The Aviva A League kicked off last night, with each side opting to pack their 23-man matchday squads with young talent.
There were dozens of players fresh out of school, as well as a couple who were still at school.
Quins A v Wasps A
Fifteen Rugby visited the Twickenham Stoop for Harlequins A v London Wasps A, where one such current school player had made the Harlequins starting XV, Wellington Collegeâ€™s Sam Aspland-Robinson, who started a full back.
Aspland-Robsinson had a solid game as Quins strolled to a 35-14 victory, however it was a 2013 schoolboy leaver who really grabbed the headlines. Former Brighton College and England U18 captain, and U20 JWC winner, James Chisholm scored a hat-trick for Harlequins as he benefited from the huge pressure that his sideâ€™s scrum put on the young Wasps pack.
Indeed it looked like being a Chisholm shut-out on the scoreboard at one point, with on James and his brother Ross, playing on the wing, crossing the whitewash until Wasps scored a couple and Charlie Walker went over for Quinsâ€™ third.
Peter Symondsâ€™ College leaver Joe Marchant started at outside centre for Quins and had a solid game alongside back to back JWC winner Harry Sloan, before being replaced by RGS High Wycombe leaver Ben Wood with around ten minutes to go.
The former Wasps U18 man was up against many familiar faces including the former Shiplake College winger Tom Howe, who created possibly the most exciting Wasps moment of the match with a searing break through the middle of the pitch.
The real influx of school leavers came when Harlequins emptied their bench though, with Charlie Piper, Seb Adeniran-Olule, Stan South, and Kieran Treadwell, who all left Cranleigh, Wellington College, Whitgift, and John Fisher respectively this summer, all coming on, later to be joined by Wood.
It was particularly special from a rugby point of view to see South and Treadwell pack down together, of course they have done so many times before, at school level they played for bitter rivals in Whitgift and John Fisher but they are now teammates and fellow professionals at Harlequins. It was certainly a great sight to see.
Irish A v Welsh A
Just down the road at the new Hazelwood training complex, London Irish A beat London Welsh A 34-8 with a side that also included plenty of young stars.
Woodâ€™s RGS High Wycombe captain last year, Ross Neal, started at inside centre alongside Johnnny Williams, with 7s starlet Cameron Cowell at full back, and Reedâ€™s leaver Theo Vukanisovic started in the second row.
The likes of James McRae and Abingdon Schoolâ€™s 2013/14 fly half Theo Brophy-Clews were on the bench, while LondoN Welsh started with a London Irish product and John Fisher leaver, Declan Williams, on the wing.
Itoje leads Saracens Storm
Swinging around the M25 up towards Mill Hill, Saracens Storm hosted the Exeter Braves at Allianz Park and they put on quite a show, winning 50-24 with a prace from the former Oaklands College centre and a real man to watch, Nick Tompkins.
Both sides had plenty of recognisable youth, Tom Whiteley, the Millfield leaver and star of the 7s circuit, was on the bench for Saracens while Exeter featured the likes of Charlie Wick fro Wellington College and Matt Eliet from Tonbridge.
However the real story from this game was that of Maro Itoje, the former Harrow second row who won the JWC with England U20 this summer. Itoje has long been seen as a star of the future and was a Fifteen Rugby One to Watch, but he took a huge step yesterday by skippering this Saracens side. It was far from inexperienced and included the likes of Burger, Joubert, Mordt, and Hayden Smith. It seems that Maroâ€™s time is coming fast.
Falcons A do what the seniors cannot
Darting up the road from Saracens, Leicester Tigers hosted Newcastle Falcons at Welford Road and the Newcastle A side did what their senior counterparts could not, beating Tigers 32-8 with a young side that included the likes of Dan Temm, Brian Tuilagi and Tom Penny.
Leicester too opted for youth in the likes of Charlie Thacker, George Tressider, and Will Owen, though they were led by the more experienced (in relative terms) Owen Williams at fly half.
