Jersey take second spot (again!)
Jersey’s hopes of finally ending England’s dominance of the Home Nations competition yet again proved too tough a nut to crack. For the fourth year in a row they gave the English team a real run for their money, but yet again had to settle for runners-up spot – and that was only achieved on points difference after finishing on an equal number of wins with Wales.
“Unfortunately, the experience and depth of the England side eventually shone through,” said team manager Steve Foster. “Having said that, I’m incredibly proud of our performance. We have confirmed that Jersey is once again (just) the second best team in the UK, a wonderful result given the restricted numbers we have available and our insular position. It has been a privilege to be the team manager and I am proud of the way we conducted ourselves both on and off the terrain.”
The Home Nations event involves a marathon schedule of two days of play with 192 matches between triples teams representing the four home nations. Jersey suffered a real setback in their first match going down to a 6-2 defeat by England. They bounced back with victories against Scotland (6-2) and Wales (5-3) but the championship was won and lost in Jersey’s second game against England which ended in a disastrous 8-nil scoreline. Further wins against Scotland (5-3) and Wales (6-2) were scant consolation.
Day 2 started with another match against England and the Island team knew they had to win it convincingly to stand any chance of pulling off an overall victory, but despite a better performance they went down to a 5-3 defeat (a result that was repeated in the afternoon session) and from then onwards it was all about seeing off the challenge of Wales who came back strongly as the day wore on. Jersey’s final match was against Wales but despite losing 5-3 The Islanders had enough points in the bag to claim the runners-up spot.
Overall England won 63 games. Jersey and Wales were tied on 45 wins each but Jersey had a much better points difference (plus 3 compared to Wales’ minus 135) while Scotland finished on 39 wins. The top Jersey trio received an award for their achievement. They were the Island number one seeds, Geoffroy Buffetrille, Neil Selby and Laurent Pellaton who won nine of their 12 games. Another Jersey trio also recorded nine wins, Matt Pinel, James Rondel and John Lane.
England have won the event every year since its inception in the year 2000 (although Jersey only entered the competition for the first time in 2016 when Ireland dropped out). The Islanders will get another opportunity to wrestle the crown from England’s grasp next August, but they’ll have to do so on their home turf as next year’s competition is scheduled to take place in Royal Leamington Spa.
Top Jersey team – Neil, Geoffroy & Laurent