A league’s Monday Night Lights a chance for youth again


It is Monday, and that means that it is Aviva A League time, and a great chance to see some of the stars of the of the last two years of school rugby perform on the professional stage.

As ever, the evening is going to be absolutely packed with recent school leavers, the odd current school star, and even a player not even in his final year of school, in London Wasps and Harrow School winger, Callum Sirker – a former Fifteen Rugby One to Watch.

Sirker is part of an undeniably youthful Wasps squad, joining him on the bench is Bedford School leaver, Ollie Lyons, while in the starting XV is former Shiplake College star Tom Howe, Hampton’s England U20 international, Alex Lundberg. Eton College old boy Gus Jones, and young Harry Sherphard, among others.

They face an equally youthful, yet formidable Bath United team. The Bath back three is Luke Arscott, Matt Banahan, and the 20 year old Anthony Watson – a top class trio for a Premiership game, let alone an A league match.

Marshaling the centres are Bryanston School leavers Max Clark and Rory Jennings, with their older (but not much) school compatriot, Ollie Devoto, starting at 10.

In the pack ex Bryanston skipper Charlie Ewels again captains the side at just 20 years of age, his schoolmate Tom Woolstencroft starts at 6, with Old Millfieldian Tom Ellis alongside Ewels in the second row, and his former school teammate Max Northcote-Green is at 7.

The bench is youthful too, with the likes of Sherborne’s will Homer, Rich Lane, and former St Joseph’s College star George Wacokecoke all waiting in the wings.

Northampton Saints include three of England U20s JWC stars in their starting XV, Tom Stephenson at centre, Howard Packman on the wing, and ex Stowe man Jordan Onojaife in the second row.

A fellow winner, Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi is one the bench, alongside last season’s St Joseph’s College captain, Lewis Ludlum, his Rugby School counterpart, Harry Mallinder, and the excellent Rory Hutchinson.

Bristol name an equally exciting side to face them. Callum Sheedy, Millfield’s pivot for the last two years, starts at ten, with young Ellis Genge starting at loosehead following his 1st XV debut a couple of weeks ago.

On the bench the likes of Jake Polledri, Nick Carpenter, and Sheedy’s old school half back partner, Tim Turner, all await their chance.

Gloucester United continue to keep faith in youth for their game v Leicester Tigers A, with their England U20 JWC winning half backs, Blly Burns and Callum Braley, a starting once again. In the pack 2013 winners Elliot Stooke and Lewis Ludlow both start.

On the bench things get very exciting, Warwick’s Harry Bassett cover Braley, while Marlborough College old boy Charlie Norman will cover the outside backs.

Leicester’s current injury crisis sees their side absolutely packed with youngsters, including the Thacker brothers, Harry and Charlie, Will Owen, and Charlie Beckett.

Sale Jets have turned to youth too for their game against Worcester Cavaliers. In the pack Cameron Neild, Liam Parfitt, and King’s Chester leaver George Nott are all included, a great show of faith.

On the bench the likes of St Ambrose College old boy Ciaran Parker and ex Lymm High School man James Mitchell are both included, among others.

Facing them for Worcester are Jon Hughes, the ex RGS Worcester man, Old Swinford Hospital leaver Huw Taylor, and ex King’s Worcester captain, Andrew Boyce.

His ex school colleague George De Cothi is on the bench alongside current Worcester 6th form College player Myles Edwards.

Exeter Braves include their usual mix of Bicton, Ivybridge, and Truro College graduates, including England U20 trio, Jack Stanley, Stuart Townsend, and Joel Conlon.

Facing them for London Irish will be ex RGS High Wycombe skipper Ross Neal, former Reed’s man Theo Vukasinovic in the second row, as well as fellow backs Johnny Williams, Tom Fowlie, and St Paul’s AASE leaver, Cameron Cowell.

On the bench the likes of Ollie Adams and Harry Lightfoot-Brown will add even more youth, among many others.

Harlequins A have a London derby against Saracens Storm, and have gone for a bold and young side for it. They are led by England U20 number 8 James Chisholm, who starts at 7, which could be an interesting move given that elder brother Ross is at full back!

James’ former school Brighton College have a member of their current 1st XV, Loewy Simmons starting on the wing, while Epsom College captain Archie White starts on the bench.

Starting alongside Chisholm at number 8 is Whitgift leaver and star of the school scene over the last two years, Henry Cheeseman. His old Whitgift colleague Stan South starts at lock, with his old sparring partner, Kieran Treadwell of John Fisher, on the bench.

Triple Schools Cup winner Josh Ibuanokpe starts at tighthead, with young Louis Grimoldby at ten. On the bench Cranleigh leaver Charlie Piper covers hooker, with Wellington College old boy Seb Adeniran-Olule waiting in the wings at prop.