Stunner at Kingsholm
Arguably the game of the evening must have been Gloucester United v Northampton Wanderers, which was the Wanderers just take the win with a 30-29 victory.
Northampton included last yearâ€™s St Josephâ€™s College captain Lewis Ludlum in their 23 alongside 2013/14 Rugby School captain Harry Mallinder as well as plenty who left school the year before including Oundleâ€™s Sam Olver, Stoweâ€™s Jordan Onojaife, Trentâ€™s James Fish, and Moulton College star Howard Packman, as well as seasoned senior squad man Tom Stephenson, who is still only 20.
Glocuester too opted for youth, starting England U20 half backs Callum barley and Billy Burns with Elliot Stooke and Will Safe, who by all accounts had a stormer, in the pack.
On the bench Dean Close leaver Lloyd Evans took his place alongside current Warwick School star Harry Basset.
Bristol United v Sale Jets
Bristol proved that just because they are in the championship that does not mean that they do not have strength in depth as they beat Sale Jets 36-19.
Bristol picked a reasonably well established starting fifteen but included a very young bench with the likes of Ellis Genge and Jake Polledri of Filton College and the Millfield pair of 2013/14 captain and fly half Callum Sheedy and his 2012/13 school half back partner Ti Turner.
Similarly Sale had a fairly experienced side, though Kingâ€™s Chester leaver George Nott started in the second row and Rishworthâ€™s Liam Parfitt started at 7, showing just how highly rated they are.
St Ambrose Collegeâ€™s Ciaran parker was on the bench along with Lymm High Schoolâ€™s 2013 leaver James Mitchell and Manchester Gramamrâ€™s Cameron Neild among others.
Overall it was a great evening of rugby, but just as important â€“ it was a great opportunity to watch those who have starred on the schoolboy rugby scene of the last couple of years make a real foray into the professional world of rugby.
Hopefully the trend will continue!
Aviva A League Results:
Bristol United 36-19 Sale Jets
Gloucester United 29-30 Northampton Wanderers
Harlequins A 35-14 London Wasps A
Leicester Tigers A 8-32 Newcastle Falcons A
London Irish A 34-8 London Welsh A
Saracens Storm 50-24 Exeter Braves
Next Fixtures (15/09/14):
Bath United v Harlequins A
Exeter Braves v London Welsh A
London Wasps A v London Irish A
Newcastle Falcons A v Bristol United
Northampton Wanderers v Leicester Tigers A
Worcester Cavaliers v Gloucester United
Last nightâ€™s teams:
15 Auguy Slowik;Â 14 Ryan Edwards,Â 13 Gareth Maule,Â 12 Luke Eves,Â 11 Charlie Amesbury;Â 10 Mark Cooke,Â 9 Luke Baldwin;Â 1 Kyle Traynor,Â 2 Ross Johnston,Â 3 Gaston Cortes,Â 4 Glen Townson,Â 5 Ben Glynn (c),Â 6 Joe Joyce,Â 7 Olly Robinson,Â 8 Josh Ovens.
Replacements:Â 16 Rhys Lawrence,Â 17 Ellis Genge,Â 18 Sonny Haines (Hornets RFC),Â 19 Dale Lemon (UWE),Â 20 Jake Polledri (SGS Filton),Â 21 Tim Turner (Durham University),Â 22 Callum Sheedy,Â 23 Nick Carpenter.
15 Mike Haley;Â 14 Charlie Ingall,Â 13 Sam James,Â 12 Andy Forsyth,Â 11 John O’Donnell;Â 10 Nick Macleod,Â 9 Nathan Fowles;Â 1 Darren Fearns,Â 2 Shalva Mamukashvili,Â 3 James Flynn,Â 4 Andre Ostrikov,Â 5 George Nott,Â 6 Andy Hughes (c),Â 7 Liam Parfitt,Â 8 Viliami Fihaki.
Replacements: 16 Ciaran Parker,Â 17 Cameron Neild,Â 18 Tom Sanders,Â 19 Tom Bell,Â 20 James Mitchell,Â 21 Tom Morton,Â 22 Sam Bedlow.
