RFU Championship News

Feb 8th

RFU Championship News


RFU Championship News

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

Round 15 Fixtures

Saturday 9 February 2013 
Bedford v Jersey 15:00
London Scottish v Nottingham 15:00
Rotherham v Plymouth Albion 15:00

Moseley v Bristol POSTPONED

Sunday 10 February 2013 
Cornish Pirates v Doncaster 14:30
Leeds Carnegie v Newcastle 13:00

Bedford v Jersey - Saturday 15:00

Bedford BluesJersey RugbyBedford v Jersey
Saturday 9th February 
Goldington Road
Kick Off 3pm



Bedford Blues return to Championship action tomorrow afternoon with the visit of Jersey, a side who are quickly becoming used to life at this level

Bedford are picking from an almost fully fit squad but they will be without long term casualties Sacha Harding (ankle) and Henry Staff (bicep) while Scott Spurling (hand) has had some encouraging news with a significant improvement in his rehab. 

Looking ahead to Saturday’s encounter with Jersey, Blues backs coach Paul Larkin said: “Selection once again was a tricky one, especially behind the scrum.

A lot of the players stuck their hand up last weekend and deserve another opportunity, Mark Kohler being the only one to miss out through personal reasons. After two league games on the road all the players are looking forward to running out on and using, the wide and quick expanses of Goldington Road.’

“Jersey caused us all sorts of problems at their place earlier in the season and have picked up some very valuable points recently in their battle for survival. It’ll be game on here Saturday afternoon as we expect a tough battle up front from their pack and if given the right amount of possession then their experienced half backs will be able to boss the game. Our lads have trained exceptionally well however and are in pretty determined mood to put a performance in.”

Bedford Blues
15 James Pritchard (c) 14. James Stephenson 13. Ollie Dodge 12. Mark Atkinson
11. Josh Bassett 10. Jake Sharp 9. Darryl Veenendaal
1. Darren Fearn 2. Neil Cochrane 3. Ben Cooper 4. Mike Howard
5. Ben Gulliver 6. Gregor Gillanders 7. Tom Armes 8. Don Barrell

16. Chris Locke, 17. Ricky Reeves, 18. Phil Boulton, 19. Joe Vandermolen
20. Darren Fox, 21. Luke Baldwin, 22. Brendan Burke


Late News

An injury to replacement three-quarter Glenn Bryce has necessitated a change to the Jersey squad for the Championship clash at Bedford. Although the Islanders do not have a like-for-like replacement for Bryce, travelling reserve Fred Silcock is promoted to fill the vacant position on the bench

Original Preview:-

Ex-Bedford fly-half Ross Broadfoot will start in the number 10 shirt for Jersey when the Islanders return to his former club tomorrow (k-o 3pm).

Broadfoot, who made 27 appearances for the Blues in 2006/07, will make his first start in the RFU Championship since Bedford visited Jersey in late September, a game won 19-29 by the division’s third-placed side

Mike Le Bourgeois switches to full-back in place of Barry Davies, who was suspended by his club in the wake of an incident against Rotherham two weeks ago, and has since received a three-week ban from a RFU disciplinary panel (he is free to play again from February 19th).

Jersey’s reshuffled back line includes two 19-year-olds: loan signing Max Stelling takes the place of Dai Bishop in the centre after Bishop sustained a broken hand in training, while Chris Levesley starts at left-wing.

The forward line-up sees just one change from the 13-10 victory over Rotherham at St Peter, with loose-head Richard Barrington coming from the bench to swap places with Sean McCarthy

The visitors’ bench includes the powerful Tongan Talite Vaioleti, who will cover the back five positions in the pack and is set to play his first rugby following a three-month lay-off with a dislocated shoulder.

Director of Rugby Ben Harvey said he was looking for his side to improve on their performance from the first encounter with Bedford

“I felt we showed them a bit too much respect, kicked poorly and were looking set for a heavy defeat at one stage,” he said. “We recovered well and could have taken at least a bonus point or two, and if we can produce our best form over 80 minutes then I am confident Bedford are beatable.”

