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Falcons first for Reds

Rugby | Published:

JERSEY REDS will have to hit the ground running as they host Premiership-relegated Newcastle Falcons in the Championship Cup in their season opener.

Harvey Biljon's Reds will face a 'baptism of fire' as they clash with promotion favourites Newcastle Falcons first. Picture: OSKAR PAPIERZ. (24495807)

But they will have to wait until October for their 22-game league campaign to kick-off – they welcome Coventry to Stade Santander on the weekend of the 12th.

Faced with the prospect of tackling the by-definition ‘best’ team in the league first, which could feature former Reds Gary Graham, who has played for Scotland, and Sam Lockwood, Biljon said: ‘No doubt it’s a baptism of fire to face Newcastle first. but I think it’s a pretty tough fixture list overall if I’m honest – we are facing the promotion favourites four times this season which is a challenge.

‘The way it has been blocked out is going to put us under real pressure for four or five games on the bounce, so this season is going to be a serious test.’

The way it has been blocked out is going to put us under real pressure for four or five games on the bounce, so this season is going to be a serious test

Jersey Reds director of rugby Harvey Bilon

With the start of the league season being pushed back to accommodate the World Cup, it gives Biljon more time to prepare his men, but whether his two charges likely to be playing in Japan (Janco Venter for Namibia and Leeroy Atalifo for Fiji) will be back is still unclear.

‘I don’t think we will have the World Cup boys back for the start of the season, despite it starting later,’ said Biljon, ‘and if you look closely at our opening games in the league it is going to be a real tough start. We are facing Coventry, who will be looking at top three this season, first, then Ealing away, who are going to be pushing for the Premiership, and then Doncaster, who have recruited really well and have a very strong new coaching set-up. We are then up to face Newcastle away which is arguably the toughest test in the league.

‘But the way we see it there are no easy games for us this season. Would we have preferred the season to be blocked out and spread out differently, yes. But at the end of the day it’s a challenge, and we are looking forward to going out there and mixing it with some top teams again, and I’m confident in our ability to do well.’

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Championship Cup pools

Pool 1: Ampthill, Bedford Blues, Coventry, Ealing Trailfinders

Pool 2: Doncaster Knights, Hartpury RFC, Jersey Reds, Newcastle Falcons

Pool 3: Cornish Pirates, London Scottish, Nottingham, Yorkshire Carnegie

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Jersey Reds Championship Cup fixtures

(weekend of only – potentially Fri/Sat or Sun)

September

21: Newcastle Falcons (H)

28 Sep: Hartpury RFC (A)

October

5: Doncaster Knights (A)

Nov 30 Doncaster (H)

December

7: Hartpury RFC (H)

13: Newcastle Falcons (A)

Jersey Reds GK IPA Championship fixtures (dates weekend of only)

12 Oct: Coventry (H)

19 Oct: Ealing Trailfinders (A)

26 Oct: Doncaster Knights (H)

2 Nov: Newcastle Falcons (A)

9 Nov: Nottingham (H)

16 Nov: Ampthill (A)

21/28 Dec London Scottish (H)

11 Jan: Hartpury (A)

18 Jan: Cornish Pirates (H)

25 Jan: Yorkshire Carnegie (H)

1 Feb: Bedford Blues (A)

8 Feb: Ealing Trailfinders (H)

15 Feb: Doncaster Knights (A)

29 Feb: Newcastle Falcons (H)

14 Mar: Nottingham (A)

21 Mar: Ampthill (H)

28 Mar: London Scottish (A)

4 Apr: Hartpury (H)

11 Apr: Cornish Pirates (A)

25 Apr: Yorkshire Carnegie (A)

2 May: Bedford Blues (H)

9 May: Coventry (A)

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