Eight new players earn full-time Academy contracts

Rob LloydAcademy, Newyddion yr Academi, Newyddion

Scarlets can confirm the make-up of their contracted Academy squad for the 2022-23 season.

There are eight new intakes at Parc y Scarlets – prop Yestyn Cook, second row Will Evans, openside Keanu Evans, fly-half Steffan Jac Jones and full-back Iori Badham from our U16 programme and Isaac Young (hooker), Joe Rees (hooker) and Ioan Lewis (tight-head prop) from our U18s.

Five of the eight are home-grown products who have come through grassroot clubs, colleges and schools within the Scarlets region and impressed during last season’s Academy age-grade games and training. Isaac, Will and Yestyn have come on board as part of our close relationship with the Welsh Exiles.

The players heading into the second year of their contracts are flanker Will Plessis, centre Macs Page, wing Iolo Griffiths and full-back Harry Fuller, who were signed last year.

Scarlets Development Pathway Manager Kevin George said: “All the players have stood out during our age-grade programmes and we are looking forward to working closely with the boys as they continue their development with us.

“We are extremely proud that the Academy continues to produce professional players, not just for the Scarlets, but for Wales and the British & Irish Lions. Seven of the match-day 23 that played in the historic win over the Springboks in Bloemfontein were with us in the Scarlets Academy.

“The likes of Harri O’Connor, Carwyn Tuipulotu, Kemlsey Mathias, Jac Price and Morgan Jones have all recently come through the Academy and are now playing regularly for the senior side; Archie Hughes and Lewis Morgan, who are in the fourth year of the programme, featured in the URC last season, while Callum Williams has just represented Wales 7s at the Commonwealth Games.

“All the boys coming in know they need to work hard to realise their dreams of playing professional rugby, but we are excited by the talent that we have not just in this contracted group but the players in the selected age-grade teams throughout the wider Academy.”

The opening games of the Academy season will see the Scarlets U17s take on Cardiff Rugby at the Arms Park on Monday (7pm). The U18s boys (7pm) and girls (5pm) teams are both in action against the Dragons at Ystrad Mynach on Wednesday, August 17.

Year 1 contracted players

Yestyn Cook (tight-head prop; Exiles), Will Evans (second row; Exiles), Keanu Evans (openside flanker; Burry Port RFC), Steffan Jac Jones (fly-half; Aberystwyth RFC), Iori Badham (full-back; Tenby RFC).

Year 2  contracted players

Will Plessis (openside flanker; Exiles), Macs Page (centre; Crymych RFC), Iolo Griffiths (wing; Pembroke RFC / Narberth RFC), Harry Fuller (full-back; Whitland RFC)

Year 3 contracted players

Isaac Young (hooker; Exiles), Joe Rees (hooker; Llangennech RFC), Ioan Lewis (tight-head prop; Lampeter RFC / Aberystwyth RFC), Lucca Giannini (No.8; Llanelli Wdrs RFC), Tal Rees (fly-half; Tumble RFC), Iestyn Gwilliam (centre; Tumble RFC), Jac Davies (full-back; Pentyrch RFC /  Pontypridd RFC).

Transition Group

Lewis Morgan (hooker), Caleb Salmon (blindside), Harri Williams (scrum-half), Archie Hughes (scrum-half), Sam O’Connor (loose-head prop), Josh Phillips (fly-half), Eddie James (centre), Callum Williams (wing), Harri O’Connor (prop).

Extended Academy group

Tom Pritchard (Llandovery RFC / Llangennech RFC), Harvey Bullen (Exiles), Harry Thomas (New Dock Stars RFC), Josh Morse (Llandovery RFC), Caio James (Newcastle Emlyn RFC), Deian Gwynne (Aberystwyth RFC), Elis Price (Carmarthen Quins RFC), Jac Pritchard (Llandeilo RFC), Max Boswell (Pembroke RFC), Max James (Tenby RFC), Toby Johnson (Llangennech RFC), Tom Phillips (Llandeilo RFC), Math Jones (Penybanc RFC), Carwyn Leggatt (Carmarthen Quins RFC).

Pictured are (left to right) Keanu Evans, Ioan Lewis, Yestyn Cook, Development Pathway Manager Kevin George, Scarlets Head Coach Dwayne Peel, Will Evans, Isaac Young, Steffan Jac Jone, Iori Badham.