Premiership Rugby U18 Academy League: Preview & Team News as Academy League reaches midpoint

Wasps U18’s v Worcester Warriors U18’s in the Premiership Rugby Academy League at Aylesbury RFC on Saturday 8 January 2022.
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Coach Logic

The Premiership Rugby U18 Academy League reaches its mid point this weekend with round four of seven.

After seven rounds the fourteen teams will have played the other sides in their pool once each, and will then head to finals day on the 19th/20th February, where they will face their counterpart from the other pool. For the winners of the North Pool and South Pool that will mean a head to head for the 2022 Premiership Rugby U18 Academy League title.

At the moment there are a few sides making strong challenge to be in that big final, in the North Pool Sale Sharks are unbeaten, having recorded victories over Northampton Saints, Leicester Tigers, and Worcester Warriors, while in the South Pool Saracens have also won three from three, beating London Irish, Bath, and Exeter Chiefs. Harlequins are the one of two other unbeaten sides, they had a bye in the opening round and have since beaten London Irish and Gloucester, Bristol Bears are the other with two from two, they had a bye last week after previous victories against Bath and Gloucester.

Images thanks to NickBImages (@nickbimages)

Round 4 Fixtures & Team News:

North (Bye Week for Wasps)

Leicester Tigers v Yorkshire Academy – Saturday 15th Jan, 5pm, Loughborough Uni

At the time of writing Leicester Tigers are yet to release their team as they look to build on their first victory of the campaign last week against Newcastle Falcons. Yorkshire Academy are searching for a first victory of the campaign, they had a bye week last week after defeats to Northampton Saints and Wasps and have made a few changes to the side that faced Saints. Worthington moves from the right wing to full back, with Yates going the other way, while Howells comes in at inside centre. Parker returns at loosehead after missing the last game, while Peach comes in at lock and Heptinstall gets an opportunity on the openside, having missed out in round 2 and started at 8 in round 1. On the bench Medway, Smith, and McCormack could all make their first appearacens of the campaign.

Leicester Tigers: TBA

Yorkshire Academy

15 G Worthington, 14 F Yates, 13 B Horberry, 12 J Howells, 11 O Aston, 10 J Harris (c), 9 B Parkin, 1 P Parker, 2 L Inman, 3 T Raymont, 4 T Burrow, 5 T Peach, 6 J Billington, 7 G Heptinstall, 8 H Du Boulay.

Replacements: 16 B Spruyt, 17 A Medway, 18 H Mathew, 19 E Smith, 20 B Turpin, 21 D Talakai, 22 N McCormack.

Sale Sharks v Newcastle Falcons – Sunday 16th Jan, 2pm, Heywood Road

Sale Sharks’ quest to keep their unbeaten start going continues on Sunday against a Newcastle Falcons side that are in search of the first victory after defeats to Leicester Tigers and Wasps. Sale, unsurprisingly given how well the season has started, make very few changes to their side. 14 of the starting side that beat Northampton Saints remain, with Tom Campbell coming in at openside for Tristan Woodman, who will still run out with the bench, who are also otherwise unchanged. Newcastle Falcons also keep things to just one change, Gosforth Academy’s Ayden Knott is promoted to the starting XV at lock with Sedbergh’s Finn Baker reverting to the bench, while Baker’s schoolmate Jake Metcalfe returns on the bench after an enforced absence having started back in Falcons’ opener.

Sale Sharks

15 Leo Zheng, 14 Ben Verbickas, 13 Aaron Pope, 12 Ben Motamed, 11 Efan Edwards, 10 Charlie Wardle, 9 Will Wootton, 1 Jack Ellam, 2 Harry Thompson, 3 Patreece Bell, 4 Will Riley, 5 Ellis Causey, 6 Yande Nkonge, 7 Tom Campbell, 8 Huw Davies (c).

Replacements: 16 Charlie Bancroft, 17 Gareth Parry, 18 Theo Bishop, 19 Paddy Jones, 20 Tristan Woodman, 21 Kieran Kerr, 22 Fin Rogers, 23 Henry Harper.

