- The 2017/18 AASE League involves 14 teams with players aged 16-18
- Each side is linked to a professional academy
- View all the fixtures and results here
Worcester Sixth Form College are a rugby team on fire, tearing their way through the AASE League with just one defeat this term and showing no signs of slowing down.
They have not historically been one of the strongest sides in the AASE League, a competition for players aged 16-18 across the country, but recent seasons have seen a marked improvement in results.
The college’s AASE programme is run in conjunction with Worcester Warriors and bit by bit, inch by inch, they’re achieving excellence.
The programme aims to help its students develop as athletes and individuals, but it’s also starting to produce top-class rugby players, as we saw in the Anglo-Welsh Cup last weekend…
King of the Hill
On Friday night at Sixways, Worcester Warriors faced off against Sale Sharks in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, and versatile forward Ted Hill came on as a replacement to make his debut for the first team.
Hill, a graduate of Worcester College’s AASE programme, has already represented England Under-20s at the age of 17 and the college’s AASE manager Ryan Watkins is predicting big things.
“The one that stood out last year at the end of the season was Ted Hill,” Watkins explained.
“Ted’s a No.6 or second-row, he’s a big old unit and I’m pretty sure people will see what he can do in games for the Warriors this year.
“He’s played a lot of Worcester’s A League games so far – our whole squad will pretty much come down and watch him because they want to see their mate doing well.
“There’s more and more that are graduating but Ted’s the first one I’ve had that I’m hoping will play Premiership rugby.
“He’s doing pretty well at Worcester now and I’ve also got him on loan at the men’s team I coach [National 2 North side Luctonians] so he’s not rid of me yet!"
The Golden Path
Hill, now 18, was ultimately unable to prevent the Warriors going down to a narrow defeat in that Anglo-Welsh Cup match against Sale – but his debut at such a young age indicates he’s on the right path.
The Midlands is of course a breeding ground for some stunning rugby talent and Hill is walking in the footsteps of another famous alumnus of Worcester College.
“Matt Kvesic would probably be the biggest name the college has produced,” added Watkins. “There’s Andy Short as well who played for Worcester and Bristol, Jake Abbott played at Warriors for a while.
“There have been a few over the years but I’m predicting there will be a few more coming through now than there were in the past.
“There’s a lot more focus from the club side of things and we get a lot of support in terms of strength and conditioning and medical."
The changes and increased input from the Premiership club has had the desired effect, with Watkins’ current squad in top form and gunning for their first ever AASE League title.
Last season was a good year for the college, they qualified for the top-half split before losing to Gosforth in the semi-final.
The team are well-positioned to go at least one stage further in the competition this season and Watkins explained the reasons for their success.
“There wasn’t the competition in the squad when I first came here four years ago,” he added. “That’s gradually been built.
“When I first came they’d been winning one game a year and a lot of it is down to the belief in the lads.
“The boys are really training hard and we’ve got a really good group this year – we spent quite bit of time in pre-season just building a team and doing things that weren’t necessarily rugby-related.
“There’s been a growing culture of expecting a little bit more in terms of performance and results and each year we’ve gradually got better.”