As December kicks in it's a huge month for the Reds….
After a bruising encounter against Doncaster last week there is no let up as we approach the end of the Championship Cup Group Stages.
This week we take on Hartpury University who will be full of confidence and belief after our 1st cup game where they were dominant in many areas of that game. The last time they visited the Island in March they walked away with a tight, hard fought victory.
Make no mistakes, they will come here with a clear plan of how to win and a never say die attitude that we must be wary of. A dangerous side, Hartpury have added strength to their squad in the last few weeks bringing in a number of Premiership players on loan. With a strong set piece and some very talented players amongst their group we are going to have to be firing on all cylinders come kick-off if we are to get another win in front of our home support.
With a decent history in the cup competition this week is must win for us if we are to secure a spot in the knockout stages.
We absolutely love the support from the home crowd and can't wait to get out there on Saturday afternoon and do the Island proud.
Bang The Boards & Shake Your Cow Bells….
Hartpury's inaugural season in the Greene King IPA Championship featured a battle to acclimatise to level 2 rugby, but six wins and a draw from 22 games helped them achieve 10th place in the table. Last season the tally of wins rose to seven, with 36 points just enough to finish 11th, three points clear of Richmond in the battle to avoid relegation.
In five previous clashes with the Reds, Hartpury have shown they are not a team to be underestimated. On their last visit to Stade Santander International a Reds’ win over the Championship’s bottom side seemed a certainty to many people, but after an early Jerry Sexton try, the home team were below par. Hartpury drew level (7-7) in the 10th minute and the game looked set to be a low-scoring draw before Sam Leeming’s late penalty sealed a crucial win for his side, a key result in the battle at the bottom.
Three other encounters have also been close – the Reds won by margins of just one and four points in 2017/18, and by 13-24 in a Championship Cup encounter at the end of September this year. The lone exception to this trend was in October 2018, when the visiting Jersey side cut loose in scoring seven tries to win 14-52.
Familiar faces in the visiting line-up could include scrum-half/wing Harry Cochrane, a former Jersey mini/junior player who briefly tasted first team action for the Reds in 2012/13, and back row man Seb Nagle-Taylor, part of the Reds squad in 2017/18 before heading to Rotherham and subsequently to Hartpury.
Hartpury University and adjoining Hartpury College in Gloucestershire, is an institution which was originally established as an agricultural college in 1947, since when its scale and scope has increased significantly.
The college's rugby side was formed in 2000 and now boasts a string of national titles, and in 2004 Hartpury RFC entered the RFU leagues. With a close tie-in with near neighbours Gloucester that continues to this day, Hartpury won a series of promotions, culminating in a stunning 2016/17 season when they won all 30 of their games in National 1.
So far this season, Hartpury have won three of their six Greene King IPA Championship ties to place seventh in the table. But their Championship Cup campaign has featured four straight defeats to make it very unlikely they will be involved in the knock-out stages of the competition.
Meet the opposition
Luke is in his first season at the Alpas Arena – having joined Hartpury from Ealing Trailfinders – and, as a player with good experience at this level, was quickly appointed as skipper for the Championship challenge ahead.
He was a big favourite in West London, where he had established himself as the primary scrum half in a very strong squad, before injury disrupted his 2018-19 season. During his time with Ealing he played a large part in bringing home some silverware, in the form of the British and Irish Cup, which was won at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.
Prior to joining Trailfinders, Carter had spent some time playing with another (then) Championship club, Rotherham Titans, as well as at Cinderford, Rosslyn Park and Bracknell.
More commonly known as Bert, Gibson is a classic example of the success of the Hartpury ‘production line’.
He played student rugby as part of both the high-achieving Hartpury College U18 programme and as a member of the University team that has won the past three BUCS Super Rugby play-offs at Twickenham, playing in all three showpiece finals.
Considered to be a strong scrummager, Gibson also possesses a good pair of hands, attributes that led to him being offered a contract by the club after he graduated in the summer of 2019.
An injury to regular tight-head, former Gloucester prop Rupert Harden, have seen him start in a lot of the matches so far this season and he continues to develop as a consistent performer at Championship level.
Date of Birth: 11.06.99
Place of Birth: Sydney
Weight: 98kg/15st 8lb
Previous Clubs: Sale Sharks (season's loan 2019-20), Sale FC, Rotherham Titans
Honours: England u18, u20
Sponsors: 3Ci Sport
Date of Birth: 06.04.98
Place of Birth: Sydney
Weight: 117kg/18st 6lbs
Previous Clubs: Southern Districts (Aus)