Reds Women braced for long-awaited return

AFTER an absence from full-contact rugby of more than 16 months, Jersey Reds Women are back in action at St Peter on Friday.

Jersey Reds Women last played a competition rugby match against St Francis in February last year Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (31501225)
Jersey Reds Women last played a competition rugby match against St Francis in February last year Picture: DAVID FERGUSON. (31501225)

The game against amateur Irish side, Cooke Women’s RFC, had been arranged as a warm-up for the Siam weekend, which was due to be held on 28 August but has been postponed.

Instead, the friendly will act as a ‘curtain raiser’ for the National Challenge South 2 league season, which starts in just over a month’s time.

Jersey Reds Women’s first league game is away to Seaford on 10 October, their first since beating Hove II away on 1 March last year.

Jersey Reds Women’s manager and former player, Christelle Mangematin, says ‘the game will be a good assessment of how fit, strong and powerful the girls are’.

She adds: ‘Until last week we’d had no access to gym facilities for over a year, nor have we been able to have full contact training. Instead, we have had to try and maintain our fitness levels by running on the dunes and playing games on the beach.’

The match kicks off at the Rugby Club on the main pitch in front of the grandstand at 7pm and spectators are encouraged to attend with free entrance.

Because the match is the first chance for both teams to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses since Covid restrictions have been lifted, the game is being played in three 20-minute chunks with 10-minute breaks in between.

This will give the players a chance to rest and will give coaching staff more opportunities to bring on substitutes and try various tactics.

The Irish side are travelling with a playing team of only 17.

Cooke Women’s RFC are based in South Belfast in Northern Ireland and they are an arm of the oldest junior rugby club in the city, formed in 1910, competing in the Women’s All Ireland League. When the teams last met four years ago, victory went to the Reds.

The home team is hoping for a repeat performance.

Jersey Reds Women’s head coach, Simon Le Moignan, believes ‘the Irish side could well be in for a bit of a surprise’. He took over coaching the Reds women towards the end of April and, in keeping with their wishes, has been working on developing a more expansive game, concentrating on improving the players’ ball skills, off-loading, and game management.

He has also employed the services of some of the over 40s men, getting the women to do pad work with them for the last 20 minutes of their Tuesday night training sessions.

Le Moignan says while the team can rely on the experience of many of its players – in particular a strong set of forwards – it is also strengthened by four players making their debuts.

This he believes will add freshness to the team and assure the future of women’s rugby in the Island.

Squad: Amber Hopwood, Hannah Le Moignan, Franky Vautier, Emma Gunton, Willow Le Luan, Abbie Syvret, Katie De La Cloche, Kerry Bertram, Laura Turpin, Lauren Lowe, Tina Davies, Amy Lambert, Taye Boakye-Yiadom, Ellie Dargie, Emily Hart, Lucy Hart, Georgie Keens, Emilie Langland, Aisling, Jade Knight, Stacy Benstead, Izzy Culnane.

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