15 Aled Thomas;Â 14 Shane Monahan,Â 13 Tom Isaacs,Â 12 Billy Meakes,Â 11 Henry Purdy;Â 10 Billy Burns,Â 9 Callum Braley;Â 1 James Gibbons,Â 2 Aleki Lutui,Â 3 Shaun Knight;Â 4 Elliot Stooke,Â 5 Tom Hicks;Â 6 James Voss,Â 7 Mike Luxton,Â 8 Will Safe.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cole,Â 17 Will Goodrick-Clarke,Â 18 Alec Clarey,Â 19 Joe Batley,Â 20 Dan Thomas,Â 21 Harry Bassett,Â 22 Lloyd Evans,Â 23 Steph Reynolds.
15 Tom CollinsÂ 14 Jamie Elliott â€¨13 Dom Waldouck (c)â€¨ 12 Tom Stephenson â€¨11 Howard Packman â€¨10 Will Hooley â€¨9 Alex Day; â€¨1 Ethan Waller â€¨2 Reece Marshall â€¨3 Gareth Denman â€¨4 Alex Woolford â€¨5 James Craig â€¨6 Cam Dolan â€¨7 Teimana Harrison â€¨8 Jon Fisher.
Replacements from: James Fish â€¨Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi â€¨Adam Parkins â€¨Jordan Onojaife â€¨Lewis Ludlam â€¨Jacob Conner â€¨Phil Robinson â€¨Harry Mallinder â€¨Rory Hutchinson â€¨Sam Olver â€¨Josh Skelcey.
15 Sam Aspland-Robinsonâ€¨ 14 Charlie Walkerâ€¨ 13 Joe Marchantâ€¨ 12 Harry SloanÂ 11 Ross Chisholmâ€¨ 10 Ben Boticaâ€¨ 9 Sam Stuart;â€¨â€¨1 Darryl Marfoâ€¨ 2 Rob Buchananâ€¨ 3 Paul Doran Jonesâ€¨ 4 George Merrickâ€¨ 5 Sam Twomeyâ€¨ 6 Joe Trayfootâ€¨ 7 Jack Clifford (c)Â 8â€¨James Chisholm.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Piperâ€¨ 17 Seb Adeniran-Oluleâ€¨ 18 Will Collierâ€¨ 19 Stan Southâ€¨ 20 Kieran Treadwellâ€¨ 21 Jordan Burnsâ€¨ 22 Louis Grimoldbyâ€¨ 23 Ben Wood.
15. Jonah Holmes â€¨14. Tom Howe â€¨13. Will Helu â€¨12. Ben Jacobs â€¨11. Josh Bassett â€¨10. Alex Lozowski â€¨9. Tom Bliss; â€¨1. Alex Lundberg â€¨2. Sam James â€¨3. Will Stuart â€¨4. Will Rowlands â€¨5. Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas â€¨6. Gus Jones â€¨7. Thomas Young â€¨8. Buster Lawrence.
Replacements: 16. George Edgson â€¨17. Tom West â€¨18. James Cleverly â€¨19. Jake Oâ€™Leary â€¨20. Mike Dewer â€¨21. James Small-Edwards â€¨22. George Eastwell â€¨23. Piers Oâ€™Conor.
Leicester Tigers A:
15 Oli BryantÂ 14 Rhys WilliamsÂ 13 Charlie ThackerÂ 12 Javiah PoheÂ 11 Paolo OdogwuÂ 10 Owen Williams (c)Â 9 George Tressider;Â 1 Riccardo BrugnaraÂ 2 Neil BriggsÂ 3 Tiziano PasqualiÂ 4 Joe MaksymiwÂ 5 Matthew HubbartÂ 6 Charlie BeckettÂ 7 Will OwenÂ 8 Ed Milne.
Replacements: 16 Harry ThackerÂ 17 Aniseko SioÂ 18 Dan HoganÂ 19 Luke JosephÂ 20 Oliver PovoasÂ 21 George PrinceÂ 22 Reuben NorvilleÂ 23 Gift Sankoh.
