With the use of four Senior Academy Exiles, Alan Dickens’ England under-20s won consecutive exhibition warm-ups this weekend with a 52-21 win over Loughborough University.
Opening their 2023 with a comfortable 54-31 win against Oxford University’s side, the age-grade team continued their form in preparation for the Under-20 Six Nations opener against Scotland under-20s (Friday 3rdFebruary).
All of Afolabi Fasogbon (prop), Calum Scott (hooker) and Monty Bradbury (fly-half) started the match in Leicestershire, Fasogbon partnering up alongside Scott in the pack each with strong contests at the set-piece.
In just 40 minutes of action, Scott bagged a brace of tries in the first half from catch-and-drive mauls with Bradbury’s impact also felt in the opening half from out-half.
The 10 would return to the field for the final quarter and link up with fellow replacement and Clubmate Jack Walsh, setting up the wing for his second score in as many weeks on a fine afternoon for Dickens and co.
All of Irish’s involved players have returned to the Club this week and are awaiting to see if they will be invited into camp on Sunday evening in preparation for first Six Nations game at the Twickenham Stoop against Scotland.
England under-20s side vs Loughborough University
15 Sam Harris (Bath Rugby), 14 Tobias Elliott (Saracens), 13 Rekeiti Ma'asi-White (Sale Sharks), 12 Joseph Woodward (Leicester Tigers), 11 Cassius Cleaves (Harlequins), 10 Monty Bradbury (London Irish), 9 Charlie Bracken (Saracens); 1 Archie McArthur (Gloucester), 2 Calum Scott (London Irish), 3 Afolabi Fasogbon (London Irish), 4 Danny Eite (Gloucester), 5 Lewis Chessum (C) (Leicester Tigers), 6 Finn Carnduff (Leicester Tigers), 7 Tristan Woodman (Sale Sharks), 8 Rob Nixon (Gloucester).
Finn Theobald-Thomas, Nathan Jibulu, Asher Opoku-Fordjour, George Patten, Tim Hoyt, James Halliwell, Harry Browne, Robert Carmichael, Josh Manz, Zach Carr, Nye Thomas, Jack Walsh, Louie Johnson, Benjamin Waghorn, Will Gilderson and Connor Slevin
With another week of reduced games in the National League owed to poor conditions, Joe Vajner playing out the first 70 minutes of action at the Richmond Athletic Ground for Richmond against Doncaster Knights.
Despite the 27-17 final score in favour of the South Yorkshire outfit, Vajner put in another solid shift in south-west London for another positive performance on both sides of the ball, proving himself consistently in a Championship-level capacity.
In National League 1, Ben Atkins helped Esher to back-to-back wins with a 34-24 home triumph over Plymouth Albion, the loose forward starting the game at number eight.
Plymouth’s strong start was counteracted by an Atkins try, fielding a restart from a try from the away side to then fend off an opposing defender to touch down as the Surrey Club rose to eighth in the table.
Premiership Rugby Under-18 Academy League
London Irish under-18s assumed their place at the top of the Southern Conference of the Premiership Rugby Under-18 Academy League with a well-contested win over Bristol Bears under-18s, finishing 17-12 at Dings Crusaders RFC.
Testing foggy weather couldn’t stop the Exiles in Round 5 of league action to secure their fourth win of the campaign, but it was the hosts who opened proceedings with a converted Oscar Sims try three minutes in.
The young Exiles would bite back through not one, but two tries from talented winger Theo Williamson, out-half Louie Heard converting the former’s second effort to extend Irish’s lead to five.
Bristol hooker Sims would bite back for the game’s second brace before the break, and with the effort being unconverted, scores were level heading into half-time.
The Exiles’s own form hooker, Kepu Tuipulotu, would once again be a decisive factor in Irish’s results with a score 15 minutes from time to win the road game.
The result confirmed Irish’s place at Finals Day, the seeding of which will be determined at a later stage with the league taking a break this upcoming week, before Irish complete their regular season with an away trip to Exeter chiefs under-18s (Saturday 4th February, Truro College, 12.30pm ko).
London Irish under-18s side vs Bristol Bears under-18s
15 Ben Frampton, 14 Theo Williamson, 13 George Staveley, 12 Charlie Griffin, 11 Sam Rockley, 10 Louie Heard, 9 Connor Peters; 1 Ralph McEachran, 2 Kepu Tuipulotu, 3 Ralph Hawker, 4 Louis Brickley, 5 Mario Ikumola-Andre, 6 Tayo Adegbemile, 7 Finn Worley-Brady, 8 Jack Lee.
16 George Goodridge, 17 Philip Truscott, 18 Ciaran Brickley, 19 Sam Lee, 20 Edward Bachelor, 21 Noah Cowan, 22 Finlay Wiseman, 23 Jonny Sharp.
Despite Irish’s European adventure drawing to a close in the south of France, Senior Academy players Chandler Cunningham-South and Michael Dykes played their part in a 21-all tie against Montpellier Hérault.
Cunningham-South made 39 metres from nine carries, 16 tackles and two passes, whilst Dykes, on his first European start, registered five tackles, one offload and 55 metres from six carries.
Five Academy graduates; Josh Basham, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Chunya Munga, Ben Donnell and Caolan Englefield, all contributed to the final result against the Top 14 champions.