London Irish are delighted to be launching a new AASE bursary scheme to help boys from lower income families take part in the AASE programme. The scheme is to be named the Jarrod Cunningham Award after former London Irish player Jarrod Cunningham who died from motor neurone disease.

The AASE (Achieving Academic and Sporting Excellence) scheme is targeted at talented Year 12 and Year 13 students who have the aspirations and potential to play at the elite end of the game. The scheme is a three-tiered framework supporting the boys in both their rugby and academic development, giving them the opportunity to combine daily rugby training at London Irish with academic study in sixth form at our education partner St Paul's Catholic College in Sunbury.

Whilst the education and rugby involved in the AASE programme are free, the players still incur costs through travel, kit and even accommodation if they live too far to travel daily. Unfortunately, this means some boys miss out on the opportunities that the programme provides.

80% of AASE graduates from the previous two years have either been awarded professional rugby contracts at London Irish or other clubs, or have gone on to study at university. Current London Irish first team and senior academy players who came through the AASE programme include Tom Fowlie, Jacob Atkins, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Austin Hay, Ben Atkins, Jack Cooke, Rueben Knight, Brandon Baker and Caelan Englefied.

"We set up the bursary to try and give children an opportunity they would not usually have" said Richard Pryor, AASE manager.

"As a former teacher, I will always look at the child’s potential and I am hopeful that this bursary will provide them with an opportunity to develop their rugby skills whilst getting an excellent education”.

London Irish are looking for any donations, big or small, to help fund the Jarrod Cunningham Award and to help make a positive impact in the lives of those who might need it.

If you would like to help in any way, please email [email protected]

For more information on the Jarrod Cunningham Award or to read examples of how your donations can make a difference, please click here.

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