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Premiership 7s & Aviva A League a big opportunity for school leavers to make their mark

The Aviva Premiership released the fixture list for the 2014/15 season this week, an exciting moment for many fans, however of particular interest for fans of schools rugby was the release of the Aviva A League fixtures and the Premiership 7s fixtures.

The reason for that is that these two competitions have been highly populated with players just out of school and on academy contracts, and even in some exceptional cases with players still at school. For instance Bryanston’s Max Clark featured for Bath in both the Premiership 7s and Aviva A League as a schoolboy last year.

The 7s, naturally, comes first and this year there is a bit of a shake up as the four Welsh regions are also involved. The series is kicked off at the Cardiff Arms Park on the 26th July with an all Welsh group. With the top two from each group stage qualifying for the finals, that means a guarantee of two Welsh sides at the Stoop for the finals.

That group at the Arms Park is followed by three Groups in a row; at Kingsholm on Thursday 31st July, at Franklin’s Gardens on the 1st August, and at Kingston Park on Saturday the 2nd.

The top two from each group then gather again a week later on Friday the 8th August at Twickenham Stoop for the finals, with a place at the World Club 7s the carrot for the winners.

The group stages will certainly see plenty of involvement for younger players, while the finals day squads will likely depend on what stage of pre season fitness certain teams are at, and indeed how seriously they are taking the competition.

One that they will definitely be taking seriously though is the Aviva A League , which has become a valuable way for teams to assess youngsters, blood potential first team players, and reintroduce first team players on the way back from injury.

Last year it was won by Bath United, who beat Northampton Saints Wanderers 29-20 in the final, and both gave plenty of their young players some welcome game time, including all of their many England U20 JWC winning stars.

As ever the A League will take place on Monday evenings, with the first round beginning on Monday 8th September.

Last year’s runner up, Northampton Wanderers, will begin their campaign away at Kingsholm against Gloucester, however last year’s champions, Bath, have to wait until the following Monday to kick off their A League season. They face Harlequins at home in the Rec.

Elsewhere in the opening round Saracens Storm welcome Exeter Braves, who may not have quite the number of youngsters in the side as one would imagine as they have loaned out nine players to the Cornish Pirates.

London Irish host newly promoted London Welsh, and London Wasps travel to Harlequins at the Stoop – with Quins likely to have a very exciting young squad they will be a team to keep an eye on.

Leicester Tigers welcome Newcastle Falcons, while Sale Jets travel to Bristol United. Both Bristol and Worcester take part in the A League despite being in the Championship next season.

For those who have been following schools rugby over the last few years, this competition is a great chance to see a few of the stars from those school teams making their first step towards 1st XV rugby.

Premiership 7s & A League Fixtures:

2014 Premiership 7s Series:

Group A:

Saturday 26th July, from 19.15 – Cardiff Arms Park.

Teams: Cardiff Blues, Dragons, Ospreys, Scarlets.

Group B:

Thursday 31st July, from 19.15 – Kingsholm.

Teams: Bath, Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester, London Irish.

Group C:

Friday 1st August, from 19.15 – Franklin’s Gardens.

Teams: Harlequins, London Wasps, Northampton Saints, Saracens.

Group D:

Saturday 2nd August, from 19.15 – Kingston Park.

Teams: Leicester Tigers, London Welsh, Newcastle Falcons, Sale Sharks.

Finals Day:

Friday 8th August, from 18.00 – Twickenham Stoop.

Teams: Top two from each Group.

Aviva A League Fixtures:

First Round, Monday 8th September:

Bristol United v Sale Jets – Memorial Ground

Gloucester United v Northampton Wanderers – Kingsholm

Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons – Welford Road

Harlequins v London Wasps – Twickenham Stoop

London Irish v London Welsh – The Avenue

Saracens Storm v Exeter Braves – Allianz Park

For the fixtures for the rest of the Aviva A League season, please follow this link:

http://www.premiershiprugby.com/matchcentre/fixtures/aviva_a_league.php

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