Guernsey Press

Tougher competition awaits Raiders

RAIDERS are bracing themselves for an even tougher National Two East campaign next season.

(Picture by Martin Gray,

The RFU have released the league compositions for 2023-24 and Guernsey, who finished ninth last term, will be renewing acquaintances with some familiar foes who are returning to level four with Esher’s stay in National One lasting just one season while Westcombe Park and Wimbledon earned promotions from Regional South-East and South-Central respectively.

Those three clubs replace last year’s champions Blackheath and relegated sides Rochford Hundred and Westcliff in the division.

‘It’s definitely got tougher, a lot tougher,’ said Guernsey director of rugby Jordan Reynolds.

‘Westcombe Park are back in the rise and Wimbledon are a big club who have be unfortunate for many years in not getting promotion until now, so they are going to be really good sides. They won their leagues pretty easily and they will have that added excitement of being up a level.

‘As for Esher, National One is a big step up – much bigger than going from National Three to Two – but they still picked up nine wins and they have still got their No 10 [Sam Morley] who was named fly-half of the season in National One, so they will be very strong again.’

Following their unbeaten league campaign last season, St Jacques Vikings’ promotion to Counties Two Hampshire has been confirmed and they will be coming up against some new opposition, but Reynolds expects them to be challenging for another title.

‘It has always been the goal to try and raise their level as quickly as possible because they have got some good players in their squad,’ he said.

‘It was a challenging season for them last year in different ways because it can be hard getting up for every game when you are constantly winning, but they had to start somewhere and the faster we can get them tougher competition, the better.’

The Raiders players are already starting gym work in preparation for next season, but their official pre-season begins on 19 June and they have arranged a couple of home friendlies in August ahead of the new season.

National Two East

Barnes, Bury St Edmunds, Canterbury, Dorking, Esher, Guernsey Raiders, Henley, North Walsham, Old Albanian, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge Juddians, Westcombe Park, Wimbledon, Worthing

Counties Two Hampshire

Chichester Seconds, Basingstoke, Fordingbridge, Locks Heath Pumas, Millbrook, Sandown & Shanklin, St Jacques Vikings, Tottonians Seconds, US Portsmouth, Winchester Seconds.