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AASE Colleges come together in Hartpury

15 September 2011

  • AASE festival success at Hartpury College, Gloucester
  • These tournaments are massively important – Arnott
John Fletcher

Photo: Getty Images

Member colleges of the Advanced Apprenticeship in Sporting Excellence (AASE) programme gathered at Hartpury College in Gloucester yesterday (Wednesday) to compete in a 15-a-side pre-season tournament.

The AASE festival, now in its second year, saw 12 sides compete in three Pools of four, with England Under 18 head coach John Fletcher keeping a close eye on proceedings.

Fletcher, who has won an impressive 89% of matches in charge of the U18s, heaped praise on the AASE programme, and says that the pre-season festival is an important fixture in the calendar.

He said: “The good thing about this kind of tournament is that you have lots of teams, and lots of players in one place and they’re testing themselves against each other, which is vital.

“In terms of what we like to look out for, it’s not rocket science. Obviously Peter Walton (Assistant coach) and Ian Peel (Scrum coach) concentrate on the forwards, but from a backs point of view, I look out for how players manage the game, what their running ability is like and how their passing is – it’s as simple as that.

England U18's Jack Arnott

Photo: Getty Images

“A few players have caught our eye, and over the last few years around 50% of our U18 squad has come from the AASE colleges. History tells us that we can expect the same this season, with the other players coming from strong rugby playing schools and independent schools.”

Ivybridge full back Jack Arnott is one of many success stories to come out of the AASE programme. The 18-year-old represented England at U18 level last season, and on their recent, successful tour to Australia, where the squad won all three matches.

Jack added: “These tournaments are massively important for a couple of reasons; not only do they help kick-start the rugby season, but the England coaches are down and watching, which is a huge incentive.

“A lot of the players competing will have just joined the colleges, so it’s really useful to be able to have a run out and test yourselves against the colleges we’ll be competing against throughout the year.”

Colleges competing

Hartpury A (Gloucester Rugby)
Hartpury B (Gloucester Rugby)
Filton (Bristol Rugby)
Myerscough (Sale Sharks)
Ivybridge (Exeter Chiefs)
Exeter (Exeter Chiefs)
Truro (Exeter Chiefs)
Oaklands (Saracens)
Henley (London Wasps)
St Pauls (London Irish)
Worcester (Worcester Warriors)
Prince Henry’s (Leeds Carnegie)