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Jersey Reds’ pro squad told to fly home

Rugby | Published:

JERSEY REDS have advised their players to leave the Island and return home to their families, with the club’s chairman seeing no justifiable reason for the current season to be completed.

Jersey Reds chairman Mark Morgan expects the stands at St Peter to remain closed for the rest of the season Picture: ROB CURRIE

The RFU imposed a nationwide suspension on all professional and community rugby on Monday evening amid increasing concerns over coronavirus – advising a halt to training and league fixtures until at least Tuesday 14 April.

The decision leaves Jersey’s professional squad without an agenda of any kind for at least four weeks and as government guidelines both here and in the UK offer increasingly restrictive travel advice the large majority are believed to be departing while they still can. Only a small handful of Harvey Biljon’s side have laid down roots in the Island with partners and children. The rest house-share with team-mates and Reds chief Mark Morgan does not expect all of them to return.

‘We’ve told them that they should go home to be with their family and friends,’ he explained. ‘We don’t want them to be stuck here in Jersey if the travel restrictions become more onerous. For those of us who live here it’s alright, but that’s not the case for most of the lads. And we cannot do anything with them for four weeks anyway, so there’s no point in them sitting around here.’

Further updates from the RFU are expected as the health crisis develops but Morgan cannot see a way forward for 2019/20. Player contracts expire on 31 May, meaning the eight remaining Championship rounds would need to be squeezed into a six-week spell.

‘We can’t run into June,’ said Morgan. ‘We can’t have them playing in June when pre-season for the new season starts on 1 July. And from a practical perspective, if we’ve had four weeks without training you can’t then go out and play professional rugby. The injuries will be horrendous. It’s just not acceptable from a player-welfare point of view.

‘I feel the RFU need to be brave and make the call ... say “that’s it for this season” and reorganise for next season.

‘I’d be really surprised if they didn’t do that.’

Jersey were due to host three Ampthill squads to St Peter this Saturday to play Championship, Raging Bull Shield and National Challenge fixtures, featuring Reds Athletic and the women’s side.

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Morgan says his team are considering refunds for both matchday tickets and corporate lunches, although a decision will not be made until the RFU officially calls time on the campaign.

‘It’s something we’re looking at but if the fixtures are to be replayed [after 14 April] it’s unlikely we’ll offer refunds,’ Morgan said. ‘There are a lot of what ifs at the moment so it’s hard to make a definitive call.

‘It was going to be a real gala-day of sport, but there we are ... we just have to crack on.’

Jason Fox

By Jason Fox
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