Jersey have lost six consecutive league games on the road, in contrast to their ‘won four, lost four’ record at St Peter.

Jersey (Fred Silcock replaces Glenn Bryce On The bench)
1 Richard Barrington 2 Dave Felton 3 Jon Brennan 4 Nathan Hannay
5 Dave Markham 6 Kingsley Lang  7 Joe Buckle 8 Guy Thompson
9 Nicky Griffiths (capt) 10 Ross Broadfoot  11 Chris Levesley
12 Tom Cooper 13 Max Stelling 14 Ed Dawson 15 Mike Le Bourgeois

16 Sean McCarthy 17 Charlie Clare 18 James Gethings 19 Talite Vaioleti
20 Dave McCormack 21 Ashley Maggs 22 Fred Silcock

What The Papers Say

Michael Hann, Bedford Today

The Blues have lost their last two Championship outings, however they come into the match on a high having demolished Bedwas 64-0 in the British and Irish Cup on Friday.

As a result, director of rugby Mike Rayer says it is crucial they build on such a good performance.

He said: “It is nice to have a bit of normality back with three nights on the training paddock.

“We have been able to get a lot of work done this week moving forward into Jersey.

“The next few weeks are important for us getting back to Championship action and getting a few points on the board.”

Full story www.bedfordtoday.co.uk

Other News

Michael Hann, Bedford Today - Wasps sting Blues as Rae heads to the Premiership

Bedford Blues lock Alex Rae has signed for Premiership side London Wasps with immediate effect..

Speaking about his departure, Blues director of rugby Mike Rayer paid tribute to Rae.: “Alex has been a fantastic player for us during his four and a half seasons at Goldington Road and while we are sad to see him leave, Alex heads to Wasps with our very best wishes.

London Wasps director of rugby Dai Young added: “We have never had the biggest squad, and with Tom Palmer out injured and Joe Launchbury away with England, we have moved quickly to bring somebody else in.

Full Story www.bedfordtoday.co.uk

London Scottish v Nottingham - Saturday 15:00

London ScottishNottinghamLondon Scottish v Nottingham
Saturday 9th February 
The Athletic Ground
Kick Off 3pm


London Scottish

London Scottish have made four changes to the starting XV that beat Doncaster at Castle Park last Friday.

Andy Reay is restored at inside centre with Jamie Stevenson returning at scrum half following his stint with the Scotland A side. Miles Mantella, whose late try secured the win against Doncaster last weekend, continues on the left wing.

In the pack, Nic Mayhew and Eric Fry join the front row alongside Adam Kwasnicki. Fry will be starting his first game for the club since joining in January.

Mark Irish is named on a strong replacements bench along with the dual registered flanker Joe Trayfoot as Scottish opt for a five forwards and two backs split.

Director of Rugby Simon Amor: "Nottingham have enjoyed a good season so far. They currently sit in second place in the table, behind Newcastle and they have excellent defensive and attacking records so it's difficult to spot a weakness in their game.

They have threats out wide, they have an excellent set piece, especially their lineout, and they don't miss many tackles so we'll have to play at our absolute best."

London Scottish
15 Jim Thompson; 14 James Love, 13 Oli Grove, 12 Andy Reay
11 Miles Mantella; Phil Godman, 9 Jamie Stevenson
1 Nic Mayhew, 2 Adam Kwasnicki, 3 Eric Fry; 4 Paul Spivey
5 Tyler Hotson; 6 Ben Russell, 7 Chevvy Pennycook, 8 Mark Bright (c).

16 Mark Irish, 17 Harry Allen, 18 Alex Mackenzie, 19 Alex Karonias
20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Richard Bolt, 22 PJ Gidlow


Full-Back Andrew Savage slots back into Nottingham Rugby’s starting XV to face London Scottish on Saturday (February 9) after more than two months out with injury. Savage’s recall was prompted by injury to Rhys Crane who pulled up sore in training this week

David Jackson, the versatile Green and Whites triple centurion who started five of the last seven games at full-back, moves onto the left wing as cover for Crane.

