RFU Championship News

March 15th

RFU Championship News


RFU Championship News

RFU ChampionshipTeams & Previews

Plus news and comment from around the clubs and what the papers say.

RFU Championship Re-arranged fixtures

Friday March 15
Moseley v Bristol 19:45

Saturday March 16
Jersey v Nottingham 14:15

Moseley v Bristol - Friday 19:45

MoseleyBristol RugbyMoseley v Bristol 
Billesley Common
Friday March 15
Kick Off 7:45pm

Live On
BBC Radio Bristol


Moseley make three changes to the side that lost narrowly at The Mennaye against Cornish Pirates last Sunday.

In the pack Ben Pons switches at open-side with Ollie Robinson and Mike Powell returns in place of Addison Lockley, in the backs Glynn Hughes is expected to start at fly-half ahead of Brad Davies, who goes to the bench.

In the Autumn the Birmingham side gained a late victory at The Memorial Ground, coming from behind with a searing try from under the shadow of their own posts.

They will be seeking something from this game in order to move further clear of the bottom of the table, and a win would give them a rare double over the south-westerners. With their opponents needing the same to get into the top four play-off positions the match is bound to be fast and furious.

With both Moseley coaches being former Bristol players an extra edge is attached to the proceedings. “This will be a tough contest” said Kevin Maggs. “They have a strong squad of players and we will have to be on top form to get any reward”

1.Ethan Waller;  2. Sam Wilkes; 3. Ben Evans; 4. Mike Powell;
5. Buster Lawrence; 6. Neil Mason; 7. Oliver Robinson; 8. Ben Pienaar;;
9.Ryan Glynn; 10. Glynn Hughes; 11 Billy Robinson.
12. Anthony Carter; 13. Greg King; 14. Simon Hunt; 15. Oliver Thomas

16. Tom Warren; 17. Matt Williams;18. Addison Lockley;19.Sam Dickinson
20 Ben Pons.; 21 Sam Brown; 22. Brad Davies


Bristol Rugby welcome back Roy Winters to the starting line-up ahead of this clash with Moseley at Billesley Common tonight.

The experienced lock forward – who returns to full fitness after a lengthy injury lay-off - is set for his first appearance since November.

Meanwhile, Liam Middleton includes skipper Iain Grieve and new loan signing Andy Short among the replacements.

The Head Coach makes three changes in total from the side that suffered a narrow loss to Nottingham last weekend. James Grindal is preferred to Ruki Tipuna at scrum half, while Adrian Jarvis recovers from a head injury to start.

Winters’ inclusion in the pack is the only change to the forwards, as Bristol go in search of a first ever win at Billesley Common.

Bristol Rugby
Jack Tovey; George Watkins, Fautua Otto, Luke Eves, Ryan Edwards
Adrian Jarvis, James Grindal (c); Kyle Traynor, Ross Johnston, Wayne Thompson
Mariano Sambucetti, Roy Winters, Marco Mama, Redford Pennycook, Mitch Eadie.

Rhys Lawrence, Bruce Douglas, Ben Glynn, Iain Grieve, Ruki Tipuna, Tristan Roberts, Andy Short.

What The Papers Say

Birmingham Mail: Brian Dick's In-Depth Look At Moseley V Bristol

Bristol take on Moseley this evening in their annual attempt at solving the atmospheric mysteries of Billesley Common where the laws of financial gravity don't appear to apply.

Not to them at least. While many of their equally well-heeled Championship brethren have been known to enjoy a stroll on the Common, the men from the Mem are usually utterly confounded by the combination of topographic, climatic and psychological variables.

Bristol have visited Moseley's windswept stronghold three times and have just one draw to counterbalance the bloody noses and bruised egos with which they traditionally leave.

Full Story www.birminghammail.co.uk

Jersey v Nottingham - Saturday 14:15

Jersey RugbyNottinghamJersey v Nottingham 
St Peter
Saturday March 16
Kick Off 2:15pm

Live On
BBC Radio Jersey

Statement From Jersey Today 11.30am: 

The Assistant Referee for the game has inspected the pitches at St Peter and is satisfied that both pitches 1 and 4 are playable. Work continues to remove the last remaining snow from pitch 1, and we are hopeful the game will take place on this pitch.

