The 2019/20 U18 Academy League season begins this weekend, with 12 of the 14 academies in action in this opening weekend.
The fourteen academies, the twelve Gallagher Premiership sides plus Newcastle Falcons and Yorkshire Carnegie, are split into two groups of seven, as ever. The Northern Conference sees Leicester Tigers, Newcastle Falcons, Northampton Saints, Sale Sharks, Wasps, Worcester Warriors, and Yorkshire Carnegie drawn together, while in the Southern Conference Bath, Bristol Bears, Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester, Harlequins, London Irish, and Saracens are drawn together.
Each side will play the others in their conference once, meaning one side in each conference will have a by each round. Games taking place this weekend, next weekend, and the weekend of the 28th December, although some of that round takes place in the first weekend of January. Into the New Year and Round 4 takes place on the weekend of the 11th January, with Round 5 on the weekend of the 18th. The final two rounds take place over the weekend of the 25th January and the 8th February.
The top three sides from those conferences will then meet their counterparts at the U18 Academy League finals day on Sunday 16th February.
The back to back champions, Leicester Tigers, kick off the action in the Northern Conference with a 12pm kick off against their great East Midlands rivals, Northampton Saints. The 12pm kick off at Oval Park sees two strong sides going head to head, Rugby’s Ben Muncaster skippered Tigers from number 8 is one of many to keep an eye on, so too Northampton School for Boys fly half Ethan Grayson, who lines up at inside centre for Northampton.
Warwick School will host the other Saturday game in the Northern Conference as Wasps host Yorkshire Carnegie at 1pm. Wasps’ Abingdon fly half Charlie Atkinson is a rapidly rising star with England U18 experience, his schoolmate James Coombs captains the side from loosehead. Yorkshire Carnegie are stocked with plenty of exciting talent too, Olly Fisher at scrum half among them, with George Bennett-Teare captaining them from number 8.
The Northern Conference action finishes up on Sunday at 2.30pm as Sale Sharks, who have had some thrilling U18 sides in recent times, host Worcester Warriors at Manchester Metropolitan University. Sale are captained by the experience Ollie Leatherbarrow at number 8, one of a number of Kirkham Grammar School players in the side. Look out too for the likes of Ewan Murphy and Elliot Gourlay, among others. Worcester Warriors are yet to name their side but are likes to have plenty from the strong Bromsgrove and Warwick School sides in the area.
The Southern Conference kicks the 2019/20 Academy League season off as Saracens host Exeter Chiefs at Allianz Park on Friday night, 7pm. Saracens have had plenty of Academy players make the leap in recent years and there are plenty in this group that could too, not least Felsted scrum half Sam Bryan. Bryan’s opposite number is a man to keep an eye on, too. Tom Cairns will skipper Exeter Chiefs from scrum half.
On Saturday Shaftesbury Park will be the venue for the 11.30am kick off between Bristol Bears and Bath. Bristol are led by openside Jamie Collier and feature plenty of exciting young players, among them right wing Deago Bailey, with plenty of Clifton College’s young stars across the side. Bath are yet to name their side but talent from the likes of Millfield, Sherborne, and Canford to select from, among others, plus the AASE finalists, Beechen Cliff, they should have an exciting young side.
The final game in the Southern Conference sees Gloucester host London Irish at Dean Close School on Saturday, kicking off at 12pm. Gloucester have split their captaincy between two young England U18 stars, Cheltenham College centre Louis Hillman-Cooper taking charge of the backs and Clifton College openside Harry Taylor looking after the forwards. They are two of just a number of exciting players in the Gloucester ranks, they recently had 5 players named in the England U18 squad. London Irish have an exciting squad too, though. Among their ranks are England U18 and Millfield star Will Joseph at outside centre, while inside him Matthew Barrett will captain the side. There are also a number of Wellington College’s successful side in the team, among them Marcus Rhodes, Lucas Brooke, and Monty Bradbury, plus the man of the match from the AASE final, St Paul’s Catholic College’s Tarek Haffar.
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U18 Academy League Round 1 Fixtures:
Leicester Tigers v Northampton Saints – Sat, 12pm, Oval Park
Wasps v Yorkshire Carnegie – Sat, 1pm, Warwick School
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors – Sun, 2.30pm, Manchester Met Uni
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs – Fri, 7pm, Allianz Park
Bristol Bears v Bath – Sat, 11.30am, Shaftesbury Park
Gloucester v London Irish – Sat, 12pm, Dean Close School
U18 Academy League Teams News:
15 Jack Taylor, 14 Jake Sterland, 13 Ollie Smith, 12 Matt Potts, 11 Josh Lugsden, 10 Charlie Titcombe, 9 Sam Edwards, 1 Lynx Noumey, 2 Archie Vanes, 3 Jack Rowntree, 4 Phil Tandoh, 5 Bob Singer, 6 Jordan Tebbatt, 7 Kit Smith, 8 Ben Muncaster (c).
