Jersey openly ignore Siam rules

JERSEY have broken Siam Cup eligibility rules in selecting four Jersey Reds professionals for tomorrow’s game, even though three of them do not meet the eligibility requirement.

Home-grown Raiders Siam Cup debutant Brad Webb steps forward to receive his official match shirt in a ceremony at the GRFC Clubhouse in the Garenne Stand. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 30158832)
Home-grown Raiders Siam Cup debutant Brad Webb steps forward to receive his official match shirt in a ceremony at the GRFC Clubhouse in the Garenne Stand. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 30158832)

And it has prompted an angry response from the Guernsey camp.

‘From my perspective, I am extremely disappointed,’ said Guernsey Raiders chairwoman Andrea Harris yesterday afternoon.

‘Despite agreements made between the islands, Jersey have decided that they are able to choose how they field a squad, with disregard to our existing agreements.

‘While I am very much looking forward to Saturday, this has created a lot of stress and angst in the Guernsey camp that is unnecessary ahead of what should be the celebration of a wonderful rugby rivalry.’

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The big team news from the sister isle is that homegrown hooker Harry Doolan is set for his Siam Cup debut, while Max Ayling, Will Lane and Bader Pretorius also drop down from Harvey Biljon’s Championship squad.

In recent years Jersey agreed to field only professionals with three years’ residency, to even the playing field of an occasion increasingly dominated by the high-flying Caesarean pros, but Guernsey’s rise has resulted in that rule being unilaterally abandoned by the club from St Peter.

Nonetheless, Ayling and Lane, both 21, have played for Athletic (the Jersey reserve club) this season – as they await their Championship debuts – while Pretorius has just returned from a loan spell with National One side Chinnor.

‘We’ve not gone with eligibility rules this year, but we’ve not gone and loaded the side with professionals who could have played for the first team,’ Landick explained.

‘When those eligibility rules came in Guernsey were an amateur side and Jersey were a lot higher. In recent years we’ve found more of a balance between the two sides. Guernsey are now a semi-pro side at level four and Athletic is classed as a level six side.

‘We’re not going out of our way to put ringers in there left, right and centre. We’ve gone with guys who have been playing for Athletic this season and want to use this as a building block to get into the professional side. One is a Jersey boy and two of them are only 21 and have never played in the Championship.

‘But I don’t want to get caught up in the politics. All I know is the side we’re taking over ... hopefully it will be competitive.’

Tim Corson, who lifted the trophy alongside matchday captain Nick Selway in 2019, is set to lead a Siam Cup side for the first time while George Willmott – man of the match at St Peter 30 months ago – starts at the base of the scrum.

Landick says the experience held by his more senior players, including the likes of Nathan Rogers, could prove key.

‘It will be hostile there,’ he added.

‘We will probably be able to count the number of Jersey supporters on two hands because the flight costs are extortionate and then there’s the overnight stay as well. We know it will be a tough place to go, but if we can get a win or at least come close it will stand us in really good stead for the rest of the season in the league.’

Jersey Reds (1-15): George Thomas, Harry Doolan, Tom Wilson, Euan Spencer, Max Ayling, Ben Alexander, Tim Corson, George Wilmott; Will Lane, Bader Pretorius, Nathan Rogers, Michael Harman, Scott McClurg, Mark Boarer, Charlie Hubert. Replacements: Marc Davies, Andrew Pitcher, Harrison Berresford, Jason Hostey, Bryn Edwards, Max Harrington, Dom Mayo.

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