U18 Academy League: Round 1 Preview

With the conclusion of the regular schools rugby season, the U18 Academy League gets underway this week.


As ever, there are fourteen sides in the competition, the twelve Gallagher Premiership clubs plus London Irish and Yorkshire Carnegie from the Greene King IPA Championship.


The fourteen academies are split into two conferences of seven, North and South, and each side plays the other six sides in their conference once, giving us seven rounds of games – each side has one bye week.


Following the seven regular rounds, Allianz Park will once again host the U18 Academy League Finals Day on Sunday 17th February. The top side from each conference will meet in the U18 Academy League Final, second in each conference will play for 3rd place, and third in each will play for 5th.


There are two small tweaks to the rules this year, rolling substitutes are now permitted, while the provision allowing for three U19s per matchday squad has now been removed.


Two rounds take place before Christmas, before Round 3 on the 5th/6th January and a round every week from there bar the final week of January.


Round 1


Northern Conference


The northern conference looks strong this year, containing last year’s champions, Leicester Tigers, and the two sides that have dominated the England age-groups sides of the last 12 months, Sale Sharks and Newcastle Falcons.


Newcastle and Leicester actually meet this week, at 2pm on Saturday at Kingston Park. Both sides contain some brilliant players, not least the Newcastle backline with the likes of Obonna, Haydon-Wood, and Cooke. Leicester Tigers meanwhile are skippered by openside Sam Eveleigh and have some huge talents such as George Martin and James Whitcombe in the pack. Norwich’s Freddie Steward meanwhile is a man to watch in the backline, he has been key to his school’s stunning season.


Sale Sharks meanwhile will round the whole weekend off at 2pm on Sunday when they host Wasps at Manchester Metropolitan University. Raffi Quirke skippers Sale from 9, leading a side packed with talent not least in the form of Tom Curtis and Tom Roebuck in the backline among others. Wasps too are bubbling with talent and boast a really strong back row, with skipper Tunney at 6, Eckersley at 7, and Jakobsen at 8.


The third game in the North sees Yorkshire Carneige host Worcester Warriors at Headlingley on Saturday morning, 10.30. Yorkshire are skippered by England U18 international Archie Smeaton at openside and boast real talent across the side including the exciting Dan Lancaster at fly half, who is also vice captain, and Woodhouse Grove star Joe Carpenter at full back. Worcester meanwhile are a bit hampered by injury but still boast a seriously exciting side, drawing heavily on Bromsgrove, Warwick, and new AASE side Stourport High School. Solihull’s Lewis Holsey at loosehead among the others who could impress up against as all AASE Yorkshire front row.


Northampton Saints sit this round out before kicking off their campaign at home to Leicester Tigers next weekend.


Southern Conference


The Southern Conference kicks the whole 2018 U18 Academy League off when Gloucester host Saracens at Hartpury College on Friday evening, 7pm. Gloucester were devastatingly good last year and have bundles of promise again this year, Joe Howard captains them from blindside flanker and is among a number of players to watch, not least George Barton at fly half and Jack Clement at number 8. Saracens meanwhile are not lacking for talent themselves at fly half where George Barton’s namesake, Josh, of Berkhamsted will run the show for Saracens. Dulwich College’s Max Bliss is an exciting runner, while Felsted’s Oliver Stonham captains the side from number 8.


On Saturday Harlequins host Bristol bears at Surrey Sports Park, kicking off at 1.30pm. Harlequins’ side is packed with exciting talent, among them Hampton full back Louis Lynagh. Wellington College’s Tobias Scalabrini is in the side after his stunning try in the Champions Trophy final against Epsom College, so too his teammate Fin Baxter, who this week has become the subject of a viral physics equation from that game. Bristol too have selected an exciting team and Tom Jones captains them from outside centre. He forms an exciting centre partnership with Harry Ascherl, while the half back pairing of England U18 scrum half Blake Boyland and Wales U18 fly half Ioan Lloyd ought to light up the field of play magnificently.


Finally to Hazelwood on Saturday at 1pm where London Irish will host Exeter Chiefs. Neither club has named their side as yet, but with both having superb reputations at academy level over the last few years we can be certain that there will be some stellar performances from within their lineups from players that we can expect so see in a first XV shirt sooner rather than later.


Bath a the first side with a bye week in the Southern Conference, their campaign begins next weekend at home to Exeter Chiefs.


