Yorkshire Carnegie’s Under-16s and 18s took part in a two-day RFU Festival at Warwick School, alongside teams from Exeter, Newcastle, Sale, Saracens, Wasps, Leicester, Bristol, Northampton, Gloucester, Bath, London Irish and Harlequins.

The purpose of the festival was to provide a learning and development opportunity for players in the academy system.  Secondly, the matches provided an environment to asses the abilities and potential of players to progress within the Academy and England age-grade pathway.  The aim of the competition was to have more ball in play, more ball movement and more opportunities for all players to make more decisions.

Ben Lazenby, Yorkshire Carnegie Academy manager said: “It was a very successful festival for our Academy.  The first day our Under-16s achieved a lot in terms of learning and meeting their training objectives in a tough day against some very well drilled opposition. Overall we were pleased with the effort and application of our objectives and at our best we were unplayable against, we just need to stitch together these parts together with more learning and exposure to academy level rugby, continue to fail and learn from our mistakes.”

On the second day of the festival, a team with a mix of Under-17 and Under-18s players to on Exeter Chiefs. Man for man, Exeter were a much bigger outfit and from the kick off Carnegie had to show strong defence and they defended resolutely for several phases with some impressive collision wins and intent to win the ball back at the breakdown, that really set the tone for the rest of the day.

After a couple of penalties where Carnegie played quickly and took a quick tap we made plenty of yards up field.  Tom Stephenson put in a cross-field kick and found James Magee in acres of space to dot down. Exeter scored a well worked try after Carnegie conceded a few penalties.

The game finished 2-2 in tries, with Carnegie’s second try coming from a well-constructed driving lineout, all the more impressive as the Exeter pack was full of big boys.

The scramble defence late on was very impressive and the work rate for each other was fantastic. Joey Gatus coming up with the best tackle of game, chasing back 40 metres to stop the Exeter full back scoring a winner late on.

The second game was against Bath and Carnegie made 14 changes to their side and started really well, with some great offloads out of the tackle they were able to chalk up the first score early on.

Bath fought their way back into the game to level. Both teams looked to play an exciting style of rugby. Yorkshire Carnegie started to get on top and after a turnover Cail Cookland put a neat grubber through for himself to collect then tip inside to the supporting George Wright who then off loaded out of the tackle to Kian Stewart to score the try.

In the third game Carnegie took on Bristol and dominated large parts of the 30 minute game, the score was 1- 0 but Carnegie missed a few opportunities to show their dominance.

A great first phase try form Joey Gatus following and impressive break from Kieran Wilyman. Once again, Carnegie’s defence was very good and their desire to scramble on the odd occasion when the defensive line was breached was outstanding.

Scott Barrow, Academy Performance Coach said: “There was plenty of outstanding contributions across the 32-man squad; Ted Wainwright being the pick if the bunch. There is lots of competition for places and that has really brought the best out of the Under-18s. I can see the friendships and cohesion of a really good group starting to appear. Well done on a solid pre-season and let’s keep developing and challenging each other.”