Newcastle Falcons

15 Ben Redshaw (Sedbergh), 14 Natty Greenwood (Gosforth Academy), 13 Jez Civil (Gosforth Academy), 12 Will Hindle (Gosforth Academy), 11 Tom Burton (Sedbergh), 10 Harry Williams (Barnard Castle), 9 Ben Douglas (Gosforth Academy), 1 Micky Rewcastle (Gosforth Academy), 2 Charlie Smith (Dame Allan’s), 3 Morgan Hall (Gosforth Academy), 4 Ayden Knott (Gosforth Academy), 5 Luke Coulston (Gosforth Academy), 6 Braemar Murray (Sedbergh), 7 Ewan Venerus (RGS Newcastle), 8 Zach Oldham (Gosforth Academy).

Replacements: 16 Jacob Oliver (Barnard Castle), 17 Isaac Keller (Gosforth Academy), 18 Sam Birkbeck (QES Kirkby Lonsdale), 19 Finn Baker (Sedbergh), 20 Will Murray (Gosforth Academy), 21 Freddie Nickalls (RGS Newcastle), 22 Jake Metcalfe (Sedbergh), 23 Toby Ferguson (QES Hexham).

Worcester Warriors v Northampton Saints – Saturday 15th Jan, 2.30pm, Sixways

Worcester Warriors picked up their first victory last week, beating a Wasps side who had won their opening two fixtures of the campaign. Unsurprisingly therefore they keep the changes to a minimum, Dan Chambers is promoted from the bench to start at full back, with Solihull’s Jack Kinder moving to the wing. Chambers’ Stourport High colleague Ethan Allen moves up from the bench to start at hooker, with Loic Keasey this time starting from the bench, Ellis Locke meanwhile returns to the bench, after missing last week, where he is joined by Stourport’s Mikey Yalland, who is in line for a first appearance of the campaign. 

Northampton Saints meanwhile are looking to bounce back from that defeat to Sale having won their previous two games, and they have made a few changes. The backline see a real re-jig, with Rugby’s Tommy Taylor getting his first start of the campaign, he starts at fly half, which pushes Radley College’s Toby Thame from 10 to inside centre, and in turn RHS’ Archie Kean from 12 to 13. Oakham’s Toby Cousins therefore moves from 13 to the left wing, with Northampton School for Boys’ Frankie Sleighholme moving to the bench, meanwhile Stowe’s Archie McParland gets a first start at scrum half since round 1. Up front Felsted’s Craig Wright is back at hooker, where he started in the opening two rounds, while Oundle’s Aiden Kabi returns at lock where he is joined by Colchester RGS’ George Lavender, who moves there from 6. Ted Reid therefore moves from 7 to 6, with Stowe’s Henry Pollock coming in on the openside for his first start. On the bench Aston Gradwick-Light and Oscar Bennett are in line for their first appearances, while Levi Wilson returns after missing the previous round.

Worcester Warriors

15 Dan Chambers (Stourport High), 14 Oli Smith (Hartpury College), 13 Will Pugh (Stourport High, vc), 12 Archie Jones (Stourport High), 11 Jack Kinder (Solihull), 10 Jack Condliffe (Stourport High), 9 Alex Terry (King’s Worcester), 1 Lewys Walsh (Hartpury College), 2 Ethan Allen (Stourport High), 3 Will Couch (Hartpury College), 4 Will Chater (King’s Worcester), 5 Harvey Cuckson (Ellesmere College), 6 Will Owen (Ellesmere College), 7 Owen Boxall (Bishop Vesey’s Grammar), 8 Theo Mayell (Monmouth, captain).

Replacements: 16 Loic Keasey (RGS Worcester), 17 Ellis Locke (Stourport High), 18 Arron Hackett (Stourport High), 19 Sam Hawes (King’s Worcester), 20 Woody Facey (Hartpury College), 21 Reiss Price (Stourport High), 22 Billy McDonough (Bromsgrove), 23 Mikey Yalland (Stourport High)

Northampton Saints

15 Jody Devine (Samuel Whitbread Academy), 14 Ethan Thorne (St Joseph’s College), 13 Archie Kean (Royal Hospital School), 12 Toby Thame (Radley College), 11 Toby Cousins (Oakham), 10 Tommy Taylor (Rugby), 9 Archie McParland (Stowe), 1 Callum Smyth (Bedford), 2 Craig Wright (Felsted), 3 Nicholas Tarr (Mark Rutherford), 4 Aiden Kabi (Oundle), 5 George Lavender (Colchester RGS), 6 Ted Reid (Colchester RGS), 7 Henry Pollock (Stowe), 8 George Patten (Northampton School for Boys, captain).

