The Christmas period has seen the opening three rounds of the U18 Academy League take place, with Exeter Chiefs v Bath and Northampton Saints v Sale Sharks completing the round over the weekend.
In an intensely competitive opening to the competition, only the back to back champions, Leicester Tigers, remain unbeaten after these opening three rounds. Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum just one side in each conference is yet to seal victory, Yorkshire Carnegie in the Northern Conference and Exeter Chiefs in the South.
The competition continues this weekend with round 4, the midpoint of the campaign, with three further rounds on the weekends of the 18th, 25th, and the 8th of February, with the U18 Academy League finals taking place on Sunday 16th February.
Leicester Tigers have taken the Northern Conference by storm, beating Northampton Saints and Sale Sharks in cracking encounters in the opening two rounds before a strong 19-0 victory over Newcastle Falcons on Saturday 28th.
Sale’s 27-18 defeat at home to Tigers is their only defeat of these opening rounds, having won a tight opener over Worcester Warriors before a thrilling 37-24 victory at Northampton Saints on Sunday in the final game of the third round, leaving them second in the table at present, four points behind the champions.
Behind Sale in third are Worcester, level with Northampton Saints in fourth, Worcester have played just twice having had the bye in round 2. They beat Wasps 33-21 last time out for their first victory. Saints meanwhile have, as mentioned, lost to Tigers and Sale but enjoyed a thumping 50-28 victory at Yorkshire Carnegie in Round 2.
Wasps and Newcastle Falcons sit in 5th and 6th, just a point behind the two ahead. Each has one victory to their name, Wasps beat Yorkshire Carnegie 54-12 in their opener, but the key was surely the game between the two in round 2 where Newcastle hosted Wasps and secured an impressive 42-24 victory.
London Irish are sitting at the top of the table in the Southern Conference thanks to their strong bonus point haul. The Exiles lost a thriller to second place Saracens in Round 3, 34-28, but bonus points their added to their 22-10 victory at Gloucester and 41-31 home victory over Harlequins keep them top of the table.
Saracens have the same record though, in addition to beating Irish they also secured a 31-19 victory over Exeter Chiefs in Round 1. However in Round 2 Bath got the better of them at The Rec, winning 26-14.
Like Irish and Saracens, Bath also have two victories from their three games and sit in third place. Having lost 18-17 to Bristol in Round 1 they bounced back with that victory over Saracens and made it back to back victories on Saturday when they won 22-7 at Truro College against Exeter Chiefs.
Harlequins sit in fourth place with a game in hand having played just twice. They lost that thriller to London Irish in Round 2 and then at Rosslyn Park on Saturday 28th, on a live streamed game, they sealed a 41-15 victory over Gloucester.
Behind Quins are Bristol, who have enjoyed that narrow victory over Bath before an exciting 36-25 defeat at Gloucester. That is Gloucester’s only victory so far, as they Cherry and Whites have lost out to London Irish and Harlequins in their other two games, while Exeter sit at the foot of the table without a victory to their name as yet.
The league is back in action again this weekend, and Leicester Tigers will be looking to make it four from four when they travel to Yorkshire Carnegie. Meanwhile Northampton Saints and Worcester Warriors are also in action in an exciting looking game on Saturday. The Northern Conference action will be finished off for the round on Sunday when Sale Sharks visit Newcastle Falcons, Wasps meanwhile have the bye for Round 4.
Over in the South there will be plenty of focus on the top end clash between London Irish and Bath at Hazelwood on Saturday lunchtime. Meanwhile at Surrey Sports Park Harlequins will be hosting Exeter Chiefs before Saracens host Bristol Bears on Sunday. Gloucester have the Southern Conference bye for round 4.
Please do get in touch with your stories, photos, videos, reports, and opinions from the week’s U18 Academy League rugby! You can get in touch via any of the below methods:
U18 Academy League Tables:
U18 Academy League Results:
Leicester Tigers 25-12 Northampton Saints
Wasps 54-12 Yorkshire Carnegie
Sale Sharks 22-20 Worcester Warriors
Saracens 31-19 Exeter Chiefs
Bristol Bears 18-17 Bath
Gloucester 10-22 London Irish
Newcastle Falcons 42-24 Wasps
Yorkshire Carnegie 28-50 Northampton Saints
Sale Sharks 18-27 Leicester Tigers
Gloucester 36-25 Bristol Bears
London Irish 41-31 Harlequins
Bath 26-14 Saracens
Worcester Warriors 33-21 Wasps
Leicester Tigers 19-0 Newcastle Falcons
Northampton Saints 24-37 Sale Sharks
Harlequins 41-15 Gloucester
London Irish 28-34 Saracens
Exeter Chiefs 7-22 Bath
U18 Academy League Fixtures
Yorkshire Carnegie v Leicester Tigers – Sat 11th Jan, 12.30pm, Yarnbury RFC
Northampton Saints v Worcester – Sat 11th Jan, 2pm, Franklin’s Gardens
Newcastle Falcons v Sale Sharks – Sun 12th Jan, 2pm, Kingston Park
London Irish v Bath – Sat 11th Jan, 1pm, Hazelwood
Harlequins v Exeter Chiefs – Sat 11th Jan, 2pm, Surrey Sports Park
Saracens v Bristol Bears – Sun 12th Jan, 1pm, Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Wasps – Sat 18th Jan, 1.30pm, Franklin’s Gardens
Worcester Warriors v Newcastle Falcons – Sun 19th Jan, 2pm, Sixways
Sale Sharks v Yorkshire Carnegie – Sun 19th Jan, 2.30pm, Manchester Met Uni
Bath v Harlequins – Sat 18th Jan, TBA, TBA
Bristol Bears v London Irish – Sat 18th Jan, 11.30am, Shaftesbury Park
Gloucester v Exeter Chiefs – Sat 18th Jan, 1.30pm, Newlands Park
Yorkshire Carnegie v Newcastle Falcons – Sat 25th Jan, TBA, TBA
Leicester Tigers v Worcester Warriors – Sat 25th Jan, 12pm, Oval Park
Wasps v Sale Sharks – Sat 25th Jan, 1pm, Ricoh Arena
Bristol Bears v Harlequins – Sat 25th Jan, 1pm, Combination Ground
Saracens v Gloucester – Sat 25th Jan, 1pm, Allianz Park
Exeter Chiefs v London Irish – Sat 25th Jan, 2pm, Truro College
Wasps v Leicester Tigers – Sat 8th Feb, 1pm, Aylesbury RFC
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints – Sat 8th Feb, 2pm, Kingston Park
Worcester Warriors v Yorkshire Carnegie – Sat 8th Feb, 2pm, Sixways
Harlequins v Saracens – Sat 8th Feb, 1.30pm, Surrey Sports Park
Bath v Gloucester – Sat 8th Feb, 2pm, Millfield School
Exeter Chiefs v Bristol Bears – Sat 8th Feb, 2pm, Truro College
Finals Day – Sunday 16th February
Image via Claire Tremeer