Lilley pleased with Academy progress in 2020/21

4 June 2021

Bath Rugby Under-18s finished off their block of four fixtures with a 26-24 victory over London Irish at Chippenham RFC.

Mackenzie Graham dotted down in the closing stages and his effort was converted as the junior Blue, Black and Whites sealed a second win.

The match was played in three periods with the club’s Under-17 contingent starting the fixture and the Under-18s introduced as it went on. 

Academy Manager Craig Lilley had called for a quicker start after the previous two outings against Leicester Tigers and Exeter Chiefs and was pleased with the squad’s performance.

“The Irish game was awesome,” he said.

“We picked a bigger squad to give everyone an opportunity to put the Bath shirt on after a long season against a good Irish team.

“There was a danger that the introduction of players coming in for their first start would allow for a slow start, but we started well and it set the tone for the rest of the match. 

“We developed into a team who were more accurate with ball in hand in the middle third and moved it well, making line breaks and getting on the end of opportunities. There was more fluidity in our game and came together as a team to sneak the result at the end.

“It was huge for the Under-18s to sign off on a high. A lot have been with the club since they were 13 or 14 and have put a lot of commitment into the program.

"It was nice to enjoy the win together with the players and their parents after the game and it’s a memory the boys can take forward with them.”

The four games against Bristol Bears, Leicester, Exeter and London Irish concluded a turbulent season due to COVID-19. 

A lot of work has been done to develop the players on the training field and Lilley is pleased with how the year has gone as a whole.

“It’s been positive,” he concluded. 

“Getting those four games in were huge for the group; the games are the perfect opportunity for feedback so it was important for the players and coaches to see where the players are at and where they want to get to. 

“The progress within the group has been very good. The results weren’t the main focus; it was about progression, learning and exploring our game.

“We’re going to go into June pre-season and give the boys time off in July. We are almost picking up where we left off which is unusual. But it is a good opportunity for Under-16s and Under-17s stepping up to grow together as a team ahead of the 2021/22 season.”


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