Pitch 4 is available as a stand-by if required. Nottingham RFC have been informed and have confirmed they will be travelling to Jersey as scheduled this afternoon.

Transport/ Car Parking:
 Due to the weather, we will only have a limited amount of parking on pitch 3 tomorrow and anyone who has any other possible means of getting to St Peter is urged to consider buses, taxis, getting a lift, cycling or walking.

 Liberty Buses will be running duplicate services on the number 9 route and there is also the route 15 service to the Airport - get off at the penultimate stop, the Mermaid. If you have to drive, please allow extra time for car parking and bear in mind that space cannot be guaranteed.


Jersey's squad for the rearranged game with Nottingham shows just three changes from last weekend's victory at Plymouth Albion.

New signing Mark McCrea, who sustained a calf injury on his Jersey debut at London Scottish earlier this month, is fit again and replaces Donovan Sanders at right-wing.

The other changes are both on the bench, with Sanders taking Glenn Bryce's place, and teenager James Voss recalled in place of Rob Anderson.

"Mark McCrea had a good game against Scottish until he was injured late on, and so I wanted to get him involved again once he returned to fitness," stated Director of Rugby Ben Harvey. "Otherwise the boys put in a very good shift at Plymouth last week and deserve another opportunity."

The game was originally scheduled for February 16th, but was postponed when the match referee ruled that the pitch at St Peter was unplayable.

This weekend's fixture was also in doubt following massive snowfall in Jersey earlier this week, which at one stage covered the main pitch at St Peter up to the height of the pitchside perimeter fencing.

However a fast thaw and hard work by volunteers has cleared the majority of the snow and following an inspection by the Assistant Referee this morning the fixture has been given the go-ahead. The intention is to stage it on pitch 1, but pitch 4 at St Peter is definitely available as a stand-by if required.  

1 Sean McCarthy 2 Dave Felton 3 Jon Brennan 4 Nathan Hannay
5 Dave Markham 6 Charlie Walker-Blair 7 Kingsley Lang 8 Guy Thompson
9 Nicky Griffiths (capt) 10 Michael Le Bourgeois 11 Ed Dawson
12 Mark Foster 13 Max Stelling 14 Mark McCrea 15 Barry Davies

Richard Barrington, Charlie Clare, James Gethings, James Voss
Fred Silcock, Dave McCormack, Glenn Bryce


Nottingham full-back Andrew Savage returns from injury to take on Jersey at St Peter in tomorrow’s re-arranged Championship fixture.

The 27-year-old’s recovery from a hamstring complaint sees versatile back David Jackson, who this week signed a contract extension with the Meadow Lane club, move to the left wing with Ryan Hough named as an emergency replacement in the extended squad.

Joe Cobden retains his place in the centres after coming on as a half-time replacement for Tim Streather in the narrow win over Bristol which propelled the Green and Whites to second in the league last week.

Nine places and 34 points separate Nottingham and Jersey on the Championship ladder.

Green and Whites No. 8 Alex Shaw insists the East Midlands outfit are approaching the trip with the same verve that they will next week’s highly anticipated top-of-the-table clash with Newcastle at Meadow Lane.

“Jersey are a good side, especially at their place where they have picked up some big results and pushed a lot of teams,” Shaw said.

“Our approach doesn’t change if we are playing a side below us in the league or if we are coming up against the leaders.

“We have spent the week focused on what we have to do to get the better of Jersey and consolidating our place in the top four.”

Nottingham Rugby
15 Andrew Savage 14 Alex Lewington 13 Joe Cobden 12 Joe Munro
11 David Jackson 10 James Arlidge 9 Sean Romans
1 Jonny Harris 2 Joe Duffey 3 Michael Holford 4 Dan Montagu
5 Nic Rouse 6 Rupert Cooper 7 Brent Wilson 8 Alex Shaw

16 Shaun Malton 17 Ryan Bower 18 Joe Quinn 19 Tom Calladine
20 Finlay Barnham 21 Rory Lynn 22 Andy Forsyth.

News From Around The Clubs This Week

Jack Nowell

19 year old Cornish Fullback/Winger Jack Nowell Named LV= Cup's Breakthrough Player.

ack Nowell LV= Cup's Breakthrough Player of Year

Newlyn boy Nowell who came up through the ranks of the Pirates Juniors, now plays for Exeter Chiefs and previoulsy dual registered with the Cornish Pirates, was nominated for the award following his outstanding performances throughout all four pool stages of this season's LV=Cup.

