14 February 2023
The Academy has continued to make a significant impact on all levels of London Irish as the halfway point of the 2022/23 season is surpassed.
From debuts in the Gallagher Premiership and England team, reaching the finals of the Premiership Rugby Cup and Academy League, down to the Developing Player Programme (DPP) formulating plans for further inter DPP games this week at Hazelwood.
Here is the latest update of all goings-on in the junior side of the Club as the Academy brand continues to grow.
Ampthill returned a try bonus point win from a trip to Richmond, taking a 26-19 win at the Richmond Athletic Ground with the services of Exiles Luke Green (prop) and Isaac Curtis-Harris (back-row).
Green dotted down for one of four tries for Paul Turner’s men, Curtis-Harris making a 25-minute cameo off the replacements bench for his second appearance this season for the Club in the victory.
Mikey Summerfield started and completed three quarters for Hartpury University in another Championship Cup game, this time against Jersey Reds, with several involvements and carries in a 47-7 home loss at the Alpas Arena.
Oran Murphy played out his first minutes at Championship level for London Scottish, recording 25 minutes of pitch time and making several notable contributions at the set-piece and in the loose in a Championship Cup loss to Doncaster Knights.
Rams won comfortably as they hosted Chinnor in an entertaining 50-31 triumph in National League 1, Ollie Allan earning more minutes after a standout game last week against Darlington
Scrum-half Ollie Allan played 25 minutes at Old Bath Road as his side crossed the whitewash eight times, the 19-year-old dovetailing well with his squad members to close out the game with accurate passing and kicking once again.
Premiership Rugby Cup
London Irish progressed to the final of the Premiership Rugby Cup for a second consecutive season, with two Senior Academy players and eight graduates playing their part in a 30-18 win over Northampton Saints.
Current Academy roster member Michael Dykes started from the left wing, with Tarek Haffar earning his third Club appearance after a return from injury.
Academy products Ben Loader, Matt Williams, Jacob Atkins, Caolan Englefield, Chunya Munga, Jack Cooke, Josh Basham and Ben Donnell took to the Gtech field to elevate the Exiles to the final fixture.
Basham dotted down to begin a strong second-half showing in west London, driving over from a rolling maul in another famous evening in Brentford.
London Irish Academy Manager Patrick O’Grady praised the collective effort of the Academy set-up to help the side progress to another opportunity of silverware.
“Friday night also provided us with even more success, winning the semi-final of the Premiership Rugby Cup,” he said.
“This season’s cup team has been heavily influenced by current Academy players & recent Academy products, all playing an integral part to the success of that team.
“To see the likes of Afolabi Fasogbon, Calum Scott, Jack Walsh, Monty Bradbury, Ollie Allan, Mikey Summerfield making their senior debuts was fantastic and hugely rewarding for everyone involved.
“Two of our Academy coaches have led the Premiership Cup team incredibly well and the success of the team is a representation and accumulation of the work that has been prevalent over a number of years within the Academy, across all disciplines.
England under-20s beat Italy under-20s in the second round of the 2023 Under-20 Six Nations by 32 points to 25, four Senior Academy Exiles playing for Alan Dickens’ side.
Starting fly-half Monty Bradbury averaged six metres per carry and assisted Rekeiti Ma'asi-White for England’s second score, managing the joint-highest tackle count amongst England backs for a second week running (5).
Chandler Cunningham-South (number eight) scored for a second week running, with 11 tackles made as Clubmates Calum Scott (hooker) and Afolabi Fasogbon (prop) finished the game.
Fasogbon scored his first try at under-20 level with a great read from a tap penalty, winning a turnover and making 31 metres in possession with Scott notching three tackles.
Two Academy products, Henry Arundell and Ollie Hassell-Collins, represented England in a second round Guinness Six Nations Championship fixture at home to Italy.
After earning his first cap aged 19 in last summer’s tour of Australia, Arundell scored a try on his home debut at Twickenham Stadium as Steve Borthwick’s side beat the visitors 31-14.
He replaced Hassell-Collins, who made a try-saving tackle in his 54 minutes of action, with Arundell also registered two tackles and 12 metres from two carries.
Both have been recalled to train under Steve Borthwick and his coaches this week for a three-day camp at The Lensbury.
Premiership Rugby Under-18 Academy League
Whilst playing out a fallow week in the Premiership Rugby Under-18 Academy League, London Irish under-18s were confirmed as the first-placed side in the Southern Conference.
The young Exiles will contest the final of the 2022/23 tournament against Northampton Saints, the winners of the Northern Conference, at the StoneX Stadium this Sunday (19th), kicking-off at 7pm.
Challengers in the Southern Conference, Saracens under-18s, fell to a 36-17 reverse against London rivals Harlequins under-18s at Fairmile Lane, with Bristol Bears under-18s instead finishing second and a point behind the Exiles.
Jack Pattinson’s side will look to replicate the title-winning form of 2020 this weekend, who shared the title that year with Leicester Tigers.