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School Rugby: AASE League rebrands, Henley College join the party

The AASE League will be rebranded for the 2020/21 as the ACE League, while there will also be some changes to the structure of the competition, too.

The full title for the new branding is the Academy Colleges & Education League, but it will be known as the ACE League as the 11 years of being known as the AASE League comes to an end. In those 11 seasons that it has run, Hartpury College have won it nine time, the only other winners being Exeter College in 2016 and St Paul’s Catholic College last season, 2019.

As in previous years, there will be fourteen teams in the competition. Those fourteen sides will be split into two divisions, North and South, with seven teams in each. Each team is affiliated to a Senior Academy at a top club. However there will be changes this year with Moulton College dropping out of the league, leaving a space in the Northern Conference.

That means that Northampton Saints will no longer have an affiliated side in the league, leaving them and Harlequins as the only two Gallagher Premiership clubs without a side in the competition. Wasps ‘affiliates, City of Oxford College, will move from the Southern Conference to the Northern Conference to plug the gap left by Moulton College, having had a successful first season in the league last year.

Filling the space in the Southern Conference that is left by City of Oxford College will be a side that will be very familiar to those in the Wasps Academy, and fans of the AASE League over the last few years, The Henley College.

Henley College were Wasps’ side in the League prior to Wasps’ move to Coventry, but the college has now formed a partnership with the exciting Ealing Trailfinders Academy. With Ealing challenging regularly at the top of the Greene King IPA Championship now and with a successful partnership with Brunel University, the link up with Henley College could prove highly popular with prospective players and pupils, and highly fruitful for the club in terms of producing top level players.

Henley College will be joined in the Southern Conference by the only three winners in ACE League history, Hartpury College, Exeter College, and St Paul’s Catholic College, affiliated with Gloucester, Exeter Chiefs, and London Irish respectively. Alongside those four will be Beechen Cliff (Bath), SGS Filton College (Bristol Bears), and Truro College, Exeter Chiefs’ second affiliate in the league.

Meanwhile, in moving to the Northern Conference, City of Oxford College will be in a league with Saracens’ Oaklands College, Leicester Tigers’ Brooksby Melton College, Gosforth Academy (Newcastle Falcons), Myerscough College (Sale Sharks), Bishop Burton College (Yorkshire Carnegie), and another of the more recent sides to have joined the league, Worcester Warriors’ affiliates, Stourport High School.

ACE League Teams:

Northern Conference

Bishop Burton College (Yorkshire Carnegie)

Brooksby Melton College (Leicester Tigers)

City of Oxford College (Wasps)

Gosforth Academy (Newcastle Falcons)

Oaklands College (Saracens)

Myerscough College (Sale Sharks)

Stourport High School (Worcester Warriors)

Southern Conference

Beechen Cliff (Bath)

Exeter College (Exeter Chiefs)

Hartpury College (Gloucester)

Henley College (Ealing Trailfinders)

SGS Filton College (Bristol Bears)

St Paul’s Catholic College (London Irish)

Truro College (Exeter Chiefs)

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