Replacements: 16 Joe Plunkett, 17 Seb Smith, 18 Tim Hoyt, 19 Jay Ecclesfield, 20 Noah Leo, 21 Jed Gelderbloom, 22 Billy Hull, 23 Harry Sturmey.
15 Jed Jenkins, 14 Louis Martin, 13 Tom Litchfield, 12 Ethan Grayson, 11 Dani Long-Martinez, 10 Matt Arden, 9 Bradley Crane, 1 Jarno Longaretti, 2 Callum Burns (c), 3 Josh Cilia, 4 Ed Clayton, 5 Dan Makepeace, 6 Tom Ball, 7 James Chalk, 8 Ethan Wright.
Replacements: 16 Finn McCartney, 17 Olly Frostick, 18 Jake Bridges, 19 Tom Heslop, 20 Geordie Irvine, 21 Jake Garside, 22 Ollie Bevan, 23 Josh Bull.
15 Ollie Dawkins (RGS High Wycombe), 14 Luke Bray (RGS High Wycombe), 13 Reketi Ma’asi (Harrow), 12 Olly Hartley (Whitgift), 11 Scott Harman (City of Oxford College), 10 Charlie Atkinson (Abingdon), 9 Ollie Monye (The Oratory), 1 James Coombs (Abingdon, captain), 2 Andy Petros (City of Oxford College), 3 Max Morphey (City of Oxford College), 4 Alfie Bell (King Henry VIII, Coventry), 5 Fyn Brown (Shiplake College), 6 Jack English (Coventry College), 7 Kofi Cripps (Rugby), 8 Nic Jakobsen (Bromsgrove).
Replacements: 16 Archie McArthur (City of Oxford College), 17 Isaac Kayada (Rugby), 18 Josh Macco (City of Oxford College), 19 Pietro Turrisi (City of Oxford College), 20 Greg Fisilau (City of Oxford College), 21 Jack Hughes (Rugby), 22 Evan Mitchell (Finham Park), 23 Toby Baldwin (Rugby).
15 Benedict Quinn, 14 Jack Cherry, 13 Freddy Clark, 12 Joe Mounsey, 11 Jack Haydock, 10 Theo Smerdon, 9 Olly Fisher, 1 Oscar Stott, 2 David Moores, 3 Billy Addy, 4 Will Dixon, 5 Harry Gilson-Fox, 6 Ben Copley, 7 Jacob Head, 8 George Bennett-Teare (c).
Replacements: 16 Ethan Myers, 17 Ned Hawker, 18 Zsolt Patacky-Snell, 19 Lucas Powell, 20 Olly Tomalin, 21 Will Metcalfe, 22 Harry Matthews, 23 Willem Johnson.
15 Elliot Gourlay, 14 Cameron Melville, 13 Roma Zheng, 12 Joe Bedlow, 11 Owen Fisher, 10 Patrick Bishop, 9 Nye Thomas, 1 Tumy Onasanya, 2 Ethan Caine, 3 Corey Bowker, 4 Ewan Murphy, 5 Nonso Agina, 6 Alastair Merill, 7 Max Hackson, 8 Ollie Leatherbarrow (c).
Replacements: 16 Dan Cooper, 17 Harris Fishwick, 18 Louis Fletcher, 19 Nathan Brooks, 20 Alfie Clarke, 21 Murray Redpath, 22 Josh Clarke, 23 Archie Kellett.
15 Francis Moore, 14 Tom Mills, 13 Brandon Jackson, 12 James Bliss, 11 Wilson Ijeh, 10 Alex Cahill, 9 Sam Bryan, 1 Zack Hill, 2 Ehimen Osebor, 3 Alfie Goater, 4 Kaden Pearce-Paul, 5 Toby Ponsford, 6 Samson Adejimi, 7 Nathan Bispham, 8 Toby Knight.
Replacements: 16 Charlie Galligan, 17 Christiaan Cavali-Warby, 18 Terrl Harry, 19 Alex Wardell, 20 Harvey Smith, 21 Charles Favell, 22 Luc McNally-Drew, 23 Daniel James, 24 Matthew Cannon, 25 Tobias Elliott.
15 Frankie Nowell, 14 Kian Gentry, 13 Archie Hill, 12 Ben Hammersley, 11 Charlie Levick, 10 Iwan Jenkins, 9 Tom Cairns (c), 1 Harry Wilkinson, 2 Harry Hocking, 3 Bailey Williams, 4 Sam Leworthy, 5 Milo Hallam, 6 Joe Elsworth, 7 Jake Bond, 8 Ben Grubb.
Replacements: 16 Oli Jeffrey, 17 Ewan Stephens, 18 Declan Prowse, 19 Jermaine Ellis-Brookes, 20 Tommy Woodward, 21 Josh Pilkington, 22 Charlie McCaig, 23 Jack Carden.
