Morgan and the Reds set for club's biggest day

Morgan and the Reds set for club's biggest day
Mark Morgan has been Jersey chairman since 2016 - photo credit Rich Chapman

Jersey Chairman Mark Morgan admits the Reds' rise to the summit of the second tier of English rugby, and to within touching distance of a first Championship title, has come sooner than even he anticipated.

The thrilling 19-13 win over title rivals Ealing Trailfinders at the weekend sent the islanders above their opponents and two points clear at the top of the table, with just one match remaining.

A win over mid-table Ampthill at the Stade Santander International on Saturday (29 April) will be enough to secure Harvey Biljon and his side a first piece of silverware in more than a decade. If it happens, it'll be quite some party and one of the biggest success stories in Jersey's sporting history. A slip up, though, and the trophy could still be heading back to Ealing, again. The job's not quite done yet and Ampthill will be keen to spoil the celebrations.

Just nine years ago, almost to the very day, Jersey survived relegation back to National One by a single point, claiming a nerve-jangling win at Bedford on the last day of the season. The progress since then up through the division, year-on-year, has been gradual but plain to see. Seventh in 2015. Sixth in 2016. Fifth in 2017 and 2018. Fourth in 2019 and 2022. You don't need the graph to appreciate the direction of travel, but most might have thought a realistic top-spot bid would still be a year or two off. Not so. It's been a two-horse race throughout, really, and now the finish line is within sight.

Morgan has experienced a fair few standout moments in his seven years at the Jersey helm. Wins over London Irish and Bristol will live long in the memory of all who watched them, and a run to the British and Irish Cup final in 2017 is surely among the highlights. But a win this Saturday, and all that would signify, would likely top the lot.

He told "When I took over, we were an OK, mid-table team and working with Harvey and the guys we've slowly consolidated our position over the last three to four years to the point where we're now contenders.

"I'm surprised, I didn't think we'd quite get there this year, but my goodness what a show from the boys. I think fourth is our best ever finish, and we've never been within sniffing distance [before]."

Jersey Reds scored three tries in their win over Ealing on Saturday - photo credit Sue Armes

More than 3,000 supporters watched the narrow win over Ealing, with Biljon and Head Coach Rob Webber both paying tribute, in their post-match interviews, to the noisy backing given from terraces. The boards were banging, the bells were ringing.

The chairman is hopeful islanders will again pack into St Peter this weekend to cheer Biljon's army over the line. Morgan added: "What I really hope is that people in the island have now started to understand just what we're looking at here.

"We know that if we don't win [vs Ampthill] and Ealing do [win] then we're not going to be champions. Last week [at Bedford] was big, this week's been huge, and next week is the biggest. They've got to be up for it, and they will be."

Jersey against Ampthill kicks off at 3pm on Saturday (29 April) at the Stade Santander International.