Good afternoon everyone and welcome to the Stade Santander International, for round 14 of the Greene King IPA Championship.
I’d like to extend another warm welcome to the London Scottish squad – hopefully the journey to St Peter will be smoother this time!
We have faced a different challenge in training this week. We are fresh off 2 disappointing results - we were not at the races physically against London Irish, and we were wasteful with our opportunities against Pirates in the cup. The last time we faced this challenge was after our first 2 games of the season when we, again, met London Scottish.
Although I said the result was disappointing against Cornish Pirates last week there were some pleasing markers of performance there. The way our forwards and backs supported line breaks showed great effort levels and understanding, we just needed to be more accurate!
As always this was backed up by the whole squad in training again this week. Selection shows how hard everyone is working, and I’m excited to watch the players, who have earned their place in the team, perform!
Thank you for your continued support,
Ed Robinson, Assistant Coach
Currently ninth in the Greene King IPA Championship, London Scottish have made a decent start to 2019, with convincing wins over Hartpury and Nottingham plus a close tussle at Vallis Way against Ealing that eventually finished 34-26 to Trailfinders.
The Exiles' season started in September with three straight defeats before the campaign was kick-started with a comeback win on home turf against the Reds, who led 10-24 at the break but were eventually beaten 27-24. This was followed by an impressive 23-26 win at Bedford in round 5, and three weeks later by a 5-17 success against Yorkshire Carnegie.
November and December saw a slump in form, with six straight defeats including the last five pool matches in the Championship Cup.
The Exiles and the Reds have met on 17 occasions at this level since 2012; the Reds lead 10-7 overall, although in league matches the Scots hold a narrow 7-6 advantage.
London Scottish FC was formed in Mackay's Tavern in the City of London in 1878. The first season featured 15 matches, and three of the opposing clubs are still in existence - Wasps, Twickenham and Guy's Hospital. The Exiles moved to their present ground the Richmond Athletic Ground, which they share with Richmond FC, in 1894.
London Scottish began the league era in 1987 at level two, and by 1998 were a fully-professional unit playing in the Premiership. However this was also the season that the pro club went into administration, necessitating a year out while the original club was reformed and placed into Herts/ Middlesex Division One (level nine) in 2000.
Over the next 11 seasons, the Exiles were promoted seven times and reached the RFU Championship 12 months before Jersey arrived at level two. Since then they have predominantly achieved mid-table finishes, exceptions being coming third in 2014/15 (followed by a play-off defeat to Worcester) and last season, when a record of six wins and a draw resulted in a final ranking of 11th.
Meet the opposition
Nic Rouse joined London Scottish in summer 2018 after leaving his post with Rotherham Titans and reports to Director of Rugby Dave Morris.
Rouse played for Nottingham, London Irish and Sale Sharks as a hard tackling second row, renowned for his lineout expertise and graft, voted by his fellow players as Player of the Year in 2015. In well over 150 games for Nottingham he was selected for the Championship Dream Team on three occasions and so knows this division very well.
Since retiring through injury in 2016, Rouse has been coaching at London Irish and most recently was Acting Head Coach at Rotherham Titans, leading their revival in the second half of last season including a good win in the derby match against Yorkshire Carnegie.
Rouse, whose 38th birthday is tomorrow, is now hoping for a more successful season with Scottish under his leadership and will be looking to improve the team’s 11th-placed finish last season.
Scrum half Grayson Hart is the heartbeat of the London Scottish side. The 30-year-old former Scotland international is a complete number nine, using his experience playing for the likes of Auckland Blues, the Waratahs, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Worcester Warriors to mould a playing style for every situation. He is an astute and tactical kicker, a solid defender and a wise scrum half around the fringes.
Born and raised in New Zealand, Hart qualified for Scotland through his maternal grandmother and won his three full international caps in 2014 against Canada, Argentina and South Africa. In 2017 he was part of the Scotland Sevens squad alongside former Jersey players Glenn Bryce and Jack Cuthbert.
Lewis Wynne loves tackling, and team-mates reckon he could tackle an oncoming elephant around the ankles if he had to. The player on loan from Glasgow Warriors has been a revelation this season for the Scots. A gritty and hardworking openside flanker who does the hard yards that are not often seen by a supporter. As well as his defensive capabilities, Wynne is also a useful carrier of the ball and is invariably towards the top of the carry charts for a game.
Wynne, 22, has been in superb form this season and was called back by the SRU this season in November to play for Edinburgh on two occasions in the Pro14 on a short-term loan.
Wynne is part of a very strong back row at Scottish that will have to be at their best this afternoon as they face the large and imposing Jersey pack.
The next one...
After three weeks without a home game, the Reds will be back at Stade Santander International for the second and final 'Friday Night Lights' match of the season.
An exciting game is in prospect - why not make a night of it and book your space in the marquee for the pre-match meal? Marquee places and tickets available via Eventbrite. Please note this is definitely a Friday night game, in spite of what's stated on Google - we are aware of this data issue, which affects all Championship clubs, and seeking to remedy it.