Savage’s inclusion is the only change made by Martin Haag to the starting XV that overcame Bedford last month to move clear second in the RFU Championship standings

Centre Andy Forsyth, who scored a first-half try in Leicester Tigers’ LV= Cup loss to Scarlets on Sunday, is recalled for Nottingham and takes his place on the bench.

The trip to The Athletic Ground is the first of two away games for the East Midlands club against sides fighting to move clear of the relegation zone. The Green and Whites will next week make an historic first visit to Jersey.

There might be six places and 26 points that separate Nottingham and Scottish on the league table, but Green and Whites prop Michael Holford still regards the side from the nation’s capital as a major threat.

“We are in top form and full of confidence having just beaten Bedford, but it would all be worth nothing if we lose now,” Holford said.

“Scottish gave Newcastle a good run and turned Bedford over, so they are the perfect example of a side that can beat anyone on their day.”

15 Andrew Savage 14 Alex Lewington 13 Tim Streather 12 Joe Munro
11 David Jackson 10 James Arlidge 9 Sean Romans
1 Matt Parr 2 Joe Duffey 3 Michael Holford 4 Dan Montagu
5 Nic Rouse 6 Rupert Cooper 7 Brent Wilson 8 Alex Shaw.

Replacements from:
16 Shaun Malton 17 Ryan Bower 18 Joe Quinn 19 Tom Calladine
20 Finlay Barnham 21 Joe Cobden 22 Andy Forsyth.

Moseley v Bristol - Saturday 15:00

MoseleyBristol RugbyMoseley v Bristol
Saturday 9th February 
Billesley Common
Kick Off 3pm



fter a pitch inspection at 10am today’s RFU Championship fixture at Billesley Common has been postponed. 

Whilst the pitch has excellent drainage the water table remains very high. This combined with overnight rain and further rain forecast for the rest of the day has meant that the pitch is unplayable. 

The inspection was carried out in line with RFU Championship regulations and the date of the re-arranged fixture will be announced as soon as possible. 


After a week’s break from action Moseley entertain old rivals Bristol at Billesley Common on Saturday. The home side have started 2013 in much better form, with three wins from four matches played, including a particularly hard fought victory over Plymouth in the last Championship round.

The Birmingham side gained a thrilling late victory against their West Country opponents at the Memorial Ground in the autumn, a fact which is certain to add an edge to the return match.

Coaches Kevin Maggs and Dave Hilton, both Bristol old-boys themselves, have selected a similar side to that which defended so stoutly at Plymouth.

Maggs was sanguine about his side’s chances. “Bristol are an extremely well resourced and talented side” he said. “We will need to produce something really special to get the result I know we are capable of”.

1. Ethan Waller. 2. Adam Caves. 3. Ben Evans. 4. Addison Lockley
5. Mike Powell. 6. Neil, Mason. 7. Oliver Robinson. 8. Ben Pienaar
9. Sam Brown. 10. Glyn Hughes. 11. Scott Armstrong.
12. Anthony Carter 13. Greg King. 14. Simon Hunt. 15. Billy Robinson.

16. Sam Wilkes. 17. Buster Lawrence. 18. Tom Warren. 19. Sam Dickinson
20. Ben Pons. 21. Oliver Thomas. 22. Brad Hunt.


Bristol Rugby face Moseley on Saturday seeking a first ever RFU Championship win at Billesley Common.

Liam Middleton makes three changes from the side that beat Leeds Carnegie 12-9 in round 14 of the competition.

Gaston Cortes returns from injury to replace the suspended Jason Hobson, while Alafoti Faosiliva is preferred to Marco Mama in the back row.

