The Aviva A League kicks off tonight, in the first of back to back Monday night’s of A League action followed by a break until October.
There is a bit of a shake up to the league this year with London Irish dropping out of the league altogether. Wasps A have moved from the South to the North following their move to Coventry, while Gloucester in turn move from the North to the South.
Tonight sees five games take place, with three in the North and two in the South after Exeter Braves v Bath United was postponed until December.
The action kicks off at Kingston Park with Newcastle Falcons A v Northampton Wanderers. As ever, youth is the order of the day in the A League and both sides feature plenty Zach Kibirigie returns on the wing for Newcastle, with Craig Willis at fly half, Scotland U20 lock Andrew Davidson gets a start, while Sedbergh leaver Max Davies is on the bench with Gosforth Academy’s Jack Johnson missing AASE action on Wednesday to play this evening.
Northampton feature George Furbank, Howard Packman, Tom Collins, Sam Olver, and the fit again Rory Hutchinson in the backline, while it is an ex Sedbergh and Stowe lock partnership in Alex Moon and Jordan Onojaife.
Lewis Ludlum, the former St Joseph’s College skipper and England U20 flanker is at openside next to the returning Callum Clark. Onojaife could play with his brother Devante if he comes off the bench, which also includes England U18 internationals Alex Rayment and James Grayson, as well as St Joseph’s College leaver Tom Emery.
It’s across to Heywood Road for the next game in the North, Sale Jets v Worcester Cavaliers. Sale include England U20 star George Nott in the second row, with Oundle leaver and England U18 colossus Tom Curry in the back row, twin brother Ben is on the bench. James Mitchell once of Lymm High School is at 9, with Charlie Ingall at full back and Curtis Langdon at hooker.
Worcester hand the captaincy to England U20 lock/back rower Huw Taylor, who is joined in the team by fellow U20 World Championship winners Biyi Alo (on his Worcester debut), and Andrew Kitchener, with another young star Zac Xiourouppa at openside. Three schoolboys are on the bench, Alex Hearle, Oliver Allsopp, and Josh Nott, with Bromsgrove leaver Justin Clegg joining them alongside to more U20 Champions, Sam Ripper-Smith and Jack Singleton.
Finally in the North is a huge A League repeat of the weekend’s senior fixture, Wasps A v Leicester Tigers A.
Wasps hand starts to ex Harrow full back Owain James and ex Shiplake wing Tom Howe, while the former Wellington College and England U18 centre Conor Dolan, is on the other wing. Last year’s Wasps U18 half back pairing of Connor Eastgate and Will Porter both start, while the pack sees England U20 World Champions Jack Willis and Will Stuart both start.
School leavers Tom Willis, Jacob Umaga, and Ehize Ehizode are all on the bench, alongside academy members such as Alex Lundberg and George Edgson.
Leicester meanwhile hand the captaincy to hooker Harry Thacker, with younger brother Charlie starting at outside centre. Will Evans, one of the fastest rising young stars around, starts at openside, with Will Owen at 6 and the latest from the Tuilagi production line, Fred, starting at number 8. Oli Bryant, the former England U18 fly half, starts at fly half, while on the bench other junior internationals such as Sam Lewis, Ben White, Tom Hardwick, and Harry Simmons ought all to get game time.
The Southern Division kicks off with Bristol United against Harlequins. Bristol have included as much youth as they dare, with former Wales U20 star Jordan Williams one of the key inclusions, he is at full back. Other youngsters in the backline are Elias Caven, and Nick Carpenter, while on the bench Hartpury duo Robbie Forbes and Maliq Holden are included, with Andy Uren covering scrum half.
Harlequins have picked a very young group. New signing Aaron Morris, who won the 2014 U20 World Championship with England, is at full back, alongside 2016 winner Sam Aspland-Robinson on the right wing. Ex Whitgift bruiser and another U20 world champions, Stan South is in the second row, with former Epsom College star Archie White at 6, and the 2014 U20 World Player of the Year, James Chisholm, at 7.
The bench includes Charlie Piper and Nathan Thomas, as well as Trinity School leaver and the 2015/16 England U18 captain, Gabriel Ibitoye.