He beat the likes of Bath's Tom Heathcote, Marland Yarde from London Irish and Harlequins Luke Wallace to win the award.

Nowell said: "To win the LV=Breakthrough Player Award is massive for me.

"The fact that it is voted for by rugby fans makes winning a huge honour, so thanks to everyone that voted for me.”


Bristol Sign Bath No.8 Ben Skirving For 2013/14 Campaign

Bristol RugbyBristol Rugby have bolstered their back-row options with the signing of Bath no.8 Ben Skirving ahead of the 2013/14 campaign.

The capture of the England international underlines Head Coach Liam Middleton's intentions to build one of the most exciting squads in the RFU Championship.

The imposing 29 year-old - who has represented England at U16, U19, U21, Saxons and Sevens level - earned a senior international cap against the Springboks in June 2007.

A product of the Saracens Academy system, Skirving surpassed a century of appearances for the Aviva Premiership side by the age of 22.

"Ben is a very impressive individual with a wealth of experience," said Head Coach Liam Middleton.

"He's a widely respected professional who can become an integral member of our squad. Ben is a powerful ball carrier, a hard worker and gives us plenty of options in the lineout.

"We're trying to build a squad with the right balance of youth and experience - Ben fits the bill of a player in the prime of his career."

Having joined Bath in 2009, Skirving has made eighteen appearances so far this season, scoring one try.

Cornish Pirates

Josh Lewsey Join Pirates As Acting Ceo/Performance Director

Cornish PiratesSpeaking here on the Cornish Pirates website, Chairman of the Cornish Pirates Board, Dicky Evans said:

Needing no introduction former British Lion and World Cup Winner with England Josh joins us on a consultive and part time basis working on behalf of OJL Ltd from April-September to bring his own unique brand of management skills to the Cornish Pirates.

His CV is of course top notch but of special significance has been his ability to switch his outstanding sporting ability into the area of business, deliberately differentiating himself from his peers in rugby by learning and adopting a broader set of skills in some of the world’s most challenging industries.

It reads like a James Bond thriller, with passing mention to surviving the Mount Everest climb. He has won every trophy available in rugby but now has also achieved recognition as a business leader where his work for both PwC and Citibank on various strategy, structure and cultural projects lends itself favourably to some of our current challenges. 

Why would Josh want to help the Pirates you may ask? His greatest passion is the advocating of Values through Sport to Communities and having a home in St Agnes, caring hugely about the county, is therefore keen to help a club and community for which he has a great affinity with.

Josh and I have been in touch for a couple of years on the future of rugby in Cornwall, the Pirates and the stadium and his advice to me behind the scenes has been invaluable.

Some of the services agreed to be performed are:

  •  Review the existing on field and related organisational performance and existing marketing and commercial performance.

  •  Establish a clear brand strategy, initiate the administration appointments required to deliver on this including the search for a new full time CEO.

  •  Liaise with the key stakeholders in the stadium development such as the Council and Inox.

  •  Liaise with Rod on his area of responsibility covering ground developments, the RFU and squad signings for next season.

Full Story http://cornish-pirates.com

Doncaster Knights

Griffiths Not Lying Down In Fight

Doncaster KnightsClive Griffiths believes that every game is a ‘must win’ as his Doncaster side look to escape from relegation, with just four vital Championship fixtures remaining.

Knights have a free weekend after Saturday’s disappointing 19-25 defeat against South Yorkshire rivals Rotherham, but return to action in nine days time when they travel to high-flying Bedford Blues.

Doncaster will be hoping to avenge the 21-22 defeat at Castle Park earlier in the season when they travel to Goldington Road to face Mike Rayer’s men.

Griffiths said: “They are all must win games, from the first game I came back against Jersey, it’s been that way and I look at every match as ‘must win’.

