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School Rugby: Gordon’s School & Harlequins pair up to enter ACE League

Harlequins and Gordon’s School have announced a partnership that will see the Surrey school enter the ACE League (formerly AASE) in the 2021/22 season.

Gordon’s have been working with Harlequins for some time and their rugby has been on the rise for a few years now, but this new step will see the partnership deepen as Harlequins enter the ACE League for the first time, having been the only Premiership Academy without a team representing them in the league.

Together Harlequins and Gordon’s will be delivering the Diploma in Sporting Excellence (D.I.S.E) programme, which aims to provide an outstanding rugby and academic development programme for talented young players to achieve their potential both on and off the pitch.

For Harlequins it should strengthen an already booming academy thanks, in part, to a catchment area that includes some of the finest independent school teams in the country. This will add a strong state school element to that, with Gordon’s regarded as one of the top state boarding schools in the country.

Speaking on the club’s official website, Harlequins Academy Coach Jim Evans said: “We’re thrilled to announce our partnership with Gordon’s School…This is something we’ve wanted to do for several years.”

“We feel having one school that allows us a little more contact time, up to twelve hours a week, is an excellent opportunity for anyone that comes to Gordon’s both from and academic and rugby perspective. The students…will have the opportunity to play in the ACE League next season, where the standard of rugby is very high, whilst also receiving a first-class education. This is also another opportunity for the club to provide more entry points than exit points into the sport.

Joining the ACE League will see Gordon’s face the likes of Gloucester partners Hartpury College, London Irish’s St Paul’s Catholic College, and Exeter Chefs’ two sides, Truro College and Exeter College. The League was cancelled for the 2020/21 season as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, so the next time the ACE League is in action it will include Gordon’s and Harlequins.

The school’s Director of Sport, Jamie Harrison, said to the Harlequins website: Gordon’s School is delighted to be working closely with Harlequins. We recognise there is great rugby talent in the region, and this offers young players an opportunity that did not previously exist. Hopefully, some of these players are going to secure professional contracts, but obviously not all will and it is important they receive a strong academic programme alongside the development of their rugby skills.

Director of Rugby Chris Davis, who will coordinate the programme, said: The ACE League is a very high standard of rugby, but with Harlequins’ support in areas such as strength and conditioning, match analysis, positional one on one coaching and physiotherapy, the players have the best opportunity to achieve their full potential.

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