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School leavers dominate Aviva A League squads on opening night

The Aviva A League kicks off the evening with six great fixtures, and so far the team selections have suggested a serious focus on youth development.

There are numerous school leavers from the past couple of seasons, plus one or two players who are still competing at schoolboy level now.

Bristol United have named a fairly experience line up following their senior victory over Worcester this weekend in the Greene King IPA Championship but have plenty of youthful talent on the bench.

Last year’s Millfield School captain Callum Sheedy will cover fly half, with his 2012/13 school half back partner Tim Turner also on the bench along with Ellis Genge and Jake Polledri from Filton Collge. Their opponents Sale are yet to announce their side.

Gloucester United name a glut of England U20 JWC winners from the past couple of years in their 23, including last year’s U20 captain, Callum Braley. He is joined by half back partner Billy Burns, wing Henry Purdy, second row Elliot Stooke, and back row man Joe Batley.

Hartpury College leaver Will Safe starts at number eight, while former Dean Close fly half and England U18 pivot Lloyd Evans is on the bench, along with current Warwick School scrum half, Harry Bassett, a former England U16 international.

Lining up opposite them for Northampton Wanderers are JWC winners Tom Stephenson and Howard Packman, with their fellow winners Sam Olver, Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi, and Jordan Onojaife all on the bench.

Former Trent College hooker James Fish is on the bench along with Rory Hutchinson and Josh Skelcey, with Rugby School and England U18 fly half/inside centre Harry Mallinder joining them. Also on the bench is former St Joseph’s College captain Lewis Ludlum, also an U18 international, while his former St Joseph’s colleague, Alex Day, starts at scrum half.

Harlequins have gone all out for youth in their A team fixture with London Wasps A. They start with two JWC winning number eight’s in their side, former England U18 captain and Brighton College man, James Chisholm at 8 and the 2013 JWC captain Jack Clifford at 7.

In the backline Harry Sloan starts at twelve, he is one of the few players to have been involved in both JWC triumphs, he is partnered by England U18 fly half/centre Joe Marchant, with the current Wellington College full back, Sam Aspland-Robinson, starting behind them.

The Quins bench is packed with school leavers, Cranleigh’s Charlie Piper, Wellington College’s Seb Adeniran-Olule, Whitgift’s Stan South, John Fisher’s Kieran Treadwell, RGS High Wycombe’s Ben Wood, as well as former Epsom College man Jordan Burns and ex Stamford pupil, and a key player in the early stages of their three year unbeaten run Louis Grimoldby.

London Wasps A look mildy more experienced but not by much. They include former Shiplake College man Tom Howe on the wing as well as ex Hampton man and JWC winner Alex Lundberg at prop. His JWC winning colleague and former Eton College pupil Gus Jones starts at 7, with Bishop Stortford High School’s ex hooker starting next to Lundberg.

Newcastle Falcons have named a side to face the as yet unnamed Leicester Tigers that will certainly catch a few interested glances. They include two Tuilagis, Andy and twelve, and young Brian at number 8.

Else where the promising young prop Scott Wilson gets a start at tighhead, while Jack Ellwood, former Durham wing Tom Penny, and former Berkhamsted second row Ian Billington all take a seat on the bench.

London Irish and London Welsh are both yet to name their sides to play at Irish’s new training complex at Hazelwood, however Saracens Storm and Exeter Braves have both named fascinating teams for their clash at Allianz Park this evening.

Saracens have named the former Harrow School second row Maro Itoje as captain, an incredible feat for the England U20 international. Itoje led the U20s in Callum Braley’s absence this year and received widespread praise for his performances, however given that Saracens’ line up also includes the likes of Jacques Burger, Ernst Joubert, and Hayden Smith, this is perhaps the greatest demonstration of what is expected of this gifted young man, once a Fifteen Rugby One to Watch.

His JWC winning colleague and former Oaklands College player Nick Tompkins starts at inside centre, with fellow JWC winner Biyi Alo at tighthead. The bench is as yet unnamed but will feature some more young talent, including one of the stars of the last couple of school seasons, Millfield’s Tom Whiteley.

Whiteley will likely end up facing another former Millfield colleague, Freddie Gabbitas, who is on the bench for Exeter Braves alongside other young talents such as Stuart Townsend, Jack Stanley, and former Tonbridge School captain, and former Fifteen Rugby One to Watch, Matt Eliet.

In the starting XV the name of Charlie Wick at fullback will ring a few bells for many school rugby fans, he was a key cog in the Wellington College machine through to the 2012/13 season.

It ought to be a fantastic evening of rugby, and a brilliant chance for fans of schoolboy rugby to see how players have progressed since their school days. Indeed for many it should provide a great source of inspiration to see players that they played alongside last year, or in some cases still this year, at school now playing professional rugby in the A League.

Aviva A League Fixtures:

Bristol United v Sale Jets – Cribbs Causeway 19.00

Gloucester United v Northampton Wanderers – Kingsholm 19.30

Harlequins A v London Wasps A – Twickenham Stoop 19.30

Leicester Tigers A v Newcastle Falcons A – Welford Road 19.00

London Irish A v London Welsh A – Hazelwood 19.30

Saracens Storm v Exeter Braves – Allianz Park 19.30

Team News:

Bristol United

15 Auguy Slowik;  14 Ryan Edwards,  13 Gareth Maule,  12 Luke Eves,  11 Charlie Amesbury;  10 Mark Cooke,  9 Luke Baldwin;  1 Kyle Traynor,  2 Ross Johnston,  3 Gaston Cortes,  4 Glen Townson,  5 Ben Glynn (c),  6 Joe Joyce,  7 Olly Robinson,  8 Josh Ovens.

