London Irish’s AASE Scheme is going from strength to strength under the stewardship of AASE head coach Richard Pryor.

The AASE scheme stands for Achieving Academic and Sporting Excellence and is targeted at talented year 12 and year 13 students who have the aspiration and potential to play at the elite end of the game.

The scheme is a two-tiered framework, supporting players in both their rugby and academic development. It gives them the opportunity to combine rugby training on a daily basis at London Irish with academic study in sixth form at Irish’s education partner St Paul's Catholic College, which is based near to the club’s Hazelwood training base in Sunbury.

Senior squad members Johnny Williams and Tom Fowlie are AASE graduates along with senior academy squad members Jacob Atkins, Jack Cooke, Ollie Hassell-Collins and Austin Hay.

All apprentices receive a skills development programme that is worked out to their individual needs and also includes a competition programme, which will consist of RFU AASE league games, academy games, junior club games and representative games where appropriate. 

In addition, apprentices also receive a personalised strength and conditioning programme and have access to a full-time physio.

St Paul’s currently sit third in the AASE South Group having won three out of their five games this term.

“We have performed pretty well so far this season and I’m pleased with the progress of the team,” said Pryor.

“We’re in a great position going into the second half of the season and there is a lot of promise within the group of players.

“We’ve got some really good kids coming through the programme and we’ve been fortunate enough to have a few of the lads represent their country at age group level.

“Phil Cokanasiga, younger brother of Joe, has been called up by England Under-17s and he’s a player with a lot of ability.”

In the build-up to last weekend’s European encounter with Edinburgh Rugby, eight of the AASE squad spent a day training alongside the first team squad.

“To have the chance to train with the senior guys is fantastic and will undoubtedly benefit their game in the long run,” said Pryor.

“A huge thanks must go to Nick Kennedy and his management team for allowing them to train with them this week.” 


11 October: St Paul’s Catholic College 29-33 Hartpury College

27 September: Exeter College 36-5 St Paul’s Catholic College

20 September: St Paul’s Catholic College 32-22 Beechen Cliff School

13 September: SGS Filton College 14-21 St Paul’s Catholic College

6 September: St Paul’s Catholic College 26-17 Truro and Penwith College 

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

If you wish to apply, or want any further information on the AASE scheme please contact AASE head coach Richard Pryor with your academic and rugby CV by emailing [email protected]

For more information on St Paul's Catholic College, please visit

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