“We’ve got closer and closer, but just not got over the line and got the points we needed. Bedford will know how important the game is to us, and whilst there is no pressure on them they will also want to win. They will want a confidence boosting win ahead of the Championship play-offs and B&I Cup knockout stage.

“It’s going to be a tall order for us and a big ask, but we’ve just got to keep fighting to the very end, that is the rallying call at Castle Park at the moment. We are behind the black ball, but the game certainly isn’t over.”

Director of Rugby Griffiths was disappointed with the result at the weekend, but was pleased to get the losing bonus point that was secured by a last minute converted try.

“We lost it because of our poor kick chase, we had two warnings in the first half, when Joe Bedford put up two excellent box kicks and we allowed the catcher to wriggle off the hook and make yards. It bit us hard in the second half, when we did the same again. There left winger wriggled out of two tackles, we then lost our shape on the jockey defence and were punished.

“The massive turning point was when Connor Braid kicked the ball into their hands 25 metres away from their goal line. We had a good attack and had all the momentum, they cleared and turned the ball over to score and take the lead. The final pass looked forward, but it wasn’t given so that added insult to injury once again.

“From a position of strength at 12-6 up, we were in a catch up position again. At 18-12, the task wasn’t insurmountable, but we then got hammered at a catch and drive lineout, they gained valuable yards and the referee ran under the posts to put them that extra score ahead.

“The good thing about it was we didn’t drop our heads, we came back and only time will tell if that last try and conversion by Dougie Flockhart which earned us a bonus point will be of any advantage to us in the run in.”

The Welsh coaching maestro is still proud of the fighting spirit shown by his players and is backing them to recover from the disappointment of Rotherham.

“The mood is obviously a sombre one, we are getting in good positions and then letting them go. The lads have trained well again the last few days and that’s what they do and fair play to them, they always get off the floor and come back for more.

“We just hope that we can keep going and get the rewards that they deserve for the effort they put in at training, and get these much needed wins that will get us to safety.

Griffiths blames several reasons on the Knights failure to cross the winning line, but game management and decision making appear to be top of the bill to improve on.

“From our possession we are getting hurt a lot of times, when you have the ball you have to be in control of the game. It’s self inflicted at the moment, teams aren’t doing a lot to beat us, we are handing some things on a plate to them.

“We’ve got to learn how to manage the game when in good positions, unfortunately we’ve spent a lot of time on this, and it’s one of the main things I pointed out when I came back, but we haven’t quite managed to erect it – hopefully we will in the next few games.”

Newcastle Falcons

Adam Powell Joins Newcastle Falcons

Newcastle FalconsAdam Powell has joined Newcastle Falcons from Saracens.

The 26-year-old centre, who has spent the last eight seasons with the north London club, signed a contract with the Falcons in February but due to Saracens’ international call-ups it was agreed at the time that Newcastle would loan the player back to Saracens until the end of their LV= Cup campaign.

Following Saracens' 21-15 defeat to Sale the loan agreement between Newcastle and Saracens has come to an end, allowing Powell to join his new teammates with immediate effect.

With no game for the Falcons this coming weekend Powell will be in line for selection when the Falcons take on Nottingham on Friday March 22 in the RFU Championship.

Powell said: “I’ve had a great time at Saracens and I will always wish the club well, but I’m really excited by what is happening at Newcastle under Dean Richards and I can’t wait to get started.”

Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards Falcons director of rugby Dean Richards said: “It was agreed when we brought Adam on board that we would help Sarries out during their LV= Cup campaign by loaning him back to them before the transfer deadline. Now their cup run is over I am delighted to be able to publically welcome Adam to Kingston Park.

“He is a quality player and a solid acquisition to our midfield as we prepare for the end of season play-offs and the final push towards our ultimate goal of a return to the Premiership.”


Holford And Jackson Agree New Nottingham Deals

NottinghamProp Michael Holford  and Full Back/Winger David Jackson have signed contract extensions with the Meadow Lane club.

Holford, 30, has been a key figure for Martin Haag’s high-flying Green and Whites, featuring 20 times in all competitions this term.

The former Leicester Tigers and London Wasps Premiership forward said: “I had a great time here last year and this year has been fantastic.

