Joe Vajner lined up for Esher over the past weekend, with a number of eligible England under-20s also in action in Burton-upon-Trent.
Third year Academy hooker Vajner participated in National League 1 side Esher’s league outing against nearby Rosslyn Park.
Whilst balancing England under-20s duties last term, Vajner also contributed Esher’s promotion campaign from National League 2 South in the 2021/22 season.
Esher were defeated 27-32 at Molesey Road to Park, who overtook their hosts on the day with two late place kicks from Craig Holland in a closely fought win over their local rivals.
The match saw Vajner participate in his first game of the season, completing the full 80 minutes in what was the second successive defeat for the newly introduced side to tier three rugby.
Esher take on Birmingham Moseley in the Midlands this Friday evening (16th), with Vajner aiming to continue his place as one of 10 Academy players loaned out to Clubs in the National League 1.
10 London Irish Academy players took part in an internal England under-20s match between sides divided into north and southern Academy teams, finishing 48-38 in favour of the northern team at St. George’s Park, Burton-on-Trent.
Players from all Premiership Academies were invited to take part in the exhibition match as Alan Dickens and his team look to recruit a fresh cohort as the new season begins.
Afolabi Fasogbon played forty minutes as a tighthead prop, with fellow 2022 Senior Academy inductee Oran Murphy taking up the loosehead prop role for 40 minutes.
Back-row forwards Oliver Stirling and Louie Kirkham were awarded 40 minutes of gametime, Ollie Allan also playing at scrum-half and completing the game despite picking up a minor shoulder injury.
He was partnered at 10 by Monty Bradbury, who played out 75 minutes, Connor Cross alongside the stand-off at 12 and Jack Walsh on the wing, who each played a half of rugby too.
Year two Academy forwards Calum Scott and Chandler Cunningham-South, who also played forty minutes each at hooker and number eight respectively, also joined the younger contingent in getting a run-out at St. George’s Park.
Academy involvement in the senior side has been substantial in recent weeks, three Senior Academy players (Tarek Haffar, Michael Dykes and Joe Vajner) featuring in a matchday squad against Jersey Reds and 13 playing in a friendly fixture against Bath United in preparation for the season.
Recent Senior Academy graduates Henry Arundell and Will Joseph each scored in the Gallagher Premiership opener against Worcester Warriors, the former bagging a brace after the return of the pair from summer Test rugby against Australia.
Academy Manager Patrick O’Grady presented to the London Irish Supporters’ Club last week as the Academy received kind donations that contributed to GPS units used by the under-18s players.
The evening also involved a ‘Questions and Answers’ section with under-18s players as O’Grady presented the supports with an insight into the day-to-day running of the Academy, offering an outlook into how the Club are help build the stars of the future.
“These last few weeks have been a fantastic start to the 2022/23 campaign for us here in the London Irish Academy, not to mention our derby day double against Harlequins at Hazelwood,” O’Grady commented.
“I’d like to congratulate Joe and his efforts with Esher over the past week, he will be one of many of our Academy boys that will get some valuable game time over the course of the next nine months or so, and I would like to thank all the host Club’s for welcoming our lads.
“Our representation amongst the England age-grades last year was a proud moment for all the hard work put in by our team here, and I am confident that will continue for this forthcoming season.”