15 Benjy Joseland, 14 Deago Bailey, 13 Harry Rowson, 12 Dylan Power, 11 Ollie Holiday, 10 Tom Wilstead, 9 Angus Judkins, 1 Andrew Turner, 2 Jalen Curry, 3 Andrew Thompson, 4 George Tayor, 5 Charlie Rice, 6 Fergus Dick, 7 Jamie Collier (c), 8 McKenzie Duncan.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Gwilliam, 17 Tom Sims, 18 George Perry, 19 Alex Ashton, 20 Morgan Jones, 21 JJ Williams, 22 Freddie Vaughn, 23 Chay Mullins.
15 Nowells, 14 Norman, 13 Hillman-Cooper (co-captain), 12 Adderly-Jones, 11 Burgess, 10 Humphreys, 9 Jones, 1 Reading, 2 Blake, 3 Piercy, 4 Clark, 5 Thomas, 6 Scriven, 7 Taylor (co-captain), 8 Williams.
Replacements: 16 Veness, 17 Tyson, 18 Pollard, 19 Hamilton, 20 Sprague, 21 Gillott, 22 Freeman, 23 Rowland.
15 Finley Brown, 14 Henry Arundell, 13 Will Joseph, 12 Matthew Barrett (c), 11 Jesper Hartikainen, 10 Monty Bradbury, 9 Rory Morgan, 1 Tarek Haffar, 2 Joseph Vajner, 3 Joe Keohane, 4 Josh Taylor, 5 Sam Harding, 6 Lucas Brooke, 7 George Davis, 8 Marcus Rhodes.
Replacements: 16 Rupert Reddish, 17 Ethan Pawadyira, 18 Oscar Jansen, 19 Edwin Zaimovic, 20 Freddie Fearnley, 21 Dan Ormond, 22 Niall McGann, 23 Ben Fitzgerald.
Newcastle Falcons v Wasps – Sat 21st Dec, 2pm, Kingston Park
Yorkshire Carnegie v Northampton Saints – Sat 21st Dec, 2pm, Skipton Road
Sale Sharks v Leicester Tigers – Sun 22nd Dec, 2.30pm, Manchester Met Uni
Gloucester v Bristol Bears – Fri 20th Dec, 7pm, Newlands Park
London Irish v Harlequins – Sat 21st Dec, 11am, Hazelwood
Bath v Saracens – Sat 21st Dec, 12.30pm, Recreation Ground
Worcester Warriors v Wasps – Sat 28th Dec, 12pm, Sixways
Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons – Sat 28th Dec, 2pm, Oval Park
Northampton Saints v Sale Sharks – Sun 5th Jan, 2pm, Franklin’s Gardens
Harlequins v Gloucester – Sat 28th Dec, 12pm, Rosslyn Park FC
London Irish v Saracens – Sat 28th Dec, 12pm, Hazelwood
Exeter Chiefs v Bath – Sat 4th January, 2pm, Truro College
Yorkshire Carnegie v Leicester Tigers – Sat 11th Jan, 12.30pm, Yarnbury RFC
Northampton Saints v Worcester – Sat 11th Jan, 2pm, Franklin’s Gardens
Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks – Sun 12th Jan, 2pm, Kingston Park
London Irish v Bath – Sat 11th Jan, 1pm, Hazelwood
Harlequins v Exeter Chiefs – Sat 11th Jan, 2pm, Surrey Sports Park
Saracens v Bristol Bears – Sun 12th Jan, 1pm, Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Wasps – Sat 18th Jan, 1.30pm, Franklin’s Gardens
Worcester Warriors v Newcastle Falcons – Sun 19th Jan, 2pm, Sixways
Sale Sharks v Yorkshire Carnegie – Sun 19th Jan, 2.30pm, Manchester Met Uni
Bath v Harlequins – Sat 18th Jan, TBA, TBA
Bristol Bears v London Irish – Sat 18th Jan, 11.30am, Shaftesbury Park
Gloucester v Exeter Chiefs – Sat 18th Jan, 1.30pm, Newlands Park
Yorkshire Carnegie v Newcastle Falcons – Sat 25th Jan, TBA, TBA
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors – Sat 25th Jan, 12pm, Oval Park
Wasps v Sale Sharks – Sat 25th Jan, 1pm, Ricoh Arena
Bristol Bears v Harlequins – Sat 25th Jan, 1pm, Combination Ground
Saracens v Gloucester – Sat 25th Jan, 1pm, Allianz Park
Exeter Chiefs v London Irish – Sat 25th Jan, 2pm, Truro College
Wasps v Leicester Tigers – Sat 8th Feb, 1pm, Aylesbury RFC
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints – Sat 8th Feb, 2pm, Kingston Park
Worcester Warriors v Yorkshire Carnegie – Sat 8th Feb, 2pm, Sixways
Harlequins v Saracens – Sat 8th Feb, 1.30pm, Surrey Sports Park
Bath v Gloucester – Sat 8th Feb, 2pm, Millfield School
Exeter Chiefs v Bristol Bears – Sat 8th Feb, 2pm, Truro College
Finals Day – Sunday 16th February