“We are a close-knit team and I rate what Martin Haag and forwards coach Neil Fowkes are doing very highly.”

Nottingham prop Michael Holford Holford said rugby was just part of the attraction of staying with the East Midlands outfit.

“We are a club on the up and I love my life outside of rugby, with my family and little daughter so close in Leicester,” Holford said.

“There are lots of factors and reasons that I’ve stayed.

“I’m coaching at South Leicester (in National League 3 Midlands) and that is something I’m really enjoying and which has really helped me as a player.

“As a coach it is a great feeling to have people look up to you and that is a role I want to take on more and more as a leader with Nottingham.”

David Jackson 30, who has worn the green and white hoops for 24 years having started as a minis player, has already cemented his place in the annals of club history during a landmark 13th season of first team rugby.

He is Nottingham Rugby’s all-time league appearance record holder and became the first player in over a decade to feature in more than 300 games and score more than 100 career tries for the club.

David Jackson Jackson’s current deal was due to expire at the end of the season.

“It was an easy decision for me - I’ve been part of the Green and Whites’ first team for 13 seasons now and love representing the club,” Jackson said.

“I’m thrilled that I will continue to play my rugby for Nottingham.

“My passion for Nottingham Rugby has never changed, the only thing that has changed is that I get a little bit older every time I sign a new deal.

“The statistics that come with being a one-club man are nice and make for interesting reading, but I get my satisfaction from being part of the team.”

The versatile back has been a key figure for Martin Haag’s high-flyers, who sit second in the league and are through to the quarter-finals of the British and Irish Cup.

Jackson has touched down nine times in 20 appearances in all competitions this term.

“It is exciting times at Meadow Lane right now and this means I can focus all my attention on the field,” Jackson said.

“There is still a lot to look forward to this season and what might happen after that.

“We don’t know where we will finish up, with so many big games still to come in the league and the race for the play-offs really heating up.

“All I want to do is help this club progress because that is where I get all my enjoyment – producing my best to get results for the Green and Whites.”

Martin HaagHaag said he is delighted by the new deal: “I’m very pleased that Jacko has extended his stay, he is a stalwart of the club and a part of our leadership group.

“After all these years he continues to produce the highest standards, is as fit as ever and his character and ethos represent what we are trying to achieve here at Nottingham.”


Plymouth Albion

Albion Step Up Search For New Coach And Successor To Nat Saumi

Plymouth AlbionSarah Raine Plymouth Herald

PLYMOUTH Albion hope to have a shortlist of candidates to become their new director of rugby drawn up by early next week

The Championship club, looking to replace Fijian Nat Saumi, who has announced he will leave Brickfields at the end of this season, insist they still have an open mind on the type of person they are looking for

Albion's acting chief executive Debbie Fisher told Herald Sport: "Ever since January we have been receiving speculative CVs through agents, but following Nat's announcement lots of people have popped out of the woodwork – some I know the names of, some I don't.

Full Story www.thisisplymouth.co.uk

Nat SaumiNat Saumi, who played for Redruth and Cornish Pirates before joining Albion, has been a popular and respected figure in Devon and Cornwall for many years.

When Saumi signed his contract with Albion last season he said he would only stay for one more year and insists he is leaving for family reasons and not due to Albion's recent run of poor results.

I think we would all wish Nat well, thank him for his contributions both on and off the field  and hope the future smiles on him back in his Native Fiji.

Rotherham Titans

Albion Step Up Search For New Coach And Successor To Nat Saumi

Rotherham Titans Paul Rickett, Rotherham Advertiser

ROTHERHAM Titans have been in talks over the new Olympic Legacy development plans for Don Valley - which could eventually lead to the Championship club leaving town.

If it comes to fruition it will see the rugby club moving out of their home town after 90 years at Clifton Lane.

Titans have previously explored the prospect of moving to Sheffield in pursuit of more sponsorship and better crowds. Discussions were held two years ago to move the club to Don Valley but they failed to reach fruition.

The latest proposals involve sizeable financial outlay, despite the current economic squeeze, with the new stadium expected to const up to £15 million.

Full Story www.rotherhamadvertiser.co.uk