Newcastle Falcons A:
1. Eric Fry,Â 2. Rob Hawkins (c),Â 3. Scott Wilson,Â 4. Glen Young,Â 5. Will Witty,Â 6. Dan Temm,Â 7. Andy Saull,Â 8. Brian Tuilagi,Â 9. Andy Davies,Â 10. Rory Clegg,Â 11. Danny Barnes,Â 12. Andy Tuilagi,Â 13. Jamie Helleur,Â 14. Sean Brown,Â 15. Lee Smith.
Replacements: Â 16. David Nelson, Â 17. Jake Ellwood, Â 18. Mark Irving, Â 19. Ian Billington, Â 20. Conran Gleeson, Â 21. Dan Taylor, Â 22. Tom Catterick, Â 23. Tom Penny.
London Irish A:
15 Cameron CowellÂ 14 James CopseyÂ 13 Johnny WilliamsÂ 12 Ross NealÂ 11 Matt NobleÂ 10 Myles DorrianÂ 9 Darren Alinson;Â 1 Jamie HaganÂ 2 Mike MayhewÂ 3 Geoff CrossÂ 4 Theo VukasinovicÂ 5 Toby SalmonÂ 6 Ollie CurryÂ 7 Jimmy StevensÂ 8 Armond Roux.
Replacements: Â 16 Ignas DarkintisÂ 17 Ollie AdamsÂ 18 Richard PalframanÂ 19 Charlie StonehillÂ 20 James McRaeÂ 21 Connor MurphyÂ 22 Theo Brophy-ClewsÂ 23 Callum Watson.
London Welsh A:
15 Chris ElderÂ 14 Conor CorriganÂ 13 George BoultonÂ 12 James LewisÂ 11 Declan WilliamsÂ 10 Will RobinsonÂ 9 Paul Rowley;Â 1 Shane CahillÂ 2 Nathan MorrisÂ 3 Eddie AholeleiÂ 4 Josh McNallyÂ 5 Samir KharbouchÂ 6 Jesse ListonÂ 7 Alex BrownÂ 8 Ben Pienaar.
Replacements: 16 Jimmie LitchfieldÂ 17 Matthew DobsonÂ 18 Ben CooperÂ 19 Jamie HarrisÂ 20 Anders NillsonÂ 21 Ed HoadleyÂ 22 Tristan RobertsÂ 23 Rhys Crane.
15. Ben Ransom;Â 14. Mike Ellery,Â 13. Tim Streather,Â 12. Nick Tompkins,Â 11. Jack Wilson;Â 10 Nils Mordt,Â 9. Ben Spencer;Â 1. Billy Moss,Â 2. Phil Thiel,Â 3, Biyi Alo,Â 4. Maro Itoje (c),Â 5. Hayden Smith,Â 6. Matt Hankin,Â 7. Jacques Burger,Â 8. Ernst Joubert.
Replacements: 16. Antonio Harris,Â 17. Ollie Walker,Â 18. Jack Culverhouse,Â 19. Kennett Oâ€™Neill,Â 20. Hayden Thompson-Stringer,Â 21. Tom Whiteley,Â 22. Max Wilkins,Â 23. George Perkins.
1 Brett SturgessÂ 2 Greg BatemanÂ 3 Alex BrownÂ 4 Ed HolmesÂ 5 Jerry SextonÂ 6 Joel ConlonÂ 7 Sam SimmondsÂ 8 Sam Skinner (c);Â 9 Pat PhibbsÂ 10 Laurence MayÂ 11 Adam HughesÂ 12 Tom HendricksonÂ 13 Max BodillyÂ 14 Alex WilcocksonÂ 15 Charlie Wick.
Replacements: 16 Jack InnardÂ 17 Kieron DaviesÂ 18 Jack StanleyÂ 19 Matt ElietÂ 20 Harry LedgerÂ 21 Stu TownsendÂ 22 Tom HoldsworthÂ 23 Fred Gabbitas.