I made a deal with the Devil last week, and he got the better of it.  On Tuesday morning I promised that I’d run hard on Tuesday evening in return for another few minutes in bed.  That turned into three hard sessions on consecutive days, rarely a good idea.  I was therefore looking forward to a nice slow plod on Sunday and duly set off from the top car park at Val de la Mare.  Within minutes I knew that it was one of ‘those’ runs, one where the tank is just empty.  They’re becoming less familiar these days but most unwelcome.  It turned into a slow walk/jog around the reservoir, the best bits of which were (1) seeing Grant Stenhouse out coaching a small junior group in a hill session and (2) Peter Le Couilliard being harassed by a playful boxer dog. 

Drawing a swift veil over the week’s running I headed for St Peter and the top-of-the-table clash between JRFC and Ealing Trailfinders.  Rugby is the only game in town right now, regularly drawing four figure crowds as the First XV march up the national rugby ladder.  Everything about the rugby club these days is impressive.  Everybody remembers the days when they had a good club side and always gave a warm welcome to visiting clubs, on and off the pitch.  Indeed in the pre-professional days the hospitality at the old clubhouse at the west end of the pitch was both legendary and dangerous.  The pitch was often a quagmire though and shelter from the elements was, as I recall, totally absent. 

Then something happened and it was a mixture of serendipity and damn good stewardship.  The splendid new clubhouse was built together with the adjoining Bowl.  Whatever order things happened the rugby lads will know, but the money started flowing, the age-group coaching was revolutionised and the First XV started to become successful in the new professional setup.  In the last few seasons we have seen paid development officers and coaches, and now more and more players.  There is a strong and capable committee running things and, island-wide, everything is geared towards the success of Jersey rugby as a whole with the junior clubs being made to feel a part of things rather than rivals.  Sponsors are being beaten off with a stick as far as I can tell, even in these troubled times.  The whole thing zings with energy, and it certainly did on Saturday. 

An indication of the new ‘can-do’ attitude was the signings during the week of top players David Doherty (ex Sale, Leeds Rhinos and the England Saxons) and James Copsey (ex Esher and Gloucester).  They came straight in to bolster the squad who have a few injury problems.  Both played a big part in the Jersey win and they looked as pleased as anyone at the end.  Jersey turned around only 13-5 up having had the gale at their backs in the first half.  It looked only a matter of time before Ealing made them pay.  However the game was transformed when substitute Nick Trower rampaged down the field through tackle after tackle.  Instantly Jersey regained the intensity they lost 2.5 games ago and never looked back.  A great game to watch between two excellent teams.  Oh, if you’re looking for an athletics connection, young Trower is the nephew of John who used to be Steve Backley’s coach! 

Miles on the week – 12.7
Miles ytd – 1,162.7

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