Promising youngsters Ben Loader, Josh Basham and Jack Cooke are on international duty this weekend.
Loader and Basham, both 18, have been named in the England Under-18s starting line-up for Sunday’s game against Wales, while 19-year-old Cooke starts for Ireland Under-19s as they welcome Japan to Donnybrook tomorrow afternoon.
Wellington College will be bursting with pride as pupils Loader and Basham pull on the Red Rose, the duo playing at full-back and blindside flanker respectively. Loader, now into his second season with England Under-18s, has been an integral part of the Exiles’ Academy set-up and his explosive pace is a key feature of his game. Meanwhile, Basham skippered Irish’s Under-18s side in every minute of the 2015/16 Premiership Academy campaign and will be keen to make his mark this weekend with his destructive tackling.
Benefiting from exposure to first team rugby with Irish this term, Cooke’s development has earned him a call-up to Kieran Campbell’s Ireland Under-19s side. Cooke starts at blindside flanker for the men in green and has played a series of games on loan for National 2 South side London Irish Wild Geese. Educated at St Paul’s, London Irish’s AASE College, he joined the club after being part of last year’s successful Premiership Rugby U18s winning team.
Academy Manager Patrick O’Grady, who has overseen the progression of the trio, said: “The relentless hard work of the boys and many others is now coming to fruition and these honours reflect that.
“Everyone at London Irish wishes them well and we look forward to seeing them in action.
Sat 25 March U19 Ireland v Japan Donnybrook (kick-off 4.30pm)
Sun 26 March U18 Wales v England Ebbw Vale RFC (kick-off 3.45pm)
The match is being shown live on S4C which is available via Sky channel 134 or online via this link: http://www.s4c.cymru/clic/e_index.shtml