Replacements:  16 Rhys Lawrence,  17 Ellis Genge,  18 Sonny Haines (Hornets RFC),  19 Dale Lemon (UWE),  20 Jake Polledri (SGS Filton),  21 Tim Turner (Durham University),  22 Callum Sheedy,  23 Nick Carpenter.

Sale Jets: TBA

Gloucester United:

15 Aled Thomas;  14 Shane Monahan,  13 Tom Isaacs,  12 Billy Meakes,  11 Henry Purdy;  10 Billy Burns,  9 Callum Braley;  1 James Gibbons,  2 Aleki Lutui,  3 Shaun Knight;  4 Elliot Stooke,  5 Tom Hicks;  6 James Voss,  7 Mike Luxton,  8 Will Safe.

Replacements: 16 Luke Cole,  17 Will Goodrick-Clarke,  18 Alec Clarey,  19 Joe Batley,  20 Dan Thomas,  21 Harry Bassett,  22 Lloyd Evans,  23 Steph Reynolds.

Northampton Wanderers:

15 Tom Collins  14 Jamie Elliott 
13 Dom Waldouck (c)
 12 Tom Stephenson 
11 Howard Packman 
10 Will Hooley 
9 Alex Day; 
1 Ethan Waller 
2 Reece Marshall 
3 Gareth Denman 
4 Alex Woolford 
5 James Craig 
6 Cam Dolan 
7 Teimana Harrison 
8 Jon Fisher.

Replacements from:
James Fish 
Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi 
Adam Parkins 
Jordan Onojaife 
Lewis Ludlam 
Jacob Conner 
Phil Robinson 
Harry Mallinder 
Rory Hutchinson 
Sam Olver 
Josh Skelcey.

Harlequins A:

15 Sam Aspland-Robinson
 14 Charlie Walker
 13 Joe Marchant
 12 Harry Sloan  11 Ross Chisholm
 10 Ben Botica
 9 Sam Stuart;

1 Darryl Marfo
 2 Rob Buchanan
 3 Paul Doran Jones
 4 George Merrick
 5 Sam Twomey
 6 Joe Trayfoot
 7 Jack Clifford (c)  8
James Chisholm.

Replacements:
 16 Charlie Piper
 17 Seb Adeniran-Olule
 18 Will Collier
 19 Stan South
 20 Kieran Treadwell
 21 Jordan Burns
 22 Louis Grimoldby
 23 Ben Wood.

Wasps A:

15. Jonah Holmes 
14. Tom Howe 
13. Will Helu 
12. Ben Jacobs 
11. Josh Bassett 
10. Alex Lozowski 
9. Tom Bliss; 
1. Alex Lundberg 
2. Sam James 
3. Will Stuart 
4. Will Rowlands 
5. Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas 
6. Gus Jones 
7. Thomas Young 
8. Buster Lawrence.

Replacements: 16. George Edgson 
17. Tom West 
18. James Cleverly 
19. Jake O’Leary 
20. Mike Dewer 
21. James Small-Edwards 
22. George Eastwell 
23. Piers O’Conor.

Leicester Tigers A: TBA

Newcastle Falcons A:

1. Eric Fry,  2. Rob Hawkins (c),  3. Scott Wilson,  4. Glen Young,  5. Will Witty,  6. Dan Temm,  7. Andy Saull,  8. Brian Tuilagi,  9. Andy Davies,  10. Rory Clegg,  11. Danny Barnes,  12. Andy Tuilagi,  13. Jamie Helleur,  14. Sean Brown,  15. Lee Smith.

Replacements  16. David Nelson,  17. Jake Ellwood,  18. Mark Irving,  19. Ian Billington,  20. Conran Gleeson,  21. Dan Taylor,  22. Tom Catterick,  23. Tom Penny.

London Irish A: TBA

London Welsh A: TBA

Saracens Storm

15. Ben Ransom;  14. Mike Ellery,  13. Tim Streather,  12. Nick Tompkins,  11. Jack Wilson;  10 Nils Mordt,  9. Ben Spencer;  1. Billy Moss,  2. Phil Thiel,  3, Biyi Alo,  4. Maro Itoje (c),  5. Hayden Smith,  6. Matt Hankin,  7. Jacques Burger,  8. Ernst Joubert.

Replacements: TBA

Exeter Braves:

1 Brett Sturgess  2 Greg Bateman  3 Alex Brown  4 Ed Holmes  5 Jerry Sexton  6 Joel Conlon  7 Sam Simmonds  8 Sam Skinner (c);  9 Pat Phibbs  10 Laurence May  11 Adam Hughes  12 Tom Hendrickson  13 Max Bodilly  14 Alex Wilcockson  15 Charlie Wick.

Replacements: 16 Jack Innard  17 Kieron Davies  18 Jack Stanley  19 Matt Eliet  20 Harry Ledger  21 Stu Townsend  22 Tom Holdsworth  23 Fred Gabbitas.

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