A reminder that we welcome any photos, videos, and reports from your school’s games – the more the merrier! You can send them in to us via any of the methods below:

Twitter: @FifteenRugbyXV

Facebook: www.facebook.com/FifteenRugby

Instagram: @fifteenrugbyxv

Email: writers@fifteenrugby.com


U18 Academy League Round 1 Fixtures:


Northern Conference


Newcastle Falcons v Leicester Tigers – Saturday, 2pm, Kingston Park

Sale Sharks v Wasps – Sunday, 2pm, Manchester Met University

Yorkshire Carnegie v Worcester Warriors – Saturday, 10.30am, Headlingley

Bye Week – Northampton Saints


Southern Conference


Gloucester v Saracens – Friday, 7pm, Hartpury College

Harlequins v Bristol Bears – Saturday, 1.30pm, Surrey Sports Park

London Irish v Exeter Chiefs – Saturday, 1pm, Hazelwood

Bye Week – Bath


Team News:


Newcastle Falcons:

15 Alex Brundage, 14 Will Panday, 13 Chidera Obonna, 12 Will Haydon-Wood, 11 Seamus Hutton, 10 Michael Cooke, 9 Max Pepper, 1 Will Elliott, 2 Toby Peach, 3 Oscar Caudle, 4 Ben Robson, 5 Henry Schmid, 6 Freddie Lockwood, 7 Will Pettifer, 8 Mason Lewthwaite.

Replacements: 16 Adam Hay, 17 Walid Kurdi, 18 Drew Thompson, 19 Owen Vassallo, 20 Paddy Cooper, 21 Callum Pascoe, 22 Will Roberts, 23 George Barber.


Leicester Tigers:

15 Freddie Steward, 14 Leo Gilliland, 13 Ronnie Du Rant, 12 Matt Potts, 11 Joe Browning, 10 Harry Glynn, 9 Jack Van Poortvliet, 1 Alex Maxwell, 2 Shaun Allsopp, 3 James Whitcombe, 4 Tom Manz, 5 George Martin, 6 Kit Smith, 7 Samuel Eveleigh (c), 8 Oliver Ashworth.

Replacements: 16 Archie Vanes, 17 Bob Singer, 18 Jack Rowntree, 19 Will Backhouse, 20 Emeka Ilione, 21 Sam Edwards, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Ben Dickinson.


Sale Sharks:
15 Cal Grieve, 14 Evan Powell, 13 Dan Kelly, 12 Tom Curtis, 11 Tom Roebuck, 10 Will Davies, 9 Raffi Quirke (c), 1 Harry Harding, 2 Ben Patchett, 3 James Harper, 4 Sam Higginson, 5 Ewan Murphy, 6 Ollie Leatherbarrow, 7 Joe Johnson, 8 Ethan Caine.

Replacements: Wilkinson, Clarke, Bishop, Fishwick, Hadland, Ainscough Gourlay, O Melville, Thomas, C Melville.



15 Baker, 14 Baldwin, 13 Ma’asi, 12 Dunn, 11 Williams, 10 Mitchell, 9 Mortimer, 1 Coombs, 2 Nearchou, 3 Sabin, 4 Ademuwagun, 5 Mawdsley, 6 Tunney (c), 7 Eckersley, 8 Jakobsen.

Replacements: 16 Watkins, 17 Beckett, 18 Munro, 19 Kenyon, 20 Pichardie, 21 Monye, 22 Hughes, 23 Edeh.


Yorkshire Carnegie:

15 Joe Carpenter (Woodhouse Grove), 14 Ollie Williams (Ripon GS), 13 Luke Fairbank (Woodhouse Grove), 12 Jack Metcalfe (Bishop Burton College), 11 Jack Cherry (QEGS Wakefield), 10 Dan Lancaster (Bishop Burton College, vc), 9 Theo Smerdon (Ampleforth College), 1 Conner Hancock (Bishop Burton College), 2 Madison Hunting (Myerscough College), 3 Billy Addy (Bishop Burton College), 4 Angus Haswell (Hymers College), 5 Steele Barker (Durham), 6 Ben Sugars (Grammar School at Leeds), 7 Archie Smeaton (Hymers College, c), 8 Will Smith Queen Elizabeth 6th form College).

Replacements: 16 Lawrence Mason (Sedbergh), 17 Sam Ives (Crossley Heath), 18 Will Prichard (St John Fisher), 19 Ted Wainwright (Ripon GS), 20 Harry Cartwright (Bishop Burton College), 21 Ben Taylor (Bishop Burton College), 22 Ben MacNamara (Pocklington), 23 Harry Matthews (Pocklington).

Travelling Reserves: James Malcolmson & Oren Loftus (both Queen Ethelburga’s).


Worcester Warriors:

15 Finn Morgan (Bromsgrove), 14 Tom Matthews (RGS Worcester), 13 Paul Wells (Stourport HS), 12 Sebastien Atkinson (Bromsgrove), 11 Tom O’Hanlon (Solihull), 10 Finn Smith (Warwick), 9 Harry Mitcham (Stourport HS), 1 Lewis Holsey (Solihull), 2 Jon Lilly (Stourport HS), 3 Lewis Ballinger (Stourport HS), 4 Jack  Goodwin (Hartpury College), 5 Jack Forsythe (Warwick), 6 Finn Thomas (Oldbury Wells), 7 Will Higgins (Idsall), 8 Morgan Monks (Stourport HS).