Replacements: 16 Aston Gradwick-Light (Rugby), 17 Sam Ferrari (Samuel Whitbread Academy), 18 Dave Bennett (Rugby), 19 James Bennett (Bedford), 20 Levi Wilson (St Joseph’s College), 21 Harry Hall (Ipswich), 22 Oscar Bennett (Bedford), 23 Frankie Sleightholme (Northampton School for Boys).

South (Bye Week for Gloucester)

Bath v London Irish – Saturday 15th Jan, 12.15pm Chippenham RFC

Bath secured their first victory of the campaign last week against Exeter Chiefs and will be eager to make it back to back victories against London Irish in the lunchtime kick off. They are boosted by the return of Beechen Cliff’s Will Jeanes, who returns to the second row after injury and co-captains the side along with Sherborne outside centre Will Parry. Jeanes’ return means Max Jenkins returns to the 8 shirt from the second row, and with Archie McKibben out George Timmins moves from 6 to 7 with Jack Haythornthwaite coming in at 6 after being on the bench last week. On the bench Scott Kirk, Abdul-Khalik Akenua Al Kareem, and Kamoto Kamanga Dyrbak could all make their first appearances of the campaign, while the big news is that Arthur Green is fit to take a spot on the bench. The Sherborne man was injured while captaining the side back in round 1. 

London Irish, meanwhile, are looking to bounce back after two incredibly close defeats to local rivals Harlequins and Saracens in the last two rounds. They have made a handful of changes to an already strong side, bringing Sam Rockley of Bishop Wand across from the left wing to the right wing, with Mill Hill’s Oscar Daniel moving from outside centre to the left wing as Alex Enright returns to the side at outside centre after missing the last game. Up from Harrow’s Oliver Stirling moves from the second row to number 8, with Connor O’Byrne of Wellington College returning to the starting side in the second row. Harrow’s George Hamblin gets a run on the bench after missing out in previous rounds.

Bath

15 James Redman, 14 Byron Lloyd-Gilmour, 13 Will Parry (cc), 12 Sam Harris, 11 Max Ashton, 10 Raff Weston, 9 Ieuan Davies, 1 Tom Hill, 2 Max Pearce, 3 Billy Sela, 4 Eddie Erskine, 5 Will Jeanes (cc), 6 Jack Haythornthwaite, 7 George Timmins, 8 Max Jenkins.

Replacements: 16 Tommy McLean, 17 Scott Kirk, 18 Ellis Baker, 19 Abdul-Khalik Akenzua Al Kareem, 20 Arthur Green, 21 Sam Curwen, 22 Rory Crum, 23 Kamoto Kamanga-Dyrbak.

London Irish

15 George Cubitt-Makepeace (Henley College), 14 Sam Rockley (Bishop Wand), 13 Alex Enright (Bishop Wand), 12 Connor Cross (Hampton), 11 Oscar Daniel (Mill Hill), 10 Rory Taylor (Wellington College), 9 Ollie Allan (Bishop Wand), 1 Oran Murphy (Hinchley Wood), 2 Rhys Day (Epsom College), 3 Afolabi Fasogbon (Bishop Wand), 4 Connor O’Byrne (Wellington College), 5 Jarlath Gleeson (City of London Freemen’s), 6 Roman Barton-Knott (Bishop Wand), 7 Louie Kirkham (Bishop Wand, captain), 8 Oliver Stirling (Harrow).

Replacements: 16 Tolii Reeves-Hall (Bishop Wand), 17 Kassim Dawud (Bishop Wand), 18 Kade Bird (Epsom College), 19 George Hamblin (Harrow), 20 Oscar Grantham (Bishop Wand), 21 Matt Salisbury (Bishop Wand), 22 Solomon Arbuthnot-Whittaker (Wellington College).

Bristol Bears v Saracens – Saturday 15th Jan, 1.30pm, Dings Crusaders

Fresh from their week off, Bristol Bears are keen to make it three wins from three and they have kept a remarkably consistent side once again. Aaron Tull of Clifton College continues to captain the side from the blindside flank, and the only change to the side that defeated Gloucester sees Jimmy Halliwell promoted from the bench to start at tighthead, Billy Moran going the other way. On the bench Billy Marsden, Peter Paramore, and star Clifton College fly half Sam Worsley are all in line for their first appearances of the campaign.

