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JERSEY REDS’ ability to compete with wealthier rugby rivals is ‘astounding’, according to 2003 World Cup winner Kyran Bracken.

The former Islander still has strong family ties to Jersey and confessed a ‘sense of pride’ in watching the Caesareans fight for their first RFU Championship crown.

The Reds sit just one point behind leaders Ealing in the second tier of English rugby with just two league matches remaining.

The pair are set set to square off at St Peter this weekend, in a game that could decide the title.

Neither outfit are eligible for promotion this season, but Bracken believes that will have no bearing on their desire to be champions.

The former England international said: ‘I don’t think it will matter that neither Ealing or Jersey can get promoted.

‘The rules surrounding the Premiership requirements are very muddy, in that there are current teams that wouldn’t match the criteria. With that being said, both outfits will be after bragging rights and winning the Championship crown is a massive achievement in its own right.

‘It’s pretty astounding really, that Jersey are able to compete with many of the more wealthy mainland outfits.

‘I was more in touch with the Championship when Saracens went down and there are no easy games at that level. The Reds have a really impressive knack of being towards to the top year upon year and to think they have a shot at winning the Championship this year is really impressive.

‘Despite the fact I haven’t played for Jersey, I feel very proud of them watching on from afar.’

The scrum-half played 51 times for England and 128 for Saracens over a ten-year period and believes there are few better sides that a budding rugby player could sign for.

He said: ‘I can’t imagine a better place for a young rugby player who isn’t in the Premiership to go.

‘The amount of talent that has come through the system shows that the academy is strong and the constant flow just proves that there is longevity in the club and what they are doing is working.

‘I said to my son, who has just signed a university contract with Saracens, that wouldn’t it be great to stay at my mum and dads and play for Jersey at some stage.

‘My eldest is playing for England U20s and the youngest for England U18s, so it would be great if that chance arose.

‘We have spent many summers on the Island and I couldn’t imagine of anything better than getting to see either of them suit up for the Reds.’

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