Perhaps most exciting of all though is the return of George Lowe, at 13, following a year out. Current school players will be interested to see Karl Dickson on the bench, he has been a regular on the school scene this year as he has been testing out his refereeing skills with the London Society Referees on the school circuit.

Saracens have once again shown a great commitment to youth. Harrow old boy and England U20 star Maro Itoje again leads the side from the second row, with fellow JWC winner Biyi Alo packing down at tighthead.

In the backline Nick Tompkins returns to the A side after a couple of weeks of bench duty with the 1st XV, he is partnered in the centres by fellow youngster Max Wilkins.

On the bench it is again the backline replacements that will excite. George Perkins is joined by current Whitgift fullback Matt Gallagher, as well as Millfield leaver Tom Whiteley.

Which young guns are you excited about seeing an action, and who do you think will be the first to really break through into 1st XV action? Let us know via @FifteenRugbyXV or feel free to comment below!

Aviva A League Fixtures:

Northampton Wanderers v Bristol United

London Wasps A v Bath United

Gloucester United v Leicester Tigers A

Sale Jets v Worcester Cavaliers

Exeter Braves v London Irish A

Harlequins A v Saracens Storm

Aviva A League Team News:

Northampton Wanderers:

15 Tom Collins
14 Jamie Elliott 
13 Dom Waldouck 
12 Tom Stephenson 
11 Howard Packman
10 Will Hooley 
9 Joel Hodgson 
1 Ethan Waller 
2 Ross McMillan 
3 Tom Mercey 
4 Alex Woolford 
5 Jordan Onojaife 
6 Teimana Harrison 
7 Ben Nutley 
8 Phil Dowson (c).

Replacements: 16 Matti Williams
17 Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi 
18 Adam Parkins 
19 Cam Dolan 
20 Lewis Ludlum 
21 Alex Day 
22 Harry Mallinder 
23 Rory Hutchinson.

Bristol United:

15 Jack Wallace;  14 Jack Tovey,  13 Luke Eves,  12 Mark Cooke,  11 Charlie Amesbury;  10 Callum Sheedy,  9 Luke Baldwin;  1 Ellis Genge,  2 Chris Brooker,  3 Jack O’Connell;  4 Joe Joyce,  5 Glen Townson,  6 Nick Koster,  7 Olly Robinson,  8 Ben Skirving.

Replacements:  16 Rhys Lawrence,  17 Tom Harrison,  18 Sonny Haines,  19 Dale Lemon,  20 Jake Polledri,  21 Tim Turner,  22 Nick Carpenter,  23 Elias Caven.

London Wasps A:

15 Piers O’Conor  14 Tom Howe  13 Ben Jacobs  12 Ollie Evans  11 Josh Bassett  10 Harry Shephard  9 Tom Bliss  1 Alex Lundberg  2 Edd Shervington  3 Phil Swainston  4 Will Rowlands  5 Tom Baldwin  6 Gus Jones  7 Thomas Young  8 Buster Lawrence.

Replacements: 16 Tom Lindsay  17 Tom West  18 Will Stuart  19 Oskar Hirskyj-Douglas  20 Ollie Lyons  21 James Small-Edwards  22 George Eastwell  23 Callum Sirker.

Bath United:

15 Luke Arscott
 14 Matt Banahan
 13 Max Clark
 12 Rory Jennings
 11 Anthony Watson
 10 Ollie Devoto
 9 Micky Young
 1 Nathan Catt 
2 Tom Dunn
 3 Kane Palma-Newport 
4 Charlie Ewels (c) 
5 Tom Ellis
 6 Tom Woolstencroft
 7 Max Northcote-Green
 8 David Sisi.

Replacements: 16 Grant Shiells
 17 Juan Pablo Orlandi
 18 Marcus Garrett
 19 Matt Koep
 20 Alex Humphries
 21 Will Homer
 22 Rich Lane 
23 George Wacokecoke.

Gloucester United:

15 Steve McColl;  14 Tom Isaacs,  13 Seamus Kelly,  12 Billy Meakes,  11 Steph Reynolds,  10 Billy Burns,  9 Callum Braley;  1 James Gibbons,  2 Aleki Lutui,  3 Shaun Knight;  4 Elliott Stooke,  5 James Hudson;  6 James Voss,  7 Dan Thomas,  8 Lewis Ludlow.

Replacements: 16 Luke Cole,  17 Will Goodrick-Clarke,  18 Alec Clarey,  19 Tom Hicks,  20 Joe Batley,  21 Harry Bassett,  22 Aled Thomas,  23 Charlie Norman.

