Bath Rugby’s academy director Danny Grewcock believes Charlie Ewels’ graduation from rookie to fully-fledged first teamer should act as an inspiration to his current crop of U18s as they prepare for the Premiership Rugby / RFU U18 Academy Finals Day at Allianz Park.
Their place in Monday’s end-of-season spectacular was ensured with a 25-17 victory over Exeter Chiefs in last Saturday’s final Southern Conference fixture and a showdown with Leicester Tigers now follows.
All eyes will now turn to Monday, hoping to spot the next Aviva Premiership Rugby star and Grewcock points to the progress of Ewels, who has featured for Bath in both domestic and European contests this year, as a potential benchmark.
“Monday is about the effort and performance levels we put in, sometimes the results won’t go your way, but that shouldn’t be how these boys are judged,” said the former Bath captain.
“The measure of progress and how the Academy is performing can be judged by how many players remain in the sport.
“Charlie Ewels came through as part of a very talented year group which also included Tom Ellis and has been involved in the England Under-20s, made his Aviva Premiership Rugby debut and played in the LV= Cup and Europe.
“He’s had an extraordinary season and the hope for us is that a few more players continue on the path to first team rugby. Charlie is very talented, works very hard and he’s got his rewards from that.
“We’ve got a very talented group now too, particularly the forwards, and any of them are capable of being named man of the match on Monday.”
Bath’s Owen Waters is the top points scorer in the competition with 65, including three tries, and has Josh Sharps’ season-record 75 points, set in 2012/13, firmly in his sights.
Of the finals day teams, only Southern Conference first-placed side Saracens scored more than Bath’s 23-try haul from six games and Grewcock insists that expansive philosophy will not change when Bath and Tigers renew their historic rivalry.
“We play a very positive, attacking game. We have a very skilful group of players and we want them to express themselves,” he added.
“That won’t change against Leicester and they have a great stage with which to play on.
“There are very talented young lads in our squad, who work incredibly hard. They show great ambition to play at this level.
“We had our final game on Saturday against a very strong Exeter team. We didn’t know at that stage if we had got to the Finals or not, but the boys worked incredibly hard and it’s good to see them get the reward of playing on Monday.
“Bath and Leicester have crossed swords plenty of times over the years, there’s plenty of history and it’s going to be great for the boys to play in that stadium.”
1pm: Gloucester Rugby v Exeter Chiefs (5th / 6th play-off)
3pm: Bath Rugby v Leicester Tigers (3rd / 4th play-off)
5pm: Northampton Saints v Saracens (Final)
The Premiership Rugby / RFU U18 Academy Finals Day will take place on Monday, 16 February at Allianz Park. Entry is free with gates opening at 11.30am with the first game kicking off at 1pm.