
Rob Batiste

By Rob Batiste
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