Bristol make one change to the backline, as Fautua Otto is included for his first start of the campaign. Mike Tagicakibau (hamstring) is still sidelined.

Middleton opts for a five forwards and two backs split on the bench.

Bristol Rugby
Jack Tovey; George Watkins, Fautua Otto, Luke Eves, Ryan Edwards
Adrian Jarvis, James Grindal (c); Kyle Traynor, Ross Johnston, Gaston Cortes
Mariano Sambucetti, Glen Townson, Alafoti Faosiliva, Redford Pennycook, Mitch Eadie.

Rhys Lawrence, Bruce Douglas, Wayne Thompson,
Ben Glynn, Marco Mama, Ruki Tipuna, Tristan Roberts.

What The Papers Say

Brian Dick, Birmingham Mail - Maggs Wary of Threat Posed By Bristol

Eventually even the most troublesome bogeys are extricated but Kevin Maggs is hoping that day doesn’t come this Saturday as his reinvigorated Moseley smell another upset against Bristol.

They could do with another display in which passion and accuracy operate in perfect harmony this weekend, particularly given the fact Championship safety seems closer than it has done all term.

Doncaster’s defeat at home to London Scottish last Friday means, with eight matches to go, Mose have a seven-point cushion on the unseated Knights

“It’s in our hands, the boys are more determined than ever to get where we want to be, we’ve got eight games, five at home and hopefully that will stand us in good stead.”

Full Story  ww.birminghammail.co.uk

Other News This Week

Bristol Confirm Future Lies In Ground Share With City

On Tuesday this week, Bristol formally announced their decision to leave the Memorial Stadium and ground-share with Bristol City

They will either play at a redeveloped 26,000-capacity Ashton Gate or at a new 30,000-capacity stadium at Ashton Vale, which is still subject to an inquiry.

Bristol Rovers are selling the Memorial Stadium to move to a new site at Stoke Gifford and many from Bristol Rugby will be saddened by the need to move from their spiritual home.

However their contract at the Memorial Stadium expires at the end of next season, and, if the Ashton Vale plan is rejected, they could move into Ashton Gate for the 2014-15 season.

The Bristol Post has spoken to club chairman Chris Booy and Head Coach Liam Middleton, both of whom are positively enthused by the prospects of the move

Bristol Post - This is a crucial step for us, says Booy

CHRIS Booy is sympathetic to Bristol supporters' concerns about moving in with Bristol City – but believes the move to Ashton Gate or Ashton Vale is in the club's best interests.

"I know it will be difficult for those who like to stand at our games to contemplate having to sit down," said Booy. "But I hope they stick with us, because this is a crucial step for us to get this club back into the Premiership and back to being one of the best clubs in the country.

"We shouldn't lose sight of the fact we will be playing in, without doubt, the best stadium in the country and also the biggest.

This is part of our plan to get into the Premiership," he said. "We clearly have a desire to do it and we are going to invest more funds to secure that goal – we hope to do that as soon as possible.”

Full Story www.thisisbristol.co.uk

Bristol Post - Liam Middleton Backs Bristol Rugby's Potential Ashton Gate Move

Bristol head coach Middleton is enthused by the prospect of moving to a new-look, 26,000-capacity Ashton Gate – and is sure the pitch, which combines natural grass with artificial fibres, will benefit his team.

“We knew that we would be at the Mem next season – but there was always the question of where we would go from there,” said Middleton. “Seasons go so quickly – the season just flies past – and, before we know it, it will be this time next season and we’ll be looking at moving on to the next stadium.

“I think it’s exciting. When you look at the plans for a 26,000-seater stadium, it’s fantastic, as is a Desso pitch. That will produce a very fast track, which suits the way we want to play the game.

“We’re pretty excited about it but there’s obviously a lot of rugby to be played before then.”

