London Irish Academy

Information on the London Irish Academy programme.

The London Irish Academy, RFU licensed since 2001, is the cornerstone of our development programme and success at London Irish.

The role of the London Irish Academy is to identify and develop talented young athletes from age 13 to 23 and engage them in a High Performance development programme. Players join the academy through a variety of routes and are assisted in their rugby development to attain their ultimate goal - joining the first team squad. This is underpinned by Education from a variety of partners, thus providing the necessary structure for each player to reach their full potential.

We provide our young players with an environment in which they can grow, express themselves both personally and professionally and realize their dream of becoming professional rugby players. With graduates such as Topsy Ojo, Alex Corbisiero, Nick kennedy, Tom Homer and Guy Armitage our record is second to none.

Academy Vision:
•To identify, recruit ad develop, from all sources, the most talented young players and bring them through the Academy into the 1st XV squad.
•To adopt a comprehensive recruitment policy in Berkshire, Hampshire and the Sunbury area.
•To provide top class coaching by qualified staff to give each Academy player the best opportunity to succeed.
•To provide the most appropriate individual player development, mentoring and support programs.
•To provide the most appropriate competitive program for each player and to constantly review performance in training and matches.
•To provide the best possible facilities for our players to succeed.
•To provide the opportunity for Academy players to continue in Further or higher Education.
•To build good working relationships with schools, Clubs, Colleges and Universities.
•To teach responsibility, discipline and respect for themselves and the game.
•To set high standards for integrity, honesty and performance.

The AASE scheme – Achieving Academic and Sporting Excellence - is targeted at talented Year 12 and Year 13 students who have the realistic potential to play at the elite end of the game. It is a three-tiered framework supporting the boys in both their rugby and academic development. The boys follow a technical certificate at our academic partner St Paul’s which largely consists of A level and BTEC qualifications in their chosen subjects and then work towards an NVQ Level 3 in Sporting Excellence at London Irish which is the equivalent value of 2 A levels in UCAS points.

The AASE program consequently gives them the opportunity to combine rugby training on a daily basis at London Irish with academic study in the sixth form at our education partner St Paul’s Catholic College in Sunbury Middlesex.

St Paul’s Catholic College has an excellent academic track record and will provide options ranging from BTEC to A levels to suit all academic abilities. It was praised in its last OFSTED report for its ‘excellent leadership’ and was described as the ‘fastest improving school in the area’. Indeed this year over 95% of students intent on university have achieved their first choice university.

The rugby component of the combined development process will be delivered on site at the London Irish training ground. All apprentices receive a skills development program that is worked out to their individual needs and will also include a competition program which will consist of RFU AASE league games, academy games, junior club games and representative games where appropriate. All apprentices will receive coaching from the AASE Manager Giselle Mather, the clubs academy staff, Pete Richards and Dec Danaher, as well as weekly sessions with first team coaches Glenn Delaney and Richard Whiffin.
The apprentices also follow a personalized strength and conditioning program and have a full time physio available to them

The scheme is a fantastic opportunity for young talented rugby players to really develop their potential in a premiership environment alongside like-minded players whilst continuing their academic education.

If you wish to apply, or want any further information on the AASE programme please contact the AASE manager with an Academic and Rugby CV by emailing


How does a player enter the Academy process?

Players are primarily selected from the both the Hampshirea and Berkshire Developing Player Programmes and each counties age group representative squads. Players can also be nominated by their schools, clubs, county coaches or scouted by Academy staff.

What is the London Irish Rugby England Rugby Academy and what does it do?

The objective of the Academy is to provide a coaching, strength and conditioning as well as education programme to improve the performance of identified potential elite rugby players to their optimum. The goal for each Academy player is to become a professional rugby player.

Ultimately, the Academy looks to develop players to premiership and international playing standards and therefore become professional rugby players. Many will not make the top level but could still follow a career in rugby at club level or simply continue to play the game for their enjoyment.

What happens if an Academy player doesn't make the grade?

It is important for players and parents to know that at present there are only 500 full time players within the English system, many of these from overseas. There are currently some 150 Regional Academy players already in the system therefore the fall out rate will be high. With this in mind the London Irish Academy places huge emphasis on a players education as they progress through the academy structure.

Players released from the London Irish Academy are encouraged to continue their rugby development with their school and local club, and where appropriate are supported to find an semi professional club to continue their development.

Are the Academy players contracted?

London Irish Academy offers contracts to the best players in the system at the age of 18. These are the players we believe will go on and play for the London Irish first team.

Players between the age of 13 and 18 are not contracted but are asked to sign a Elite Player Development Group agreement confirming their engagement with the Academy programme.

What can the Academy offer?

Players selected into the London Irish Silver Group (U15/U16) can expect to receive specialist coaching on a weekly basis from our highly qualified team and supported by senior squad players. Players at this age will also receive weekly strength and conditioning sessions, nutritional advice, psychological support plus a structured playing programme.

Player selected into the London Irish Gold Group (U17/U18) will receive a individual development plan that is geared primarily to ensuring that his capabilities as a rugby player are maximised.

The player will be supported and mentored by academy coaches, senior squad players, specialist coaches, sports scientists and other specialists appointed by the Academy Manager. All areas of physical, technical, tactical and psychological development will be supported as well as game understanding, video analysis and a competitive playing programme appropriate to the player's development.

How can I qualify for selection to the London Irish Rugby Academy?

Players are selected from the both the Hampshire and Berkshire Developing Player programmes and each counties age group representative squads. Players are also nominated by their schools, clubs, county coaches or scouted by academy staff.

Those selected must demonstrate the potential to become a professional rugby player and the mental toughness/desire to "be the best". Academy athletes will be expected to put "rugby first" whilst maintaining dedication to their academic commitments and adopt a lifestyle that will enable them to develop into a professional athlete.

Will I still go to school/college?

Yes. It is vital that you pursue your education as well as your development as a rugby player.

The numbers of players who make a living from the sport is very small, so it essential that all Academy players strive to achieve academically as well as on the Rugby field.

The best rugby players are those who can apply themselves across a number of disciplines therefore as part of a players Individual development plan Education/vocation targets will be set and must be met by all academy members.

Who will I play for?

The competitive programme for each player in the Academy will be personally planned. The Academy Manager working closely with the relevant school, club, county and England coaching staff will advise on a programme of matches geared to maximise his individual rugby development. Academy players will only be required to play for teams/squads that provide levels of competitive exposure appropriate for this development.

Players will play no more than 32 games per season that will include:

•Club first XV games
•Club "A" Games
•Age group matches
•Representative matches for England or regional representative sides
•Competitive matches for other local clubs, universities or schools
If selected into the academy

Will I automatically become a professional rugby player and play for England?

No. There are no guarantees. If we believe you have the potential to play elite level rugby we will do everything we can to support you in making that happen. However, ultimate whether or not you succeed will be down to your ambition, work ethic and your rate of development.

Please contact Billy Clark for more details by email for any questions.


London Irish

Next Home Game
Saturday 06 Sep 2014
KO: 16:30

  • Match Day
  • Events
  • A League
  • Community

© 2014 London Irish

The Avenue
Sunbury on Thames
Middlesex, TW16 5EQ
Telephone: 01932 750 100
Email us |
Bookmark this page

Digital Ink Internet Ltd, London Irish Web Site and CRM Partner

Website design,
hosting, CRM
and email marketing
Digital Ink Internet Ltd