Leicester Tigers A:

15 John Hargreaves,  14 Paolo Odogwu,  13 Gift Sankoh,  12 Charlie Thacker,  11 Rhys Williams,  10 Oli Bryant,  9 Sam Harrison (c);  1 Riccardo Brugnara,  2 Harry Thacker,  3 Dan Hogan,  4 Charlie Beckett , 5 Lou Reed,  6 Will Owen,  7 Giorgi Tkhilaishvilli,  8 Ed Milne.

Replacements: 16 Jake Farnworth,  17 Owen Hills,  18 Rikki Stout,  19 Nick Murphy,  20 Stone Priestley-Nangle,  21 George Prince,  22 David Williams,  23 Javiah Pohe.

Sale Jets:

15 Mike Haley,  14 John O’Donnell,  13 Andy Forsyth,  12 Sam James,  11 Phil Mackenzie,  10 Nick Macleod,  9 Nathan Fowles,  1 Darren Fearn,  2 Shalva Mamukashvili,  3 James Flynn,  4 Matt Postlethwaite,  5 Ollie Parkinson,  6 George Nott,  7 Liam Parfitt,  8 Cameron Neild.

Replacements: 16 Dave Blackwell,  17 George Hymes,  18 Ciaran Parker,  19 Tom Bell,  20 Mike Quickenden,  21 James Mitchell,  22 Joe Ford,  23 Sam Bedlow.

Worcester Cavaliers:

15 Jon Hughes  14 James Stephenson  13 Alex Grove  12 Ravai Fatiaki  11 Josh Watkins  10 Tiff Eden  9 Jean-Baptiste Bruzulier (c)  1 Ofa Fainga’anuku  2 Jack Singleton  3 Joe Rees  4 Matt Perks (Dudley Kingswinford)  5 Shay Kerry  6 Mat Gilbert  7 Andrew Boyce  8 Huw Taylor.

Replacements:  16 Ben Sowrey  17 Jack Cosgrove  18 Alex Gordas  19 Myles Edwards (Worcester Sixth Form College AASE Programme)  20 Robbie Keith (Birmingham University)  21 George de Cothi  22 Josh Drauniniu  23 Cam Thompson (Fylde RFC).

Exeter Braves:

15 Chrysander Botha  14 Fetu’u Vainikolo  13 Max Bodilly  12 Adam Hughes  11 Jack Arnott  10 Ceri Sweeney  9 Pat Phibbs  1 Carl Rimmer  2 Elvis Taione  3 Alex Brown  4 Jerry Sexton  5 Ed Holmes  6 Sam Simmonds  7 James Scaysbrook  8 Sam Skinner (c).

Replacements: 16 Greg Bateman  17 Brett Sturgess  18 Jack Stanley  19 Joel Conlon  20 Sireli Naqelevuki  21 Stuart Townsend  22 Laurence May  23 Alex Wilcockson.

London Irish A:

1. Jamie Hagan  2. Mike Mayhew  3. Leo Halavatau  4. Theo Vukasinovic  5. Toby Salmon  6. Ollie Currie  7. Conor Gilsenan  8. Charlie Stevenson  9. Connor Murphy  10. Myles Dorrian (c)  11. Johnny Williams  12. Eoin Griffin  13. Tom Fowlie  14. Ross Neal  15. Cam Cowell.

Replacements: 16. Ollie Adams  17. Tom Smallbone  18. Rich Palframan  19. Charlie Stonehill  20. Luke Frost  21. Cam Smith  22. Will Crow  23. Harry Lightfoot Brown.

Harlequins A:

1 Darryl Marfo
 2 Rob Buchanan
 3 Josh Ibuanokpe
 4 Stan South
 5 Sam Twomey
 6 Joe Trayfoot
 7 James Chisholm (c) 
8 Henry Cheeseman

9 Jordan Burns
 10 Louis Grimoldby
 11 Loewy Simmons
 12 Ben Botica
 13 George Lowe
 14 Ollie Lindsay-Hague
 15 Ross Chisholm.

Replacements:16 Charlie Piper
 17 TBA 18 Seb Adeniran-Olule
19 Kieran Treadwell
 20 Archie White
 21 Karl Dickson
 22 Paul O’Lima
 23 Charlie Gossington.

Saracens Storm:

15. Will Edwards;  14. Mike Ellery,  13. Nick Tompkins,  12. Max Wilkins,  11. Jack Wilson;  10. Nils Mordt,  9. Ben Spencer;  1. Jack Culverhouse,  2. Scott Spurling,  3. Biyi Alo,  4. Hayden Smith,  5. Mouritz Botha,  6. Maro Itoje (c),  7. Matt Hankin,  8. Nick De Jager.

Replacements: 16. Phil Thiel,  17. Ollie Mines,  18. Ben Featherstone,  19. Kennet O’Neill,  20. Don Barrell,  21. Tom Whitely,  22. Matt Gallagher,  23. George Perkins.

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