Replacements: 16 Ben Turner (Bromsgrove), 17 Monty Royston (Hartpury College), 18 Jaime Constantine (Hartpury College), 19 Owen McDougall (Solihull), 20 Ewen Guy (Bromsgrove), 21 TBC, 22 Peter Olley (Bromsgrove), 23 Lewis Maddox (Bromsgrove).



15 Brooke Turner, 14 Oli Parmar, 13 Louis Hilman-Cooper, 12 Isaac Marsh, 11 Max Fletcher, 10 George Barton, 9 Matty Jones, 1 Harry Fry, 2 Ethan Hunt, 3 Jenson Boughton, 4 Archie Benson, 5 Freddie Thomas, 6 Joe Howard (c), 7 Josh Gray, 8 Jack Clement.

Replacements: 16 Leyton Chambers, 17 Rowan Mullis, 18 Harry Daynes, 19 Archie Tarbuck, 20 Harry Taylor, 2. Harry Gipson, 22 Tommy Mathews, 23 Brad Morgan.

Travelling Reserves: Reading, Lerwell, Howells.



15 Max Bliss (Dulwich College), 14 Daniel James (Townsend C of E), 13 Cameron Furley (St Albans), 12 Josh Hallett (New Hall), 11 Jake Morris (Bishop Stortford College), 10 Josh Barton (Berkhamsted), 9 Sam Bryan (Felsted), 1 Jevaughn Warren (Oaklands College), 2 Theodore Dan (Alleyn’s), 3 Harvey Beaton (Sutton Valence), 4 Alex Wardell (Felsted), 5 George Whalley (Felsted), 6 Ethan Benson (Hayes), 7 Toby Knight (Berkhamsted), 8 Oliver Stonham (Felsted, c)

Replacements: 16 Edward Holroyd (Haileybury), 17 Tom Brearley (Dulich College), 18 Harry Sturge (Felsted), 19 Toby Ponsford (Skinners), 20 Matt Mahoney (Mill Hill), 21 Jacob Buckley (Eltham College), 22 Brandon Jackson (Sutton Valence), 23 Harrison Obatoyinbo (Harrow).


Harlequins (from):


S Riley (St George’s College), J Salomon (Caterham), A Salomon (Whitgift), F Baxter (Wellington College), D. Thomas (Hurstpierpoint College), P Green (Seaford College), S Davies (Cranleigh), E Powell (Brighton College), E Croy (Dulwich College), H Dugmore (Whitgift), T Scalabrini (Wellington College), J Reid (Wellington College), W Trenholm (Cranleigh).


M Davies (Dulwich College), L Smith (Brighton College), J Williams (Harrodian), L Anyanwu (Christ’s Hospital), J Haynes (Epsom College), L Lynagh (Hampton), H Hyde (Cranleigh), O Beard (Cranleigh), A Clayton (Brighton College), A Barry (Hampton).


Bristol Bears:

15 Tom Wilstead, 14 Chay Mullins, 13 Tom Jones (c), 12 Harry Ascherl, 11 Jack Bates, 10 Ioan Lloyd, 9 Blake Boyland, 1 Sean Ihegie, 2 Joel Coughlin, 3 Jay Burley, 4 Charlie Rice, 5 Andrew Watson, 6 Harry Chase, 7 Ben Tothill, 8 Fergus Dick.

Replacements: 16 Charlie Squier, 17 Aaron Thompson, 18 Harry Samuel, 19 Spencer Power, 20 Andrew Hewitt, 21 Tom Stephens, 22 Tom Quinlan, 23 Freddie Wooler.


London Irish: TBA


Exeter Chiefs: TBA


Round 2 Fixtures (Friday 2st/Saturday 22nd December):



Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers

Wasps v Worcester Warriors

Yorkshire Carnegie v Sale Sharks



Bath v Exeter Chiefs

Bristol Bears v Gloucester

Harlequins v London Irish


Round 3 Fixtures (5th/6th January):



Leicester Tigers v Wasps

Newcastle Falcons v Yorkshire Carnegie

Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints


Bristol Bears v Exeter Chiefs

Gloucester v Bath

Saracens v Harlequins


Round 4 Fixtures (12th/13th January):



Leicester Tigers

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons

Yorkshire Carnegie v Wasps



Bath v Bristol Bears

Gloucester v Harlequins

Saracens v London Irish


Round 5 Fixtures (19th/20th January):



Leicester Tigers v Yorkshire Carnegie

Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors

Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints



Exeter Chiefs v Saracens

Harlequins v Bath

London Irish v Bristol Bears


Round 6 Fixtures (2nd/3rd February):



Sale Sharks v Newcastle Falcons

Wasps v Northampton Saints

Worcester Warriors v Leicester Tigers



Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins

London Irish v Gloucester

Saracens v Bath


Round 7 Fixtures (9th February):



Northampton Saints v Yorkshire Carnegie

Wasps v Newcastle Falcons

Worcester Warriors v Sale Sharks



Bath v London Irish

Bristol Bears v Saracens

Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester


U18 Academy League Finals Day – Sunday 17th February, Allianz Park

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