Watch next generation in Under Pressure challenges at Wasps v Leinster

Date: 15 Jan 2019


Some of Wasps’ future rugby stars are set to get their first taste of performing in a first-team match-day atmosphere this weekend. 

That’s because academy players from Wasps and Yorkshire Carnegie will be in the spotlight during the interval of Wasps’ Heineken Champions Cup clash with Leinster Rugby at Ricoh Arena on Sunday 20 January (kick-off 3.15pm).

The players, aged between 17 and 21, will go head-to-head in a range of ‘Under Pressure’ challenges designed to test their nerve in front of the masses at Ricoh Arena.

Players will head out onto the same pitch used by the likes of Joe Launchbury and Johnny Sexton at half-time for a goal-kicking time trial, in which players will attempt to be the fastest to score from six spots on the 22-metre line, with a five second penalty for each missed attempt.

Hookers will be put under the microscope, as players compete in a six-stage lineout race towards the halfway line – while wingers will have their catching skills and agility tested in a high-ball receiving and obstacle course challenge.

The challenges also include a tug of war and a timed Land Rover push in front of supporters before the game in the Wasps Fan Village at 1pm.

Jonathan Pendlebury, Wasps Academy Manager, spoke of the importance of familiarising young players with professional match-day environments.

He said: “It’s vital that our youngsters have the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zones and soak up the atmosphere of a high-profile fixture whilst putting their skills to the test.

“We are rewarding our players for their hard work and progress over the last few weeks by helping to prepare for the next big step in their careers.

“It will be an extremely useful experience for the players who have never stepped out in front of a sizeable crowd before, and competing against another academy will provide an extra level of pressure for them to deal with.

“We have also set the players up with a sports psychologist after the game, which will give them the chance to reflect on their performance to ensure they get the most out of the day.

“There will be winners and losers, and both sets of players will be representing their clubs, so it is a great chance to see how they cope under pressure.”

Ben Lazenby, Yorkshire Carnegie Academy Manager, added: “The challenges will support the players in the step up to the professional level by helping them get over their nerves and learn coping mechanisms for big-game environments.

“It’s a fantastic stepping stone for the players to develop and deal with the pressures of match days without the added importance of a competitive result.

“The players’ families will also be coming along, which will give the parents a rare insight into the pressures that the players face on a weekly basis, and how they can help young players flourish.

“This is an idea that Jon and I have discussed for some time now. Hopefully this can be the start of a long-term programme to put our players in the best possible position when they make the transition into professional rugby.”

Tickets to Wasps versus Leinster start from £19 for adults, with Under 10s going free in certain areas.