Full Story www.thisisbristol.co.uk

Rotherham v Plymouth Albion - Saturday 15:00

Rotherham Titans Plymouth AlbionLondon Scottish v Nottingham
Saturday 9th February 
Clifton lane
Kick Off 3pm



Titans Head Coah Alex Codling has made three changes to the side that were beaten last time out at Jersey

Two of the Titans changes come in the backline; with Peter Homan returning on the wing, whilst James McKinney gets the nod to orchestrate the backline in the number 10 jersey; meaning Club Captain Garry Law switches to full back. In the pack Rory Pitman returns at number 8 following his impressive contribution in Jersey coming off the bench.

Speaking ahead of the Plymouth clash, Alex Codling commented, “It’s been another interesting week in terms of preparation, particularly with the snow we had on Tuesday. The forwards trained in a blizzard and the backs trained here at a snowy Clifton Lane. But the boys are in good spirits, despite us being pretty frustrated with the outcome of the Jersey game. We didn’t get the result we felt we deserved over there and we are looking to put that right on Saturday.

“We’ve not made too many changes from last time because we thought the boys performed very well in Jersey. I thought the bench made a good impact, with Rory Pitman and James McKinney in particular putting in outstanding performances.

“Saturday’s game is important to us, particularly as our rhythm has been affected by blank weekends, the weather and our involvement in the B&I Cup. It’s great to be playing back in the Championship and even more so at our home here at Clifton Lane.”

15 Garry Law (Capt.), 14 Mike Doneghan, 13 Eamonn Sheridan, 12 Pale Nonu,
11 Pete Homan, 10 James McKinney, 9 Charlie Mulchrone
1 Marshall Gadd, 2 Ted Stagg, 3 Gareth Denman, 4 Ben Thomas
5 Dan Sanderson, 6 Alex Rieder, 7 Latu Makaafi, 8 Rory Pitman.

16 Harry Hannan, 17 Jamie Kilbane, 18 Ross Davies, 19 Toby Freeman
20 Carl Kirwan, 21 Lee Blackett, 22 Jimmy Williams.

Plymouth Albion

Plymouth Albion make three changes to their team for tomorrow’s trip to Rotherham.

Forwards Herbie Stupple (concussion) and Rupeni Nasiga (knee) are forced to drop out of the side that narrowly lost 28-26 at Leeds last weekend. They are replaced by Aaron Carpenter and Harrison Tovey.

The other change is at tight-head prop where Lloyd Fairbrother comes in for David Morton, who drops to the bench

The teams are separated by just two points in the league, with Rotherham sitting seventh and Albion ninth.

Albion head coach Nat Saumi is hoping his team can build on their display at Leeds last weekend and return to winning ways in the league tomorrow.

“We did well last week, but we have to follow that up,” said Saumi. “It is about consistency and rising to the next level.

“Hopefully, the players are going to rise to another level come Saturday.”

15 Rhodri McAtee 14 Lewis Warner 13 Toby Howley-Berridge 12 Bevon Armitage
11 Tom Bowen 10 Paul Roberts 9 Ruairi Cushion (c)
1 Ben Rogers 2 Jon Vickers 3 Lloyd Faibrother 4 Brett Beukeboom
5 Harrison Tovey 6 Sean-Michael Stephen  7Sam Hocking 8 Aaron Carpenter

16 Paul Rowley 17 Paul Bailey 18 David Morton 19 Jack Andrew
20 Jamie Salter 21 Wayne Sprangle 22 Sam Matavesi

What The Papers Say

Rotherham Advertiser - Keep it up, says Alexs

Alex Codling was disappointed by tTitan’s result last time out in Jersey a fortnight ago, in mudbath conditions, but conversely was delighted with the effort put in by his players.

And he wants more of the same when struggling Albion come to town. It’s a game Rotherham need to win to banish the spectre of being drawn into the bottom end squabble, although the same goes for Nat Saumi’s Plymouth

Full Story www.rotherhamadvertiser.co.uk

Other News This Week

Albion Board Back Saumi

Plymouth Albion have reviewed Nat Saumi's position as head coach following  their home defeat to Moseley, but the board unanimously agreed he should continue in his role, despite Albion’s  poor run of results.

