Gloucester and London Irish have named their sides for the U18 Academy Competition final at 4.30pm on Monday.
Allianz Park will play host to the U18 Academy Competition finals day, which sees the top three sides the Northern Division of the league stage face their counterparts from the Southern Division.
It all kicks off at 12.30pm with the 3rd place play off between Wasps and Leicester Tigers before we then move on to the 5th place play off between Exeter Chiefs from the South and Worcester Warriors, 3rd in the North, at 2.30pm.
The final takes place at 4.30pm, and sees the only two unbeaten teams in ether league face each other. Both Gloucester and London Irish finished with exactly the same number of points, 28, winning all of their games and collecting bonus points in all but two.
Gloucester’s side is a strong one, led by Joe Mullis, and with the outstanding Hartpury College scrum half Harry Randall also starting. England U18 prop Ciaran Knight starts, along with Scotland U18 Exile Alex Craig in the second row, while Bromsgrove’s outstanding hooker Henry Walker starts, with his schoolmate and front row colleague, Harrison Fowke, on the bench.
London Irish look strong too, with a number of England U18 players in the line up, including Wellington College’s Tom Parton, Matt Williams, and Rory Brand, as well as St Paul’s Catholic College’s Jarod Leat.
Speaking ahead of the game, London Irish U18 Head Coach Paul Hodgson said:
“This campaign has been a squad effort and the players have earned the right to play against Gloucester on Monday. Preparation this week has been good, we are well aware of the threat Gloucester pose and we are looking forward to the challenge of playing against them. The support of the London Irish fans will be greatly appreciated.”
Wasps have also named their side for their third place play off with Leicester Tigers, speaking ahead of the game Wasps’ Academy Manager Matt Davies said:
“This game is the culmination of the U18 season, which has been extremely positive to date. This group has been forming over a number of years, and all have worked extremely hard to get to this point, so getting our performance right in this last game will be a big focus.”
“Whilst there will be a series of U17 matches for the younger players before the end of the season, this will be the last opportunity for this group to play together, so we will be trying to get a performance and result to be proud of against Leicester.”
Worcester’s Mike Hewitt was equally encouraged, saying: “I’m really pleased for the group that they’ve made it to Finals Day, which is a first for the Club. It’s also the first time we’ll have faced Exeter at this level so we’re looking forward to the test and hoping we can come out with the victory to finish the campaign on a high.”
Meanwhile Exeter Chiefs’ Academy Manager Robin Cowling was incredibly positive and upbeat:
“Obviously we’re delighted to have made it through to the Finals again this year. Over the course of the season we’ve seen some very encouraging signs and seen some outstanding individual performances, all of which we will use to improve the side for next season. At times it has been it has been a very steep learning curve for the squad, but that was exactly what was required with the team improving week on week, which as coaches is all we can ask.”
“The team have played some very pleasing and smart rugby. Lapses in concentration have cost the squad at times, but that is the beauty of this competition and from the coaches perspective the players have all learned and been able to turn the experience into a very positive season. With such a young squad the signs for next season are very promising indeed and we will be aiming to finish the U18 Academy season in style with another improved performance. If that happens then it will have been a huge success for all involved.”
U18 Academy Competition Finals Day Schedule:
12.30pm: Wasps v Leicester Tigers – 3rd Place Play-off
2.30pm: Exeter Chiefs v Worcester Warriors – 5th Place Play-off
4.30pm: London Irish v Gloucester – Final
15 Dan Openshaw, 14 Rhys Tudor, 13 Mason Tonks, 12 Tom Seabrook, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Carwyn Penny, 9 Harry Randall, 1 Alex Seville, 2 Henry Walker, 3 Ciaran Knight, 4 Callum Allen, 5 Alex Craig, 6 Ceri Silvester, 7 Joe Mullis (c), 8 Morgan Morris.
Replacements: 16 Mason Emery, 17 Will Haly, 18 Harrison Fowke, 19 Ed Bennion, 20 Aaron Hinkley, 21 Seb Mummery, 22 Charlie Chapman, 23 Robbie Forbes.
15 Will Attfield; 14 Joe Cokanasiga; 13 Matt Williams; 12 Lewis Sampson; 11 Ollie Hassell-Collins; 10 Tom Parton; 9 Rory Brand; 1 Jarod Leat; 2 Matt Kouris (Captain); 3 Austin Hay; 4 Harry Butler; 5 Josh Basham; 6 Jack Cooke; 7 Jack Ingall; 8 Isaac Curtis-Harris.
Replacements: 16 Freddie Boyce; 17 Callum Torpey; 18 Daniel Winning; 19 Angus Southon; 20 Harry Norton 21 Dan Grant-Adamson; 22 Sam Evans; 23 Roman Malin-Hiscock; 24 Alex Gloster; 25 Dylan Moss.
15 Charlton Kerr, 14 Harry Hanley, 13 Caleb Shepherd, 12 Sam Spink, 11 Ollie Brown, 10 Connor Eastgate (c), 9 Will Porter, 1 George Probyn, 2 Jamie Cox, 3 George Strainge, 4 Jack Holford, 5 Ehize Ehizode, 6 James Seabrook, 7 Suen Coker, 8 Jacob Turner.
Replacements: 16 Tom Guthrie, 17 Joe Salkeld, 18 Osman Dimen, 19 Joe Tunney, 20 Ted Pullin, 21 Alex Crocker, 22 Finn Pietersen, 23 Callum Sirker.
Leicester Tigers – TBA
15 Max Craven (Worcester Sixth Form College/AASE) 14 Alex Hearle (Shrewsbury College) 13 Robbie Smith (Hartpury College) 12 Will Butler (Hereford Cathedral School) 11 Stan Mayne (Worcester Sixth Form College/AASE) 10 Ollie Allsopp (Malvern College) 9 Jamie Shillcock (Academy) 1 James Page (Academy) 2 Bec Cutting (Bromsgrove School) 3 Nick Rigby (Warwick School) 4 Ted Hill (Worcester Sixth Form College/AASE) 5 James Scott (Malvern College) 6 Ben Fowles (Solihull School) 7 Tom Ford (C) (Bromsgrove School) 8 Tom Dodd (Warwick School).
Replacements: 16 George Newman (Worcester Sixth Form College/AASE) 17 Joe Morris (King’s Aston) 18 Freddie Hemmingway (Riverside School Malvern) 19 Lawrence Weston (Bromsgrove School) 20 Charlie Morgan (Solihull School) 21 Jacob Ham (King’s Worcester) 22 Sam Hollingsworth (Worcester Sixth Form College/AASE) 23 Dion King (King’s Worcester).
1 Adam Wright 2 Matt Symons 3 Marcus Street 4 Hugo Culverhouse 5 Dan Swain 6 Sam Daly 7 Will Gibson 8 Charlie Wright 9 Joe Snow 10 Harvey Skinner 11 AJ Cant 12 Dec Matthews 13 Aaron Chapman 14 Matt Morrish 15 Toby Williams.
Replacements: 16 Nat Bayet 17 James Kenny 18 Liam Hilliar 19 Dan Head 20 Charlie Fetney 21 Aaron Bagwell 22 Sam Brown 23 Jessie Lowe.