Former Reds star fears some players may have to retire

Michael Le Bourgeois in his days at Jersey

MICHAEL Le Bourgeois, who came through the ranks at Jersey Reds, said his first thoughts go out to the players and staff employed by the club, after learning of their impending liquidation.

Le Bourgeois is one of only a handful of players from Jersey to make it through to the professional ranks. He came through the academy before breaking into the first team in 2008.

After one season with the club in the Championship, he joined rivals Bedford Blues where he remains ten years later, having also spent four years in the Premiership with Wasps, the famous club that also suffered financial troubles leading to liquidation last year.

With Worcester Warriors and London Irish also folding, professional club rugby is in a precarious situation in England.

‘It’s very disappointing for the Island and it’s another warning shot that something has to be done to make it more sustainable, otherwise the fame is going to be eradicated,’ said Le Bourgeois.

‘Coming off the back of Covid, it’s been a difficult time for Premiership sides but the Championship teams and clubs below them have been really suffering but this has come out of the blue and it is really shocking. It’s a sad day for the club.

‘There’s obviously many parts to it and I share my thoughts for those who are employed by the club, the staff behind the scenes and the players themselves. They may have known what was going on but all they can do is turn up at the weekend and put on a show.’

With so many players losing employment at other clubs that have gone to the wall, Reds’ demise means dozens more players looking for a new club, though Le Bourgeois fears it could be worse than that for many of them.

‘Boys might have to retire, they might have to look for work outside of rugby and give up on their day job,’ he added. ‘It’s not a nice place to be in but hopefully they can get some sort of help.’

Meanwhile, others have been quick to share their thoughts on social media, including James Hewlett, who commented: ‘Devastated. Having watched the club grow from a distant amateur club to one of the best in the land. We should be in the Prem this season. I am proud to have played a small and insignificant part in making Jersey Reds what they are. I can’t understand how we got to this stage.’

Coventry head coach Alex Rae, who is a former Jersey Reds captain, said on social media: ‘Ggutted to hear this, great club & have fantastic memories.

‘How’s this been allowed to happen?’