Albion Board Back Saumi

Last weekend, against Leeds, the team produced a much improved effort when they narrowly lost 28-26 at West Park

The performance at Leeds followed Albion’s internal review, which became public following an interview club chairman Graham Stirling gave to the Rugby Paper:

Stirling Said: "Performances have not been good enough so there's been an internal review into what has gone wrong and what we must do to put it right.

"We considered all options in the light of poor results, but it was unanimously agreed we should continue to run with Nat Saumi.

Sara Raine, Plymouth Herald

Albion were on the brink of going into liquidation last season but, with Saumi leading the team, they survived both on and off the pitch and things looked promising after they won four out of their opening five matches.

The club have found wins tough to come by since, but the board remain optimistic Saumi can turn things around. Club chairman Stirling told Herald Sport: "As a board we are most concerned with the recent results, a feeling shared by Nat, the coaching staff and the players.

"We had a constructive discussion and are confident we have the right squad to return to winning ways.

"The guys know what they are capable of doing and have demonstrated it several times this season. On the day we can compete with the best.”

Full Story  www.thisisplymouth.co.uk

Cornish Pirates v Doncaster - Sunday 14:30

Cornish PiratesDoncaster KnightsCornish Pirates v Doncaster
Sunday 10th February 
The Mennaye Field
Kick Off 2:30pm


Cornish Pirates

After a four weeks break it's a return to rugby action at the Mennaye Field on Sunday.

The Knights might well be at the foot of the table but they're guaranteed to provide stern opposition, as they will be intent on acquiring the league points needed to leapfrog to safety and avoid the relegation facing the bottom club at the end of Stage 1

Barring sickness or injury Sunday's match should provide another memorable day in the career of the club's longest serving present player, popular prop forward Alan Paver, who is set to make his 300th appearance for the Pirates.

To reach such a milestone in the professional era is a truly remarkable achievement, and one that only a small amount of players achieve .Read More >>

The Pirates welcome back from injury wing Matt Evans, who is their top try-scorer in the Championship this season, and this week's confirmed on loan signing from London Welsh, Ashley Smith, is named on the bench.

Cornish Pirates:
W. Davies, B. Mercer, T. Riley, J. Fatialofa, M. Evans,
K. Hallett, G. Cattle (capt), L. McGlone, P. Burgess, K. Marriott
G. Johnson, D. Barry, A. Paver, D. Semmens, P. Andrew.

R. Storer, R. Elloway, B. Prescott, D. Lyons, B. Maidment, T. Kessell, Ashley Smith

Referee: Matt Carley (RFU)
Assistants: Dino Maddern & Tom Foley


Clive Griffiths has made just two changes for Doncaster Knights trip to Cornwall.

The first switch is only a positional move as Connor Braid makes his first start in the centres, partnering Will Simpson in the midfield. The back three remain unchanged with Michael Keating looking to light up the backline under the orchestration of housemate Tom Luke who returns to the outside-half birth.

Luke will be hoping to pull the strings in a similar manner as he did last season against his former Club the Pirates in the ten jersey; lining up alongside Joe Bedford who has impressed since his arrival at Castle Park.

The only change in the pack sees Will Hafu preferred at openside flanker as Griffiths hopes his energy and skills can open the bridge between forwards and backs. Elsewhere the set-piece is unchanged as the Knights front eight look to continue their dominance on the road.

Doncaster Knights
15. Michael Keating 14. Dougie Flockhart 13. Connor Braid 12. Will Simpson
11. Tyson Lewis 10. Tom Luke 9. Joe Bedford
1. Tom Davies 2. Rhys Buckley 3. Tomas Francis 4. Matt Challinor
5. Dominic Parsons 6. Adam Kettle 7. Will Hafu 8. Chris Planchant

16. Brian McGovern 17. Jerry Cronin 18. Jack Bergmanis 19. Dan Smith
20. Sam Pailor 21. Chris Hallam 22. Jamie Lennard

What The Papers Say

Liam Hoden, The Star - Clive Griffiths May Sharp-En Up Knights

Clive Griffiths concedes he may have to field code switching winger Will Sharp sooner rather than later in a bid to ignite the Knights’ survival bid.