Saracens meanwhile have an even bigger unbeaten record to protect as they look to make it four in a row after those victories over London Irish, Bath, and Exeter Chiefs. They have made plenty of changes to their side, including a move that sees Berkhamsted star Tobias Elliott shift from 12 to 15. In doing so, there is a new all-Sutton Valence centre combination, with Jenson McInulty coming in at 13 and Tom Barton filling the Elliott void at inside centre. Up from Ikhi Osebor of Haileybury comes in for his first start at loosehead in a swap with Freddie Chapman, while Simon Langton Grammar’s Kennedy Sylvester comes in at lock, with Jacob Ray of Sutton Valence in on the openside flank. On the bench Will Stanford, Olamide Sodeke, and Louie Sinclair could all make their first appearances of the campaign.

Bristol Bears

15 Sami Hamid, 14 Gabe Lacey, 13 Isaac Campbell Wu, 12 Lucas Berti, 11 Tom Ormsby, 10 Henry Hawkins, 9 Rhys Price, 1 Louis Trevett, 2 James Randall, 3 Jimmy Halliwell, 4 Ollie Thraves, 5 Paddy Pearce, 6 Aaron Tull (c), 7 Charlie Cox, 8 Ed Harvey.

Replacements: 16 George Davey, 17 Billy Marsden, 18 Billy Moran, 19 Peter Paramore, 20 Archie Prewett, 21 Pete Carter, 22 Sam Worsley, 23 Jake Smith.

Saracens

15 Tobias Elliott (Berkhamsted), 14 Micaal McFarlane (Skinners’), 13 Jenson McInulty (Sutton Valence), 12 Tom Barton (Sutton Valence), 11 Charlie Reynolds-West (Oaklands College), 10 Harry Legg (Simon Langton), 9 Charlie Bracken (St Albans), 1 Ikhi Osebor (Haileybury), 2 James Isaacs (Berkhamsted), 3 Charlie Keith (Berkhamsted), 4 Kennedy Sylvester (Simon Langton), 5 Max Eke (St George’s, Harpenden), 6 Barnaby Merrett (Sutton Valence), 7 Jacob Ray (Sutton Valence), 8 Nathan Michelow (Sutton Valence).

Replacements: 16 Alex Witchell (Langley Park), 17 Freddie Chapman (Oaklands College), 18 Will Stanford (Berkhamsted), 19 Olamide Sodeke (Gravesend Grammar), 20 Luca Fahy (Berkhamsted), 21 Louie Sinclair (Finborough), 22 Jack Cullen (St Albans), 23 Toby Clinch (Finborough).

Exeter Chiefs v Harlequins – Saturday 15th Jan, 12pm, Truro College

Exeter Chiefs give Harlequins an early start with the long trip down for a 12pm kick off in Truro, Chiefs are looking for a first victory of the campaign after defeats to Saracens and Bath. Following on from defeat to Bath they make a few changes, Zack Wimbush comes in at outside centre, while u front Rowan Lawrence gets a go at loosehead. In the second row Ed Spurway returns to the side after starting on the flank in the opening round, meanwhile Barnaby Elderkin moves from 6 to 8 with Will Saltmarsh promoted from the bench to start at 6. On the bench Kyle McGhee and Alfie Hammersley could make their first appearances, and there is a return to the bench for Jack Ballett too after missing the last game.

In contrast to Exeter, Harlequins are looking to maintain their unbeaten start after consecutive victories over London Irish and Gloucester following their opening round bye. They make a few changes to the side that beat Gloucester, with Gordon’s Guy Rogers coming in on the right wing and St Paul’s Claudius Wheeler getting a start at loosehead after impressing last time out. Gordon’s Tom Golder also gets a start, he comes into the second row in the only other change. On the bench Churcher’s College’s Jack Thomas could make his first appearances, while Tosin Teriba returns after missing the last game, Whitgift’s Jamie Flatley also returns to the 23 after missing out last time.

Exeter Chiefs

15 Dan Hamilton-Strong, 14 Jack Statton, 13 Zack Wimbush, 12 George Edson, 11 Jude Baker-Hands, 10 Nat Dart, 9 Morgan Stone, 1 Rowan Lawrence, 2 Pete Harris, 3 Tom Gulley, 4 Ed Spurway, 5 Joe Bailey (c), 6 Will Saltmarsh, 7 Seth Findley, 8 Barnaby Elderkin.

Replacements: 16 Jack Ballett, 17 Kyle McGhee, 18 Archie Rolls, 19 Jake Salvi, 20 Jago Sheppard, 21 Joe Walker, 22 Louie Drennan, 23 Alfie Hammersley.

