London Irish has today announced the opening of a new Developing Player Programme centre in Middlesex as the first part of significant new investment in the club’s Academy.

London Irish has an enviable track record in bringing through outstanding young players who have gone on represent club and country at the highest level.

In recent years this tradition has been continued, with Tom Parton, Rory Brand, Matt Williams, Ben Loader and Josh Basham all representing England Under-20 during the 2018 Six Nations and World Rugby Under-20 Championships.

London Irish President Mick Crossan says that having a successful Academy has to be an essential part of the club’s operations.

“I’m sure that all London Irish supporters are proud of the players that our Academy has produced in the past, and the part we played in their successes,” he said. “However, over the next few years we don’t just want to be producing more and better young players, we want them to stay at London Irish and to help us win trophies.

“This new investment shows that we’re fully committed for the long-term and making London Irish the best club in the country at all levels.”

“Every team that has long-term success is built around its home-grown players,” said director of rugby Declan Kidney. “Our ambition is for this to happen at London Irish, and this is why the new Academy investment is important.

“Young players who come through our system will know what it means to play for the club and what the club means to its supporters and community, and because they grow up together as London Irish players they have a special bond and commitment to the group.”

Stephen Atkinson, Chairman and Director of Rugby of Team Middlesex, welcomes the opening of the new Developing Player Programme centre.

“We’re delighted that London Irish is extending the club’s commitment to developing young players in Middlesex,” he commented. “We’ve got a large number of outstanding young prospects at clubs and schools and this new Developing Player Programme centre will give them the opportunity to show their talent and perhaps start their journey to becoming a professional player.”

London Irish Chief Executive Brian Facer says that this new investment reflects London Irish’s commitment to future success and is an integral part of the club’s strategic plan.

The key components of this plan include:

-      An increase of the number of Developing Player Programme (DPP) centres from four to nine
-      A doubling of the number of young players within the London Irish Academy system from 450 to 500
-      A new DPP for Under-16 players
-      Recruitment of new staff to support the expanded Academy programme

Two more Developing Player Programme centres are planned for the 2019/20 season, with details to be announced in due course.

“Having a strong Academy system is crucial if we are to achieve our ambitions for realistic and sustained success in the future,” he commented. “All the best teams in any sport all have a core of home-grown players at the heart of their squads, and with this increased investment we will be increasing the number of youngsters who will have their opportunity to show their talents and progress to being a full-time player.

“Declan Kidney is a big believer in bringing through young players, which will give the youngsters in the system something realistic to aim for. Then by staying here and developing here they will want to win trophies here, too.”

You can support our Academy by upgrading your Season Ticket to a Patron Membership. Introduced this season, the membership fee will be invested directly into the Academy , including new Developing Player Programme centres and off-field support for the next generation.

As a thank you, we will invite Patrons to spend a day with the Academy to get to know our Academy players and each month one Patron will be chosen at random to win a prize including tickets for an England international home game at Twickenham with pre and post-match hospitality, your chosen player's jersey straight from their back at a home game, a full refund on your Season Ticket and lunch at Hazelwood with a player of your choice.

We'll send you updates on the academy throughout the season and you'll be the first to hear about the latest news. You will also receive a Patron card and a special Patron gift at the start of the season, as well as exclusive post-match insight into the games following matches.

To upgrade to a Patron Membership please call the Ticket Office on 0118 968 1016 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm, Saturday 9am to 12pm).

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