A 14-9 defeat to fellow strugglers London Scottish in a must-win clash at Castle Park last weekend left the Knights five points adrift of safety with only eight games to go.

Griffiths initially only wanted to field former Super League speedster Sharp when he was fully integrated into the rugby union set-up.

But after witnessing what he termed a “soul destroying” performance against Scottish, the Welshman believes it may be time to throw caution to the wind.

The Knights, meanwhile, head to play-off chasing Cornish Pirates on Sunday. “We’ve got to try different things or we’re not going to get anywhere,” added Griffiths.

Full Story www.thestar.co.uk

Other News This Week

Alan Paver's Upcoming 300th Appearance For Pirates On Sunday

Pirates Prop Alan Paver is set to make his 300th appearance for the Cornish Pirates in the match with Doncaster Knights on Sunday.

Barring sickness or injury another great day is about to arrive in the career of  highly popular prop forward ‘Paves’ our longest currently serving player, a truly remarkable milestone in the professional era, and one that only a small number of players achieve.

beat Munster at Camborne in 2010

Paves, now aged 35, joined the Pirates from Plymouth Albion in June 2002.

He has deservedly gained enormous respect during his time in Cornwall, indeed, he is held in high regard not just by his fellow players and supporters but also by the other clubs he has played against.

Ashley Smith Signs Loan Deal With Pirates

Wing Ashley Smith has signed a contract today that will see him join the Cornish Pirates on loan from London Welsh until the end of the season.

21 year-old Smith moved to London Welsh from London Wasps in June 2001 after spells at Stourbridge and Loughborough Students. At Loughborough he played alongside Phil Burgess, making 15 appearances and scoring 10 tries for the Students in National League 2 North.

Following his move to London Welsh in June 2011, he made his debut in the Middlesex Sevens and played his first full game against London Irish in a pre-season friendly.

He made 17 appearances for London Welsh, scoring three tries and captained their 7s team in last summer’s. J.P. Morgan Premiership Rugby Sevens series. He has also played sevens for Wolfpack 7s, Marauders and Templar.

Commenting on Smith’s signing, head coach Ian Davies said: “After featuring a good number of times for London Welsh last season, his chances in 2012-13 have been limited.”

“Ashley is blessed with genuine pace and has the attributes to lay down a real marker for us, especially when the pitches firm up.”

Leeds Carnegie v Newcastle Falcons - Sunday 13:00

Leeds CarnegieNewcastle FalconsLeeds Carnegie v Newcastle Falcons
Saturday 9th February 
Cross Green, Otley
Kick Off 1pm

Leeds Carnegie

Leeds Carnegie Head Coach Diccon Edwards has made three changes to his side following last week's win over Plymouth Albion for this Sunday's massive clash with unbeaten league leaders Newcastle Falcons at Otley RUFC, kick off 12 noon.

All three changes come in the back line with Craig Hampson replacing James Doherty at scrum half, Oli Goss coming for Josh Griffin at centre and Christian Georgiou starting on the wing in place of Matt Clark.

On the bench, new loan signings Ollie Frost and James Currie are set to make their debuts as replacements having arrived from Worcester Warriors this week for the rest of the season whilst Scott Freer and Pete Lucock are also drafted into the squad.

Dominic Barrow is still unavailable as he is with the England U20 squad in Ireland whilst Rory Clegg has been recalled this weekend by Harlequins.