Harlequins

15 Josh Bellamy (Trinity), 14 Guy Rogers (Gordon’s), 13 Ben Waghorn (John Fisher), 12 Ludo Kolade (King’s Canterbury), 11 Finn Tawse (Wellington College), 10 Sean Kerr (Whitgift), 9 Charlie Clare (Brighton College), 1 Claudius Wheeler (St Paul’s), 2 Jack Doorey-Palmer (Worthing College), 3 Caleb Ashworth (Gordon’s), 4 Jonny Green (Seaford College), 5 Tom Golder (Gordon’s), 6 Jonathan Smith (Brighton College), 7 Seb Driscoll (Whitgift), 8 Zach Carr (Dulwich College).

Replacements: 16 Will Ayton (Wellington College), 17 Jack Wadman (Seaford College), 18 Tosin Teriba (Gordon’s), 19 Harry Browne (Brighton College), 20 Theo Martin (Gordon’s), 21 Murdoch Lock (Wellington College), 22 Jamie Flatley (Whitgift), 23 Jack Thomas (Churcher’s College).

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Round 3 Results:

North

Newcastle Falcons 24-27 Leicester Tigers

Sale Sharks 45-19 Northampton Saints

Wasps 14-24 Worcester Warriors

Yorkshire Academy – Bye

South

Bath 26-12 Exeter Chiefs

Gloucester 12-47 Harlequins

Saracens 17-14 London Irish

Bristol Bears – Bye

Round 2 Results:

North

Leicester Tigers 15-33 Sale Sharks

Northampton Saints 36-19 Yorkshire Academy

Wasps 20-14 Newcastle Falcons

Worcester Warriors – Bye

South

Bristol Bears 25-3 Gloucester

Harlequins 21-17 London Irish

Saracens 39-12 Bath

Exeter Chiefs – Bye

Round 1 Results:

North

Northampton Saints 36-22 Leicester Tigers 

Worcester Warriors 13-40 Sale Sharks

Yorkshire Academy 0-36 Wasps

Newcastle Falcons – Bye

South

Bath 12-27 Bristol Bears

Exeter Chiefs 12-46 Saracens

London Irish 41-17 Gloucester

Harlequins – Bye

Future Fixtures:

Round 5

North

Newcastle Falcons v Worcester Warriors – Saturday 22nd Jan, 2pm, Kingston Park

Wasps v Northampton Saints – Saturday 22nd Jan, 2pm, Aylesbury RFC

Yorkshire Academy v Sale Sharks – Sunday 23rd Jan, 3pm, Keighly RUFC

Leicester Tigers – Bye

South

Exeter Chiefs v Gloucester – Saturday 22nd Jan, 2pm, Truro College

Harlequins v Bath – Saturday 22nd Jan, 2pm, Venue TBC

London Irish v Bristol Bears – Saturday 22nd Jan, 1pm, Hazelwood

Saracens – Bye

Round 6

North

Newcastle Falcons v Yorkshire Academy – Saturday 5th Feb, 2pm, Kingston Park

Sale Sharks v Wasps – Sunday 6th Feb, time TBC, Manchester Met Uni

Worcester Warriors v Leicester Tigers, Saturday 5th Feb, 2pm, Sixways

Northampton Saints – Bye

South

Harlequins v Bristol Bears – Saturday 5th Feb, 2pm, Cobham RFC

Gloucester v Saracens – Saturday 5th Feb, 2pm, Cheltenham Tigers

London Irish v Exeter Chiefs – Saturday 5th Feb, 1.30pm, Hazelwood

Bath – Bye

Round 7

North

Leicester Tigers v Wasps – Saturday 12th Feb 5pm, Welford Road

Northampton Saints v Newcastle Falcons – Saturday 12th Feb, 2pm, Franklin’s Gardens

Yorkshire Academy v Worcester Warriors – Saturday 12th Feb, 2pm, Doncaster Knights

Sale Sharks – Bye

South

Bristol Bears v Exeter Chiefs – Saturday 12th Feb, Dings Crusaders

Gloucester v Bath – Saturday 12th Feb, 2pm, Kingsholm

Saracens v Harlequins – Saturday 12th Feb, 1pm, StoneX

London Irish – Bye

Finals Day: Saturday/Sunday 19th/20th February – Venue TBC (7 games)

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