July 31 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Harlequins have a rich history of producing home-grown talent and academy director Tony Diprose believes fans who attend the Under-18s Academy Finals Day on Monday will see the next generation of England graduates for free.
Eight Aviva Premiership academy teams will gather at Saracens’ Allianz Park home to feature in the inaugural event, with Quins taking on Leicester Tigers.
The competition is designed to encourage the development of future Premiership stars, without an overly-competitive framework, and top-flight bosses will descend on north London to cast an eye on the talented teenagers.
Diprose, a former Quins No.8 who moved upstairs after retiring in 2006, leads a squad packed full of talent with plenty of success stories to emulate.
The likes of Will Collier and Charlie Matthews have graduated from the academy to the Aviva Premiership while Joe Marler is now an England prop and Diprose admits the next generation are ready to shine.
“I would be looking at players like Will Collier and Charlie Matthews, who are now regular players at Harlequins,” he said. “Joe Marler would have been in this group three or four years ago and now he is an England player.
“We have got a good record of developing our own players and many of these guys could be the next lot to come through.
“It is giving those players – the best of the best – the chance to play against some of the other academies and it is a good challenge for them.
“If you are there at Allianz Park on Monday what you are going to see is a number of players who are going to be playing Premiership Rugby in five or six years.”
Entry to the event is free and Diprose knows there are plenty of reasons for supporters to come along for the day and spot one or two future England players.
For the squad itself it is an opportunity for a new challenge, after they qualified from the southern conference to earn a clash with an unfamiliar Leicester Tigers outfit.
“I think it is a nice way to end the season for the Under-18s group and play someone that we don’t often play,” added Disprose.
“It is a chance to play some of the northern academies and obviously Leicester will provide us with a great challenge. It gives us a chance to put players in different situations.
“The standard feels high – we have had some really good games. We obviously lost to Exeter, who put in a fantastic performance.
“We have a good group of guys who have been playing together for a number of years. We have got a couple of guys involved in the England Under-18s setup so we would hope for them to step up.
“We want to see the guys expressing themselves and playing in the way that they can.”
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