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Academy U18 League set for KO

London Wasps Academy Manager Rob Smith runs us through the new Academy U18 League, which kicks off on December 22.

"This season the RFU/PRL have introduced a new age group competition to support the player development pathway, the Academy U18 League.

In line with the principles of player development – that is Player Centred, Performance Driven and Competition Supported development – this new League fits alongside the AASE League, combining the best from the AASE Academy based at Henley College with the best from the Academy School based players.

DateFixtureVenueKick Off
December 22ndLondon IrishAway (Sunbury)2pm
January 12thBathHome (Twyford Avenue)1.30pm
January 19thSaracensHome (Twyford Avenue)1.30pm
February 2ndBristolAway (Cleve RFC)2pm
February 9thHarlequinsAway (Richmond College)1.30pm
February 16thExeterAway (Sandy Park)2.30pm

Many schools do not play rugby after the Christmas term and so this provides these school-based players with a good opportunity to continue their rugby development early into the Spring term.

Schools rugby masters have been contacted to secure release of players and equally the Henley College AASE programme has been adjusted to fit with this new League, with AASE fixtures arranged outside the Academy League dates.

Due to the different programmes these players follow, the Henley College based players’ performance levels are known more accurately then the school based players, as the AASE players are closely monitored with daily Academy staff contact through their work programmes geared to the individual player development. To have an opportunity to combine the two development pathways for a period of 6 matches against the other Academies should prove to be very valuable.
Further to this with our AASE and School based Academy players based far and wide from east Middlesex to west Oxfordshire, having a period where we can work with the whole group over an extended period will be of great value.

Many of the other Academies geographically are more centrally based, however within Middlesex, Bucks and Oxon we have very strong rugby schools and clubs supported by excellent county structures. These forthcoming matches are set for Saturday afternoon kick offs, perfect preparation as a taster for the big Premiership or European matches over the weekend.

Hopefully this new Academy League will be a big success and of great value in the short and longer term. Certainly from my experience the London Wasps Academy are heading for a bumper period over the next few years with outstanding talent coming through from the U17’s, U16’s, u15’s and U14’s but equally I can assure our supporters London Wasps Academy League U18’s squad will be very strong and very competitive."

All the best.
Rob Smith