The 2017 AASE League kicks off on Wednesday with five exciting games.
As last year, the league is split into Northern and Southern conferences, with seven teams in each conference. Before a top half/bottom half split in each after each side has played everyone in their conference.
Unfortunately Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth I College have pulled out of the Northern Conference, but they have been replaced by Brooksby Melton College, who are based in Melton Mowbray and are still part of the Leicester Tigers catchment.
Brooksby Melton begin their campaign away to last year’s newcomers, Bishop Burton College, the Yorkshire Carnegie affiliates. Last year was a tough one for Bishop Burton, but they will be hoping that they can follow a similar path to Beechen Cliff, who found the going tough in their first year but reached the top split.
The other fixture in the Northern Conference on Wednesday sees Oaklands College host Worcester 6th form College. Both sides qualified for the top half split in the North last year, but missed out on a final spot to Gosforth Academy. They will both hope to make a strong start to this year’s campaign and try to build on last year’s promise.
Moulton College have a first round bye, while last year’s losing finalists, Gosforth Academy, have had their opening game away at Myerscough College postponed until the 1st November.
Last year, for the first time in AASE history, the title was not won by Hartpury College. Instead Exeter College capitalised on Beechen Cliff’s victory over the perennial champions to reach the final and then beat Gosforth Academy 53-19 at Allianz Park.
Their title defence begins at home against SGS Filton College on Wednesday, another side who have enjoyed some promising past campaigns and are always a tough side to beat.
Hartpury College meanwhile also kick off at home, they host Henley College and will doubtless be out to prove a point having missed out on the title last year. With their senior side now in the Championship, they will want to have success at U18 level too, no doubt.
The final game in the South on Wednesday sees Truro College make the trip to St Paul’s Catholic College, who have been a big part of that outstanding development of young talent at London Irish in recent years. These two enjoyed similar seasons last year, and how they compare tomorrow should be very interesting.
Beechen Cliff, the side that toppled Hartpury last year, begin their season with a bye.
AASE Round 1 Fixtures (predictions in bold)
Bishop Burton College v Brooksby Melton College
Oaklands College v Worcester 6th form College
Moulton College – Bye
Myerscough College v Gosforth Academy (Postponed to 1st November)
Exeter College v SGS Filton College
Hartpury College v Henley College
St Paul’s Catholic College v Truro College
Beechen Cliff – Bye
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