TOP BAR - Fixtures

Gloucester Rugby U18s’ progress pleases Head of Academy

Gloucester Rugby’s U18s side made it six wins from six this season in the U18 Premiership Rugby competition with a 36-28 win at Northampton last Saturday.

Head of Academy, Neil McCarthy, reflected on their progress.

The victory means that Gloucester have finished top of the Northern conference and will now square off against London Irish at Allianz Park on February 15th to determine the best team in the country.

However, whilst winning is important according to McCarthy, who returned to Gloucester to take on his new role less than a year ago, it’s more about the bigger picture.

“I think in terms of performance, it’s been really positive. We’re not necessarily focused on winning the Academy League so results aren't our priority. Our priority is to develop players who are capable of progressing into the first team.

“But it’s really pleasing that our performances across the board have been really good and, as a consequence, we’ve had some good results.

“It’s a step up from the schools programmes that they’ve been involved in because they’re playing against the other best players in the country. So, it’s right and proper also that we need to prep them for the rigours of senior rugby as best we can.

“But, equally, there’s a balance there in terms of providing an environment where the players can express their ability because they’re all vying for professional contracts.

“So that means not over-organising them so that their individual expression isn’t stifled.”

Remarkably, the feeling around the camp is that the U18s haven’t perhaps yet fielded their best possible side due to injuries and availability. But, being able to provide playing opportunities to as many players as possible, is a
key goal.

“One of the most pleasing elements is that we haven’t put the same team out twice. Clearly we have some stand-out players in that group, we also have some lads in the lower sixth who are equally as good and have had as much opportunity.

“It’s not just about trying to win the league, it’s about trying to create a performance. Equally, we want to develop a programme based on sustainable excellence and that means players at the bottom end of the programme having an opportunity as well. And, when they have an opportunity, doing well.”

And several members of the squad have certainly made the most of their chances, and their performances have led to selection in the Gloucester XV that took on the Barbarians back in November and also for Gloucester United in the A League.

“The A League is part of the pathway. It’s a stepping stone to playing in the first team and, if the lads are playing well at U18 level, it’s right and proper that we give them an opportunity in the A League.

“And we’ve managed to do that and also maintain a winning habit in the A League as well. On both fronts, it’s really positive because we want to develop a winning culture but also provide playing opportunities.”

McCarthy was speaking to the club website at the club’s training base at Hartpury College and it was a perfect moment to pay tribute to the relationship between the two organisations.

“Hartpury is a big part of the Academy programme as are our other Education partners. But we do have a special relationship with Hartpury if you like. It’s been developed over a long time and we want to maintain that.

“There are players who are at school at Hartpury who play in their rugby programme, playing in their U18s. Some of those have been recruited by Hartpury, some of them we’ve put into Hartpury. So, it’s a real collaborative effort in terms of them doing well and us doing well.”

Looking forward, the focus is now on the game against London Irish and it will be a valuable experience, one that will be taken seriously.

“We’re approaching this game as if it was a final. As such, our preparations will be quite intense. We don’t want to heap pressure on the boys because, being able to perform in big games under pressure, ultimately decides who is good and who is great and who is going to progress into the first team.

“We’re not going to shy away from the fact that we’re in a final. The expectation will increase on us and on the players and we want to go there and win it ultimately.”
 

Latest News

Toby Flood starts for Newcastle Falcons against Rotherham Titans

Toby Flood makes the first start of his second spell at Newcastle Falcons on Saturday when they host Rotherham Titans…

Joe Marler commits to Harlequins until 2021

Harlequins is thrilled to announce today, Friday 18th August, that England and British and Irish Lions prop, Joe Marler, has…

Joe Marler

European fixtures to be released on Tuesday

The fixtures for the 2017/18 Champions Cup and Challenge Cup season will be announced on Tuesday, 22 August at 3.00pm…

Rokoduguni starts for Bath Rugby against Ospreys

Semesa Rokoduguni will make his first appearance of pre-season when Bath Rugby take on Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium on…

Harlequins team to play Jersey Reds

Harlequins has announced the squad to play Jersey Reds in the final match of the 2017/18 pre-season campaign, at The…

Francis Saili

Stringer starts for Worcester Warriors at Birmingham Moseley

Summer signing Peter Stringer will get his first start for Warriors on Friday night as his side take on Birmingham…

London Irish name side for Ealing Trailfinders clash

London Irish have named a 30-man squad for this Friday’s pre-season clash with Ealing Trailfinders at Hazelwood (kick-off 7.30pm). The…

Gloucester Rugby announce line-ups for preseason friendly at Leinster

Gloucester Rugby will give game time to a number of their first team squad in Leinster on Friday evening as…

American rugby players and coaches to get once in a lifetime opportunity

Thirty American rugby players and coaches are being handed the chance of a lifetime to train in England with Premiership…

Stephen Myler: Northampton Saints ready to fight for the title

Stephen Myler is predicting the closest ever Aviva Premiership Rugby campaign and believes his Northampton Saints side will be right…

Sonatane Takulua expecting big things from Newcastle Falcons this season

Sonatane Takulua believes unity and a collective purpose, combined with an improved playing pool, can help propel Newcastle Falcons up…

Sonatane Takulua

Wasps name team for first pre-season fixture against Ulster

Dai Young has named a 26-man squad to take on Ulster Rugby at Kingspan Stadium in the first pre-season fixture…

Anglo-Welsh Cup 2017-18 launched

WORCESTER WARRIORS have the honour of hosting the opening match in this year’s Anglo-Welsh Cup on Friday 3 November, when…

Leicester Tigers win the Anglo Welsh Cup

Ally Hogg pleased by Newcastle Falcons’ early progress

Ally Hogg believes Newcastle Falcons are well set to attack the new Aviva Premiership season after a double dose of…

Ally Hogg

Topsy Ojo relishing Exiles return to Aviva Premiership Rugby action at HQ

Topsy Ojo believes there could be no more fitting way for London Irish to announce their return as an Aviva…

Newcastle Falcons’ Sonatane Takulua sees Philadelphia trip as a ‘great opportunity’

Newcastle Falcons’ Sonatane Takulua insists his side’s September clash with Saracens in Philadelphia will be no holiday for the players,…

Sonatane Takulua

Harlequins statement: Luke Wallace and Jonas Mikalcius

Harlequins can confirm today (Tuesday 15th August) that flanker Luke Wallace dislocated his hip during the pre-season friendly against London…

Luke Wallace

London Irish kick-off Anglo-Welsh Cup at home to Bath

London Irish will host Bath Rugby at the Madejski Stadium in the opening round of the Anglo-Welsh Cup on Saturday…

London Irish kick-off Anglo-Welsh Cup at home to Bath

HITZ graduate secures first full time job after being inspired by Premiership Rugby final

A teenager from Leigh who overcame a troubled home life and tackled confidence and communication issues thanks to Premiership Rugby…

Lucy Neal