Any similarities between Jersey and Manchester rugby clubs finish with the fact that they play at the same level in the National League 2. Beyond this, the fortunes of both teams could not be different. As indicated in my earlier posts, Manchester who are celebrating their 150th anniversary are still reeling from the financial problems that occurred as a result of relegation in 2008 from the National League 1. Last season was a terribly long and painful journey for the club in which all of their 30 matches were lost with 2,626 points being conceded. This was on top of the 1,165 points conceded the year before when the club only won two league matches.
14-27 home defeat against Morley were dashed with a 74-0 defeat away at Kendal - the home team's first win of the season! On Saturday Manchester play Harrogate who are also struggling with only one home win. This might be the day that turns everything around.
In contrast to the seemingly unstoppable decline of Manchester, Jersey Rugby Club are one of the more unlikely success stories of recent years. Seemingly against the odds of not having the most ideal location and without an established tradition of rugby on the island, Jersey have had a meteoric rise through the leagues from a start in the Hampshire leagues. The club dominated National 3 London & SE last season with only one defeat in their 26 games (the first game of the season to Bracknell) and already Jersey have made their mark on National League 2 South with their first defeat at the hands of Richmond last Saturday after winning their opening six games. The club have been able to attract a number of players to the unique environment and the squad is now a good mix of home grown players, mainland players and overseas imports. At the last count two Kiwis, two South Africans and an Australian have found there way to the St Peters ground. A strong academy is also a feature of the club as the popularity of rugby on the island grows.
The experienced coaching team of Ben Harvey and Kern Yates have done a great job in making Jersey a highly competitive unit with their big abrasive forward play being a major feature of their recent success. Their was great disappointment after the club's first defeat for 13 months last Saturday and Harvey spared no punches in criticising the attitude and commitment of some of his players. Jersey have a chance to make amends with a home fixture against the top of the league club, Ealing Trailfinders this weekend.