A PREMIERSHIP triple-header provides an ‘awesome’ opportunity for Jersey Reds to begin a three-year cycle which they hope will end with a Championship title.
That is the belief of club chairman Mark Morgan as he and hundreds of Caesarean rugby supporters prepare to back the Reds through what is undoubtedly the most high-profile pre-season schedule in their history.
Top-flight champions Leicester Tigers are the first visitors to St Peter on Friday, before London Irish and Bath follow suit over the next fortnight.
All three have journeyed across the Channel in the ten years since Jersey were promoted to the Championship – Tigers on three previous occasions – but the Islanders have not welcomed three Premiership clubs in succession before.
Morgan says it should provide the Reds’ squad for 2022/23 with invaluable experience.
‘I think it’s unprecedented in Channel Islands sport for three Premiership teams to be visiting and playing an Island side back to back,’ he said. ‘While we know it’s unlikely we’ll beat any of them, last season we did give both Leicester and Sale a good run out.
‘Games like this help to bring your players up to Premiership standards and to have three games in a row is awesome.’
He added: ‘Our stated aim is to win the Championship by 2025 and we’re treating the next three years as a proof-of-concept period. Firstly, can we do it? If we can, what’s the next step? We know there are certain requirements, but do we go into the Premiership?’
Jersey claimed back-to-back wins over Irish in 2016/17, when the Exiles were a Championship club. A 15-11 league victory was followed seven days later by a 25-17 success in the British & Irish Cup semi-finals. The Reds also finished 17-14 up when they met in 2018/19.
Tigers won 17-7 when they travelled to Stade Santander 12 months ago, with Sale Sharks then claiming a 19-0 triumph at the same venue.