Bedford Blues and Saracens will once again be working together next season as it was confirmed that five talented youngsters will be heading to Goldington Road for the 2015/16 Greene King IPA Championship campaign.
The likes of Owen Farrell, George Kruis, Jackson Wray, James Short, Ben Ransom and Will Fraser all gained valuable experience with the Blues before going on to make a huge impact with Saracens and the same is hoped for the current crop who will be heading up the M1 from Allianz Park
Arriving at the Blues will be prop Biyi Alo, back rower Hayden Thompson-Stringer, centre Tom Griffiths, scrum half Henry Taylor and winger George Perkins.
Speaking about the new recruits, Blues Director of Rugby Mike Rayer said: “We’ve had a very special working relationship with Saracens over the years and I’m delighted that we are able to call upon such an exciting pool of talent over the coming season.
“Everyone is keen to see what these boys are capable of and I’m sure that the fans will be excited to see them in a Blues shirt soon.
“All of the lads have represented England Under 20s and being part of the Saracens set-up means that they are highly motivated and keen to succeed by following the same pathway of some illustrious names in English rugby.”
Saracens Director of Rugby, Mark McCall: “The agreement between Saracens and Bedford continues to beneficial for us as a club. Many players have gained valuable experience within the Championship before making the transition to the Premiership and we hope that both clubs continue to benefit from this agreement.”
Saracens Academy Manager, Don Barrell, himself a former Bedford player, continued: “The relationship we have with Bedford is huge. All the players who have been to Goldington Road have really benefitted and you only have to look at the list of players who have been up there and played valuable minutes to see how important the relationship is. It’s a great opportunity for this latest crop of players to go and play rugby at a high standard.”
Alo is a powerhouse tighthead prop who has been part of the Saracens set up for over five years now.
Having spent two years playing for Loughborough University while studying Sports Science, Sport Development and Sport Management, the 21-year-old has been training full time with the first team for the past year while also spending time on loan at Old Albanians and featuring for England in the Junior Rugby World Cup last summer.
Standing at six feet two inches tall and weighing in at 18 stone 10 pounds, the youngster is sure to add plenty of strength to the Blues scrum.
Thompson-Stringer is a name well known to the Blues faithful having spent last season on dual-registration and making several appearances. The hard tackling back rower was a member of the England U20s victorious Junior World Championship squad and has also represented his country at Under 18 and 19 levels.
A member of the victorious 2013 Melrose 7s Saracens squad, Thompson-Stringer made his Saracens Premiership debut in the clubs narrow defeat to Leicester Tigers at Welford Road in May 2014.
Originally from Gloucester and a season ticket holder at the Cherry and Whites, Griffiths signed for Saracens having helped Hartbury College to win their fourth consecutive AASE title in April 2013.
Starting as a fly half, he switched to centre while at school and has gone on to represent Saracens Storm throughout their A League campaign while also being called up to the England Under 20 squad.
Taylor is another Loughborough University graduate who was also involved in the Junior RWC in New Zealand. Once part of the Harlequins Academy, the 21-year-old played in National League One for Loughborough Students before getting the England call and being snapped up by Saracens.
Perkins is a speedy winger, who won the junior boys 100m in the England Schools Athletic Championships and has represented England at Under 17, 18, 19 and 20 while also featuring for Saracens Storm and spending time on loan with Old Albanians.
George - who comes with a glowing reference from Don Barrell and Ian Vass - played in every Six Nations match this year and bagged a try against France in the final game at Brighton as England lifted the title for the fourth time in five years.