Bath Rugby Under-17s and Under-18s enjoyed their first rugby of the 2021/22 calendar when they took part in the U17 and U18 RFU Academy Festival at Malvern College.
Ordinarily split U16 and U18, this year the Under-17s replaced the younger group in order to allow players that completely missed out on game time last season due to Covid-19 to show their skills, development, and potential.
The club’s Under-17s were the first to feature at the Festival, playing two 30-minute games against Bristol Bears and London Irish as well as two 15-minute matches against Newcastle Falcons and Yorkshire Academy.
For the majority of the squad, it was their first fixtures since they were 15-years-old and they began with a 0-0 draw with Bristol before a defeat to Irish. As they day went on, they developed hugely, securing a 10-10 draw against Newcastle ahead of a 15-5 win over Yorkshire.
Benefitting from four games during the backend of the 2020/21 campaign, Bath Rugby Under-18s recorded four wins out of four.
They started with a 10-5 victory over Yorkshire before an impressive 20-5 win against Irish – both 30-minute matches. Another win over Yorkshire (20-0) followed and they rounded things off with a 15-5 win over Bristol.
Summarising the Festival, Academy Manager Craig Lilley said: “We’ve not seen a huge amount our Under-17s; some of them haven’t played a game of rugby since they were 15 so to get them out there was brilliant.
“The nice thing about the Under-17s was how much progress they made throughout the day.
"They were rightfully nervous in their first game but as they got through to game four, some of the rugby they played was absolutely brilliant.”
Lilley continued: “The Under-18s are a group we’ve worked a little bit more with and they were fortunate as Under-17s to get four games of rugby against other Academies at the back end of last season.
“The most rewarding thing for us is the transfer of what we have worked on over the past few weeks in training on to the field in terms of keeping the ball moving, keeping the ball alive and playing to space; that was excellent to see. There were some really good individual performances and equally great team performances as well.