The other game in the south sees Gloucester United host Saracens Storm. Gloucester include star academy prospect Mat Protheroe at full back, with fellow academy members Elliott Creed and Lloyd Evans in the backline. Up front there is room for Alex Craig, Freddie Clarke, and Dan Thomas, while on the bench school leaver Harry Randall is included along with fellow England U18 stars Henry Walker, Ciaran Knight, and Ollie Graham, and Wales U18’s Morgan Morris.
Saracens meanwhile have Sedbergh leaver Ali Crossdale at full back with England U20’s Dom Morris on the right wing and George Perkins on the left, with former U20 star Nick Tompkins at inside centre. At half back things get interesting, Henry Taylor, a former World U20 Championship winner with England, starts at scrum half, while former Millfield star and 7s guru Tom Whiteley is given a start at fly half, despite ordinarily being a scrum half.
In the pack school leavers and England U18 internationals Ben Earl, Nick Isiekwe, and Jack Nay all start, along with Ralph Adams-Hale at looshead, while on the bench Jared Saunders, Hayden Thompson-Stringer, and Billy Walker are the front row replacements, with England age-grade star Rotimi Segun covering the outside backs.
As ever then, the A League promises to be a perfect chance to watch the stars of tomorrow play today!
Aviva A League Round 1 Fixtures:
Newcastle Falcons A v Northampton Wanderers (17.00)
Sale Jets v Worcester Cavaliers (19.30)
Wasps A v Leicester Tigers A (19.30)
Bristol United v Harlequins A (19.15)
Gloucester United v Saracens Storm (19.30)
5th December (Exeter Braves v Bath United – rescheduled from this week)
24th April – Semi Finals
1st May – Final
Newcastle Falcons A v Northampton Wanderers
15 Alex Tait, 14 Ben Stevenson, 13 Belisario Agulla, 12 Fred Burdon, 11 Zach Kibirige, 10 Craig Willis, 9 Sam Egerton, 1 Sam Lockwood, 2 Ben Sowrey, 3 Paddy Ryan, 4 Andrew Davidson, 5 Nick Civetta, 6 Joshua Chisanga, 7 Dan Temm, 8 Ally Hogg.
Replacements: 16 Santiago Socino, 17Adam Brocklebank, 18 Andrew Foster, 19 Max Davies, 20 Jack Johnson, 21 Reiss Cullen, 22 Brett Connon
23 Dan Marshall.
15 George Furbank, 14 Tom Collins, 13 Juan Pablo Estelles, 12 Rory Hutchinson, 11 Howard Packman, 10 Sam Olver, 9 Tom Kessell, 1 Ethan Waller, 2 Charlie Clare, 3 Gareth Denman, 4 Alex Moon, 5 Jordan Onojaife, 6 Calum Clark, 7 Lewis Ludlam, 8 Sion Bennett.
Replacements: 16 Reece Marshall, 17 Matt Beesley, 18 Adam Parkins, 20 Alex Rayment, 21 Devante Onojaife, 22 Tom Emery, 23 James Grayson.
Sale Jets v Worcester Cavaliers
15 Charlie Ingall, 14 Nick Scott, 13 Ralph Dowds, 12 Sam Bedlow, 11 Jordan Dorrington, 10 Tom Morton, 9 James Mitchell, 1 James Flynn, 2 Curtis Langdon, 3 Brian Mujati, 4 Matt Postlethwaite, 5 George Nott, 6 Tom Curry, 7 Andy Hughes, 8 Matt Rogerson.
Replacements: 16 Jake Pope, 17 Johnny Matthews, 18 Diogo Ferreira, 19 Tom Sanders, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Connor Dever, 22 Tom Bedlow, 23 Jack Harrison.
15 Josh Adams, 14 Andy Short, 13 Max Stelling, 12 Will Butler, 11 Tom Biggs, 10 Tiff Eden. 9 Alex Glashan (Trialist), 1 Ryan Bower, 2 Matti Williams, 3 Biyi Alo, 4 Andrew Kitchener, 5 Christian Scotland-Williamson, 6 Huw Taylor (c), 7 Zac Xiourouppa, 8 Matt Cox.
Replacements: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Derrick Appiah, 18 Joe White, 19 Justin Clegg , 20 Sam Ripper-Smith, 21 Oliver Allsopp, 22 Josh Nott, 23 Alex Hearle.
