London Irish U18s take on Leicester Tigers in the final of the Premiership Rugby Under-18 League on Sunday 16 February at Sixways Stadium (kick-off 4pm).
The Academy coaching trio of Patrick O’Grady, Jonathan Fisher and James Lightfoot Brown have all played a big part in the side reaching this weekend’s final, along with the determined effort from the players.
“Preparations have been going well. It’s been nice that we’ve had three weeks since our last game. It has given the boys a chance to recover after their school season and the six Academy fixtures” explained Patrick O’Grady, academy manager.
“We have been getting stuck into the training sessions for the past two weeks, with our final session this evening. I feel the boys are as well prepared as possible for the final!”
The final is the culmination of a long season, which has seen the squad put many hours into tough sessions on the training pitch, something that that hasn’t gone unnoticed among the coaching setup.
“They’ve worked very hard for a long, long time. Some of the lads have been in the programme a while and have been coached by these guys (Patrick O’Grady and James Lightfoot Brown) since the age of 13/14” said Jonathan Fisher, academy forward’s coach.
“I think for the Upper Sixth group, it’s a big reward for the hard work that they have put in every Monday and Wednesday evening session and throughout their school, club and Academy fixtures over the last four or five years.”
Getting the chance to experience a final doesn’t come along too often in rugby, and James Lightfoot Brown, academy back’s coach, hopes that the squad harness the opportunity to take the uniqueness of the situation on board.
“I think that this is a huge opportunity for these lads. You obviously want to win the final, but its way bigger than that for these U18s. They have been in the programme a long time now and this is a good opportunity for them to be in a pressured environment and to take the leanings from it going forward.”
Good luck to the U18 squad and coaches for this weekend!