From international call-ups to players out on loan, the London Irish Academy has had a positive number of weeks.
A spike in Irish players called into represent their loan Clubs has been owed to the younger members of the team being relieved of their Premiership Rugby Cup duties for the next fortnight.
The cup tournament has afforded a large portion of the Senior Academy not only their senior debuts, but valuable pitch time in already momentous wins in the Exiles’ campaign.
Player appearances have not been capped at the Premiership Rugby Cup, with two current Senior Academy personnel being included in the last three Gallagher Premiership rounds.
Here’s how the Academy is shaping up after the first month of the season.
National League game time
Jarlath Gleeson (second-row), Louis Kirkham (back-row), George Makepeace-Cubitt (centre), Oran Murphy (prop) and Calum Scott (hooker) played for Barnes’ second team against Blackheath’s second team this past weekend.
Makepeace-Cubitt, Murphy and Scott earned 40 minutes for the side, whilst forwards Gleeson and Kirkham played out 60 and 80 minutes respectively.
Ollie Allan (scrum-half) and Lucas Brooke (back-row) lined out for Rams’ first and second team sides over the weekend, earning 20 and 50 respective minutes for the Reading-based outfits.
Henley utilised the services of Oliver Stirling (back-row) and Connor Cross (centre), each being involved from the first whistle to the last.
Afolabi Fasogbon (prop) and Jack Walsh (centre) played with Esher’s second team in a win over Worthing’s second side, both seeing out the full 80.
Premiership Rugby Cup- making an impact!
Over half of the matchday squad in each of London Irish’s first two Premiership Rugby Cup ties against Harlequins and Northampton Saints were products of the London Irish Academy system.
In Irish’s competition opener against rivals Harlequins, the Exiles lined-up with nine current Senior Academy players in the matchday 23, with five further Academy graduates and 12 overall debutants in the matchday squad.
14 players, or 60.9% of squad, were Academy players, past or present.
Academy wing duo Alexander Harmes and Michael Dykes contributed a try each to Irish’s total of four touchdowns on the day, Hugh O’Sullivan also scoring and hooker Patrick Harrison dotting down in his first appearance.
The Exiles followed up a famous win with perhaps another one to add to the history books, six Senior Academy players playing their part in squad that defeated Saints.
Seven Academy graduates were amongst the team and one Academy player made his first appearance for London Irish, scrum-half Ollie Allan, with a further 56.6% of matchday squad coming through the London Irish Academy.
All 28 of Irish’s points were notched in the second period, coming back from 19-0 down at the break with tries from Hallam Chapman (2) and Logan Trotter on their respective second run-outs for Irish, before the all-important final penalty try.
London Irish now sit atop of Pool 3 of the Premiership Rugby Cup after the first block of fixtures, being one of only two teams achieving maximum points available from the opening two games thus far (TBC).
Gallagher Premiership- stats and debuts
Two Senior Academy players have achieved minutes in the Gallagher Premiership since the season’s start in September.
Chandler Cunningham-South has appeared in London Irish’s last three Gallagher Premiership games against Northampton Saints, Bristol Bears and Bath Rugby.
The back-row forward made three tackles in 11 minutes in Northampton and 16 tackles (joint-third most for Irish) and one turnover won against Bristol.
Joe Vajner has had a whirlwind few weeks, achieving an appearance with Esher whilst also going on to make his London Irish debuts in both the Gallagher Premiership and Premiership Rugby Cup.
Vajner played out the final five minutes of action at Ashton Gate as the Exiles recouped two bonus points, going on to play the last 40 minutes of Irish’s comeback win over Northampton Saints and then a late appearance against Bath.
Academy products in England training squad inclusion
Taking place from Sunday (2nd) to Tuesday (4th), Henry Arundell, Will Joseph and Tom Pearson participated in an England training camp after being selected by Eddie Jones last week.
The recent Senior Academy graduates, each of whom were integrated into Jones' training squads last season, spent the first portion of their bye week under Jones' tutorship and have begun their 2022/23 campaigns in style.
Off the back of their England debuts in Australia over the summer, Irish's international backs have continued their fine form with Arundell scoring three tries in four appearances and Joseph two in four.
Pearson also has made his mark in the Gallagher Premiership, and ranking in the top three tacklers in each of Irish’s league games whilst also being in the top 10 tacklers in the division overall.
England's first camp of the season is in preparation for bumper schedule of autumn internationals at Twickenham next month, beginning with a test against Argentina (6th), before matches against Japan (12th), New Zealand (19th) and Rassie Erasmus' South Africa (26th).
Under-18s invited to England training camp
Five London Irish Under-18 Academy players were asked to take part in the England under-18 training squad over the weekend.
Ralph McEachran (prop), Sam Rockley (wing), Rory Taylor (fly-half), Kepu Tuipulotu (back-row) and Cameron Ellis (centre), all took part in the camp organised for Jonathan Pendlebury’s team.
Rory Taylor played his part in the England under-18 tour to South Africa, kicking the winning penalty in a victory over the South African under-18 A-side.
London Irish Academy Manager Patrick O’Grady gave a positive approval of his players, staff and their development in the 2022/23 season thus far.
“This past weekend has seen a massive increase in Academy participation in their respective loan Clubs, after a busy period of involvement in the Premiership Rugby Cup,” O’Grady stated.
“Senior Academy players have attained a lot of minutes in the latest round of National League fixtures and we will hope to further nurture their ever-growing talents with more game time in the coming weeks and months.
“I couldn’t be happier for the everyone involved, after watching the Premiership Rugby Cup games, those two wins were not only deserved but indicative of the belief that runs through this Club.
“As the season is up-and-running, our international representation continues to grow after a busy summer for the senior squad and Academy alike.
“Henry, Will and Tom’s call-up to train with Eddie Jones’ team is a fantastic endorsement of the talent we have coming through here and their capabilities on the international stage, with our under-18s also being recognised.
“I’d like to congratulate all the player, coaches and staff that have enabled us to show our strong positioning as an Academy in these recent months, and I am of the belief that things will only improve further.”