No-one could ever accuse Jersey RFC’s chief coach, Dai Burton, of having an easy time over team selection.
Each week he has to shuffle the pack and, the longer the season, the more the squad seems to get smaller, rather than grow.
And this weekend he also has fog to worry about and just how many of his side will be able to reach the UK in time for today’s match.Despite this Burton is always upbeat about the team he sends out – this time (weather permitting) a mixture of youth and experience to take on Old Wimbledonians, currently second in the London South-West League Division III.For Old Wimbledonians who have already lost to Jersey this year, this will be a chance for revenge.
They are currently second in the Division and with 18 points and a six-point cushion over third-placed Tottonians seem set for promotion.Jersey are fifth, realistically looking for a third or fourth place finish, although any scalps they can take along the way will be gratefully received.’Old Wimbledonians are a good side,’ said Burton.
‘They have a good No 8 and a classy centre, so we’ll just go out there to play.’I think we’ve a good team turning out.
I’m pleased to see Richie Griffiths coming back into the game.
If conditions are heavy, it’ll need bossing down the middle, and Richie’s good at that.
He’s a bright player.’Back into the team steps Josh Chamier at hooker, following trials with the Hampshire under-20 side, and another potential teenage Hampshire player at wing-forward, Nick Trower.Burton believes both players could have a terrifically successful rugby career in front of them, but he is in no doubt with regard to what they have to do to justify their potential.’Josh was told by Hampshire that he has to get fitter,’ Burton explained.
‘The only difference at each stage up the ladder is fitness and attitude.
The skill level is pretty much the same.’Nick is another player who has ability, but on its own that isn’t enough.’In other words, what he wants from both boys is 100 per cent commitment, so much so that when they walk off the field at the end of the game, every ounce of surplus energy has been used up .
not because they’ve run around the pitch like headless chickens, but because they’ve committed themselves to the tackles, the hits, the support and to carrying and setting up the ball whenever it’s needed.It is already a long way away from the ‘amateur’ days of 20 years ago, when players would have a ciggie at half-time before a cough and a spit and getting on with the game.For in today’s game you can’t carry a player because they’re the kicker; the thrower-in; the line-out specialist.
You have to be fit for 80-plus minutes each game and run yourself ragged.As was demonstrated against the Navy team last weekend, Burton’s team are one of the fittest in this division: but whether they can turn that into points against a confident Old Wimbledonians’ side on Saturday is another matter.While Jersey plays away today, the club’s 2nd XV take on St Jacques RFC, from Guernsey, in the Emeraude Lines/JRA league at St Peter on Saturday, kick-off 2.30 pm.With John Heslam and Simon Cooper in the pack and Arnou Helmholt-Kneisel at stand-off, the Jersey team have experience enough to set up good ball for a set of talented threes which hasn’t scored the tries they’re capable of scoring in recent months.Meanwhile, in Guernsey, Beeches RFC, currently top of the league, are no illusions about the uphill task they face.For with games in hand and having lost only once (Beeches have lost twice) Guernsey RFC’s 2nds want the win – and if they get it against Beeches, they also believe they can win the title.’Guernsey’s 2nds are the best team I’ve seen in the league this season,’ said Burton.
‘Our 2nds beat them here in Jersey but it was a very close game.
Beeches will have to play outstandingly well to beat them.’At the end of the season they’ll spice up the Fallaize Trophy (played between Guernsey 2nds and Jersey 2nds) for sure.’