Feb 14, 2014
English rugby's brightest prospects on parade
The heads of elite player development in the Aviva Premiership will be watching with interest as the brightest teenage prospects in English rugby do battle at Allianz Park on Monday.
Having been whittled down from 14 academy teams to a final eight, the youngsters head to the home of Saracens for the inaugural Under-18s Academy Finals Day.
Premiership Rugby's Head of Academies and Development, Mike Hynard, is expecting a festival of raw talent and professionalism – with supporters invited to attend free of charge.
"It is going to be a great occasion for the players to showcase their skills and for the academy coaches to showcase the hard work they have put in,” said Hynard.
"The Academy U18 games have provided the perfect opportunities for Academy managers and Directors of Rugby to make decisions on the future of many of these talented U18 rugby players.
"The standard this year, upon last year, is vastly improved. The teams are better organised and the boys are better prepared, physically, technically and tactically.
"Many of the players on show on Monday will be the future stars of the Premiership, and the depth of talent will also, no doubt, strengthen the senior England team in the future. These games are a great opportunity for the talent of tomorrow to demonstrate their potential and stake a claim for a full time senior professional contract.”
The event kicks off with hosts Saracens taking on London Irish and draws to a climax when the two group winners, Northampton Saints and Exeter Chiefs, meet.
There will be no champion crowned on Monday, as the tournament focuses on development rather than competition, and Hynard believes that is important for producing future stars.
"The focus of the academy programme is to find players of the future,” he said. "We don't want to become too competition-focussed – as in win at all costs.
"The whole ethos is to get the best 16, 17 and 18-year-olds playing in quality academy games having been prepared by top quality professional coaches.”
The full schedule on Monday:
11.00 Game 1 Saracens v London Irish
13.00 Game 2 Bath v Gloucester
15.00 Game 3 Harlequins v Leicester
17.00 Game 4 Northampton v Exeter
Entry is free at Allianz Park