Northampton Saints Under-18s’ fixtures for the 2021/22 season have been confirmed, with the Junior Academy side returning to Premiership Rugby Under-18 Academy League action for the first time since early 2020.
After 13 months without a game, the side returned to on-field action back in spring of this year, with friendly clashes against Saracens, Harlequins, London Irish and Yorkshire Carnegie breaking the hiatus enforced during the pandemic.
But now Saints’ youngsters will get back to competitive rugby, as the side – led by Academy coach Will Parkin and assisted by Mark Hopley, Alex O'Dowd and Tim Grimsey – look forward to six regular-season matches ahead of Finals Day in February.
Northampton will kick-off their campaign with an East Midlands derby, welcoming Leicester Tigers to Bedford Athletic RFC on Friday 17 December, before facing Yorkshire Carnegie at the same venue six days later (Thursday 23 December) in Round 2.
Saints Under-18s will then start 2022 on the road with three back-to-back away clashes; a trip to Sale Sharks on Sunday 9 January precedes shorter trips to Worcester Warriors (Sunday 16 January) and Wasps (Saturday 22 January) in the following weeks.
Finally, Saints’ youngsters will enjoy a bye weekend in Round 6 before closing out the regular season against Newcastle Falcons on home soil at cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens on Saturday 12 February.
After an extended period away from league rugby, Parkin is relishing the prospect of his side returning to competitive action.
“We’re really excited to get started again in the league,” he said. “The lads coped brilliantly throughout 2020 and early 2021, and we had a number of guys really throw themselves into training and matches once we finally got back underway last spring – with the likes of Leroy O’Neil and George Hendy earning themselves senior contracts off the back of those performances.
“What better way to get back to it than with an East Midlands derby? It’s a game we all look for on the calendar at every level; the rivalry at Under-18s is no different to senior rugby, so we hope we can really set our intention for the season from the off.
“Back-to-back home clashes will give us a great platform to build on as we head into the New Year, and we’re grateful to Bedford Athletic for providing us with a base for those opening rounds.
“This year’s crop have got a brilliant opportunity to showcase their talents. The six fixtures will allow us to see the boys learn, develop and grow. I can’t wait to see the boys show us what they are capable of.”
Northampton Saints’ Under-18s Fixtures 2021/22
Round 1: Northampton Saints vs Leicester Tigers, Friday 17 December, Bedford Athletic RFC (kick-off: 7pm)
Round 2: Northampton Saints vs Yorkshire Carnegie Thursday 23 December, Bedford Athletic RFC (kick-off: 2pm)
Round 3: Sale Sharks vs Northampton Saints, Sunday 9 January, Heywood Road (kick-off: 2pm)
Round 4: Worcester Warriors vs Northampton Saints, Sunday 16 January, Sixways (kick-off: TBC)
Round 5: Wasps vs Northampton Saints, Saturday 22 January, Aylesbury Rugby Club (kick-off: 2pm)
Round 6: Bye round
Round 7: Northampton Saints vs Newcastle Falcons, Saturday 12 February, cinch Stadium at Franklin’s Gardens (kick-off: 2pm)
Finals Day: w/e of 26/26 February (kick-off: TBC)