By Margin_Walker
Cracking performance this season by the U18s who've finished top of the southern conference and booked an appearance in the final on 16th Feb. Great achievement, especially for the AASE lads who've followed up their success in that competition.

They'll be hoping to emulate the achievement of the 2016 team that won the thing (with Parton, Cokanasiga, Williams, Hassell Collins, Brand, ICH, Cooke etc). They'll be up against a strong Leicester team who were the eventual winners last season and unbeaten in the northern conference this season. Probably going to be a battle between the best attack in the league (us) and the best defence (them). Here's how they got there:

Gloucester 10 - 22 London Irish (TBP)
London Irish 41 - 31 Quins (TBP)
London Irish 28 - 34 Sarries (TBP + LBP)
London Irish 29 - 17 Bath (TBP)
Bristol 19 - 46 London Irish (TBP)
Exeter 19 - 47 London Irish (TBP)
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By Stevie J
What a great season for this crop of youngsters - whilst Tigers I'm sure will be favourites, they've certainly given a great account of themselves.

The potential to have a set of youngsters who have all the major trophies at this level at Schools and AASE is not something I've seen Irish involved with I think.

Sadly the finals day, traditionally at Allianz Park, has been moved to Worcester this year.
Yeah, the 2016 team was driven primarily by a cracking Wellington College team that year (Williams, ICH, Brand, Parton, Basham etc). Whilst Wellington were strong again this year, the biggest difference has been the strength now of the AASE setup, with lots of really promising looking lads coming through that route.

Win or lose next month it will be interesting to see how many senior academy contracts are handed out. They'll be a few tough decisions to be made.
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By Stevie J
#9495 ... lish-rugby
Tigers have won the last two Premiership U18 titles and look in ominously good shape to complete the ‘threepeat’ on Sunday, whilst Irish lifted the trophy in 2016 under then Academy Director Nick Kennedy. Gloucester have been unable to stop Leicester in the last two finals, so the challenge now falls to the Exiles on Sunday.

A little preview by way of Alex Shaw for this weekend's final for the U18s.
Saw that yesterday. He may know something that we don't, but Harmes hasn't featured at all in the academy league and only briefly in the AASE league. Dykes has also been absent for almost all of the academy league. Both presumably due to injury. It's the younger lads like Arundell and Hartikainen that have been doing the business on the wing.
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By Stevie J
The match finished 22-22. We scored more tries than Tigers but with only one conversion made.

No extra time, the title is shared with Tigers. Really an incredible achievement coupled with St Paul’s and Welly’s achievements this year, could be a bumper crop of promising academy kids the next 2 seasons.
Yep, cracking achievement and a shame Prem rugby couldn't stream this in the same way the way the RFU do for schools/AASE games.

Some superb prospects in this crop. Guys like Haffar, Joseph and Dykes (who was injured for this one) have a really high ceiling. Expect a decent amount of senior academy contracts to be handed out this season. Also some cracking U17s still in the frame for next season (Bradbury, Arundell, Hartikainen etc.). A real testament to the hard work put in by all the lads and the coaches. Wouldn't surprise me to see O'Grady step up to first team coaching in the next year or two.
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By Stevie J
Another Telegraph (Premium) article. Hate to say it but their Rugby coverage is pretty extensive; ... ding-cuts/
On Sunday, the most eye-catching performance was delivered by London Irish's Outside Centre Will Joseph, whose quick footwork and sumptuous outside break are almost a stride-for-stride replica of his brother Jonathan's.
Yeah, saw that the other day.. Bradbury looks a cracking playmaker with ball in hand. Hartikainen and Arundell seem to have done well this year, based purely on the amount of tries they've run in. Hartikainen is the one scoring the tries on this vid

Following lads also called up for the Eng U18s this spring
Morgan (was previously involved with Ireland U18s)

Harmes, Keohane and Dykes have also played U18s on the summer tour to SA, so plenty of representation at that level from the club this season.

Academy League final is here for anyone with the patients to watch the game filmed from the 22. Cuts out just before the end when we were held up. So close to winning it before then with Harmes breaking through and being hauled down before the line. Got the ball down, but conceded a pen for a double movement

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