Academy U18s off to a good start

The London Irish U18's rounded off pre-season training with a positive outing at Harrow School on Friday.

The squad who have been training hard throughout the summer under the watchful eye of Academy Manager Billy Clark and new Academy coaches Pete Richards and Dec Danaher hit the ground running with their first run out of the year.

The first of two 45 minute games against Saracens saw the young London Irish team off to a winning start. Despite some early errors and two saracens scores London Irish fought back to score three of the own through England U18 centre Harry Lightfoot-Brown, U17 fullback Tim Gittens and an impressive effort by the pack to drive over from 20 metres from the lineout.

England U17 fly half Theo Brophy-Clews added three further points following a penalty to make the final score London Irish 18 Saracens 10.

The second fixture of the day for Irish came in the form of a fresh and physical Harlequins side. Quins, playing their first game of the day, came out of the blocks the better of the two teams and quickly capitalised on some early Irish errors to pick up two scores.

At 10 - 0 down London Irish looked set to force their way back into the game. However a number of errors close to the Quins line cost them dear and ultimately they succumbed 20 - 0 to their west London rivals.

So with one win and one loss on the day there are plenty of positives for the young side to take from their outing, but also plenty to work on as they build up to their first Premiership U18 Academy League game on Friday 1st November against Saracens.

Commenting on the squads performance Academy Manager Billy Clark said :

"These pre-season tournaments are invaluable for all of the premiership Academies. They provide a great opportunity for the guys to put into practice what they've been working on during pre-season as well as have a really competitive hit out.

"We'll take huge positives from today. It's the first time this group of players has played together, and for all of our U17 guys it's their first taste of rugby played at this level of physicality and intensity, so the learning for those guys is huge.

"We've restructured the Academy over the summer, not only by bringing on board Pete Richards and Dec Danaher as coaches, but also through establishing a new unified approach to how we want to play and coach the game throughout all tiers off the programme. So the lads playing today have had to take on board a new way of playing, new terminology, systems and structures in a relatively short space of time.

"Lots of what we worked on over the summer went well today, but obviously we were disappointed with the loss to Harlequins and some of the errors we made as a team. But that is the point of these tournaments, to take both the positives and the work ons, collectively and individually and continue to develop."

The London Irish U18 Squad will compete in the Premiership Rugby U18 Academy League this season, the fixture dates are below (Kick Off times TBC):

Friday 1st November Saracens (Home)
Saturday 14th December Wasps (Away)
Saturday 21st December Harlequins (Home)
Saturday 4th January Bath (Home)
Saturday 18th January Bristol (Away)
Saturday 8th February Exeter (Away)
Monday 17th February FINALS - ALLIANZ PARK.

London Irish U18 Squad, Harrow School:
George Sewell
Ollie Adams
Scott Elliot
Theo Vukasinovic
Ollie Curry
Ryan Bifield
James McRae
Will Gibson Hunt
Callum Watson
Theo Brophy-Clews
Chiltern Holbert
John Williams
Harry Lightfoot-Brown
Reuben Norville
Tim Gittens
Jake Waterman
Stefan Younghusband
Tyler White
Charlie Stonehill
Luke Frost
Jerome Trail
Connor Murphy
Joe Gwyther
Ross Neal
Cameron Smith
Jack Bailey

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