Jersey is scoring highly with visiting rugby supporters this season with an average of over 350 fans per match travelling to Jersey to cheer on their teams. Based on information gathered by the Jersey Rugby Club, ticket sales show that more than 2,500 fans have visited the Island for the first seven games of the season, and this number is set to increase for the match against Newcastle Falcons on Saturday 24th November.
Since the Jersey Rugby Football Club’s 1st XV promotion to the RFU Championship, the numbers of supporting visitors making the journey across the Channel has so far exceeded expectations. Attendance figures for each match, including home fans, have been in the region of 2,000. Last month’s match against the Welsh club Pontypridd attracted upwards of 650 visiting supporters.
Building on the team’s sponsorship agreement with Jersey Tourism and Locate Jersey, Jersey Post are supporting the Championship action at this weekend’s match. They are providing the club with 1,000 free, postage-paid tourism postcards for all visiting fans to send home to friends and relatives, further raising Jersey’s profile as a visitor destination in cities across the UK.
The numbers of visitors coming to the Island to watch rugby during the quieter months of Jersey’s tourism season has resulted in welcome spend on travel, food and drink, shopping attractions and in the Island’s hotels.
The Minister for Economic Development, Senator Alan Maclean commented, ‘The decision to sponsor the Jersey Rugby Football Club was made in line with the Economic Growth and Diversification Strategy which supports year-round tourism and inward investment to the Island. The response that Jersey has received from visiting clubs and their supporters this season has been excellent and shows the value of this investment in terms of the profile of the island in our key UK market, increased visitor numbers and spend.’
Oliver Appleyard, Sales and Marketing Manager for Seymour Hotels commented, ‘There has certainly been a buzz around the Island during the home Championship matches. The Pomme d’Or has welcomed a number of fans so far this season with a large contingent from Bedford staying with us back in September. The overriding comment from fans was that they hoped Jersey succeeded in the Championship so that they could re-visit next year. We look forwarded to welcoming many more supporters over the coming months.’
Visiting clubs and supporters have been overwhelmingly positive with many expressing an intention to return. Initial reports have found that most of The Cornish Pirates’ visiting supporters stayed on the Island for three to four nights with one supporter quoting a total spend of £1,926 for a family of three for a four night stay including shopping, attractions, travel and accommodation.
Media coverage has also been supportive, with rugby reporters also writing general tourism articles on Jersey. One article by Richmond & Twickenham Times Sports Editor Stuart Amos, who spent a weekend enjoying Jersey’s golf, rugby, food and attractions includes a three day suggested itinerary for a rugby weekend in Jersey (http://www.yourlocalguardian.co.uk/sport/rugby/londonscottish/10023949.Scottish_hope_for_Jersey_re_visited/).
This weekend’s eagerly-awaited match against the Newcastle Falcons looks set to attract another big crowd, with visiting supporters arriving on a specially chartered flight. The JRFC will be offering guests the chance to pay to enjoy pre-match hospitality in a heated marquee with drinks at the bar, interviews with players and coaches and a three-course meal.