Leeds Carnegie
15. Stevie McColl 14. Christian Georgiou 13. Oli Goss 12. Fred Burdon
11. David Doherty 10. Joe Ford 9. Craig Hampson
1. Ben Harris 2. Phil Nilsen 3. Damien Tussac  4. Calum Green
5. Mike Myerscough 6. Rob Baldwin 7. Jacob Rowan (c) 8. Ryan Burrows

16. Scott Freer 17. Lee Imiolek 18. James Currie 19. Matt Smith
20. Dominic Moon 21. Ollie Frost 22. Pete Lucock

Newcastle Falcons

Newcastle Falcons have made two changes for Sunday’s derby clash with Leeds Carnegie at Otley

Experienced internationals Rory Lawson and Taiasina Tu’ifua both come into the starting line-up as the Falcons aim to continue their unbeaten run with victory at the switched venue of Otley RFC

After a month without league action due to his side's British and Irish Cup exploits coupled with the blizzard conditions that swept the nation, Falcons boss Dean Richards has welcomed the return of Championship rugby.

“I’m really looking forward to this weekend’s game, and Leeds will be the biggest challenge that the boys will have faced since Bedford Blues away,” said Richards, who insists fourth placed Leeds will fancy their chances of being the first club to topple the Falcons this campaign

He added: “Leeds are a good side, they are coached well and speaking to a few boys down there, they are really up for this game.

“With the change of venue and kick-off time they will feel confident that they can turn us over, but I think it’s a great opportunity for us to show what we’re all about.”

12 points clear at the top of the table with 13 wins out of 13 and edging closer to cementing a play-off berth, Falcons lock James Goode cannot wait for Sunday’s derby duel, adding: “The boys can’t wait to get stuck into the league games again.

“Like many teams we have not had as much rugby as we would have liked due to the bad weather.

“We managed to get our cup game played at Cross Keys a week ago but we are now looking forward to the Championship stuff and getting back into it.

“That is what we are here for, trying to get back into the Premiership and wanting to continue our 100% record.”

Newcastle Falcons:
15 Tom Catterick, 14 Andrew Higgins, 13 Alex Crockett, 12 Jamie Helleur
11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Rory Lawson
1 Jonny Golding, 2 Rob Vickers, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 James Hudson
5 Scott MacLeod, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Taiasina Tu’ifua

16 Matt Thompson, 17 James Hall, 18 James Goode, 19 Ally Hogg
20 Warren Fury, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 Suka Hufanga

What The Papers Say

Mark Smith, The Journal - Dean Richards Sees The Need For Pitch Switch

DEAN Richards admits Sunday’s fixture switch to Otley is unusual, but recognises Leeds Carnegie had little alternative given the state of their Headingley pitch.

Upset more by the start time than the revised location, the Falcons boss said: “Having the game kick off at noon is a strange one and not something that will help us at all, not to mention our supporters travelling down to make the trip. That is unfortunately the way it is, though, and we will just have to get on with it.”

“The facilities are fine, and it is a nice club. As a rugby player you have got to play in all conditions and in all types of venues, and when we went there with Harlequins a few years back we really enjoyed it.

“I remember the grass being a little too long at the time, hopefully it will be a bit shorter on Sunday but it is what it is.”

Full Story  www.journallive.co.uk

Other News

Leeds Carnegie Sign Frost And Currie On Loan

Leeds Carnegie have signed Ollie Frost, 25, and James Currie, 22, on loan for the rest of the season from Worcester Warriors.

Scrum half, Frost, is a Warriors Academy product and former England U18 international, who has made 37 appearances for the club over the past three seasons and was part of their promotion winning side in 2010-11.

Currie, is a prop and former England U18 international who played for the Bath Academy until 2010, when he went onto play for Cornish Pirates. His performances for the Championship side brought him to the attention of the Worcester coaches who signed up the youngster last season.

Commenting on the signings Director of Rugby, Chris Gibson said: “We are delighted to have brought in two players of the quality of Ollie and James. They are both players who we have monitored for some time and they come highly recommended.

We feel they are quality additions to the squad who will add competition and strengthen our team as we push for a top four finish.”