Wasps A v Leicester Tigers A
15 Owain James, 14 Tom Howe, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Brendan Macken, 11 Conor Dolan, 10 Connor Eastgate, 9 Will Porter, 1 Tom Bristow, 2 Tom Cruse, 3 Will Stuart, 4 James Cannon, 5 Kearnan Myall, 6 Jack Willis, 7 Alex Rieder, 8 Marcus Garratt.
Replacements: 16 George Edgson, 17 Alex Lundberg, 18 Phil Swainston, 19 Ehize Ehizode, 20 Tom Willis, 21 Alex Smit, 22 Jacob Umaga, 23 Sam Harry.
15 George Worth, 14 Tom Brady, 13 Charlie Thacker, 12 Jack Roberts, 11 Mick McGrath, 10 Oli Bryant, 9 Jono Kitto, 1 Michele Rizzo, 2 Harry Thacker (c), 3 Fraser Balmain, 4 Harry Wells, 5 Joe Maksymiw, 6 Will Owen, 7 Will Evans, 8 Fred Tuilagi.
Replacements: 16 Harry Mahoney, 17 Logovi’i Mulipola, 18 Ben Betts, 19 Sam Lewis, 20 Sam Grahamslaw, 21 Ben White, 22 Tom Hardwick, 23 Harry Simmons.
Bristol United v Harlequins A
15 Jordan Williams, 14 Elias Caven, 13 Thretton Palamo, 12 Nick Carpenter, 11 Charlie Amesbury, 10 Billy Searle, 9 Martin Roberts, 1 Ryan Bevington, 2 Max Crumpton, 3 Jamal Ford-Robinson, 4 Giorgi Nemsadze, 5 Mark Sorenson, 6 Nick Koster, 7 Nick Fenton-Wells (c), 8 Rayn Smid.
Replacements: 16 Rob Hawkins, 17 Jack O’Connell, 18 James Hall, 19 Joe Joyce, 20 BJ Edwards, 21 Andy Uren, 22 Robbie Forbes, 23 Maliq Holden.
15 Aaron Morris, 14 Sam Aspland-Robinson, 13 Matt Hopper (c), 12 Winston Stanley, 11 Charlie Walker, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Karl Dickson, 1 Mark Lambert, 2 Joe Gray, 3 Adam Jones, 4 Stan South, 5 George Merrick, 6 Archie White, 7 James Chisholm, 8 George Naoupu.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Piper, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Matt Shields, 19 Nathan Thomas, 20 Charlie Mulchrone, 21 Tim Swiel, 22 James Lang, 23 Gabriel Ibitoye.
Gloucester United v Saracens Storm
15 Mat Protheroe, 14 David Halaifonua, 13 Tom Hudson, 12 Elliott Creed, 11 Tom Seabrook, 10 Lloyd Evans, 9 Callum Braley (c), 1 Paddy McAllister, 2 Greg Jackson, 3 Nicky Thomas, 4 Charlie Beckett, 5 Alex Craig, 6 Fredie Clarke, 7 Dan Thomas, 8 Gareth Evans.
Replacements: 16 Henry Walker, 17 Ciaran Knight, 18 Josh McNulty, 19 Morgan Morris, 20 Will Safe, 21 Harry Randall, 22 Ben Vellacott, 23 Ollie Graham.
15 Ali Crossdale, 14 Dom Morris, 13 Tim Streather (c), 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 George Perkins, 10 Tom Whiteley, 9 Henry Taylor, 1 Ralph Adams-Hale, 2 Scott Spurling, 3 Titi Lamositele, 4 Mark Flanagan, 5 Nick Isiekwe, 6 Jack Nay, 7 Ben Earl, 8 Samu Vunisa.
Replacements: 16 Jared Saunders, 17 Hayden Thompson-Stringer, 18 Billy Walker, 19 Byron Hodge, 20 Anthony Maka, 21 Neil De Kock, 22 Tom Griffiths, 23 Rotimi Segun.
2016 – Exeter Braves
2015 – Saracens Storm
2014 – Bath United
2013 – Harlequins A
2012 – Exeter Braves
2011 – Leicester Tigers A
2010 – Leicester Tigers A
2009 – Northampton Wanderers
2008 – Wasps A
2007 – Wasps A
2006 – Leicester Tigers A
2005 – Leicester Tigers A
2004 – Harlequins A