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About the Academy

Leicester Tigers Academy

Leicester Tigers have a strong tradition of producing home-grown players. Tigers legends Martin Johnson and Graham Rowntree were developed from a strong youth structure and Tigers recognised very early that an Academy system was needed to develop players capable of playing professional rugby.

In 1998 the Tigers Academy was established with players such as Harry Ellis, Sam Vesty and Louis Deacon among the first to successfully come through the system. In 2002, Tigers were rewarded for their pioneering work with RFU Academy status.

The Leicester Tigers England Rugby Academy aims to produce players for both Tigers and England. The Academy has produced more than 100 age-grade international as well as producing British & Irish Lions caps Tom Croft, Dan Cole, Harry Ellis, Ollie Smith, Manu Tuilagi, and Ben and Tom Youngs. Among the most recent graduates to become Tigers first-team regulars are Sam Harrison, Fraser Balmain and Harry Thacker.

The Academy process starts with our Developing Player Programme (DPP) for players aged 13-15. Players are selected into four regional Elite Player Development Group (EPDG) squads in their under-16 year, from which the full Academy Programme selects players aged 16-18. Our First XV Development Squad supports the transition of young professional players into the senior ranks.

Player Development Pathway

Click here to view a pdf of the Player Development Pathway.

First XV Development Squad

The First XV Development Squad is made up of full-time players in the 18-23 age group, providing a platform to transition into the senior squad. Each player follows a bespoke training and playing programme and is encouraged to continue with part-time education or work experience. First XV Development Squad players regularly train with the senior squad and play in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, Premiership 'A' League and with selected loan clubs.

16-18 Academy

Players are selected for the Academy at the end of their under-16 year. The aim of the Academy programme is to develop players' readiness for professional rugby and measure their progress through competitive fixtures.
Players in the academy predominantly play their rugby for school or our AASE college from September to December before representing the Leicester Tigers Academy in the Premiership Rugby Academies League programme from December to February.


Our AASE programme allows players to combine studying a range of subjects at Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth I College in Leicester with training at the academy and playing in AASE League fixtures.

Developing Player Programme

Our DPP is the largest in the country and sees regular development opportunities for under-13 to under-15 years at nine centres across our region. Coaching focuses on core skills and game awareness alongside physical literacy. The programme is operated and managed in partnership with Staffordshire, Notts Lincs & Derby, Eastern Counties (Norfolk) and Leicestershire Constituent Bodies and the RFU. Selection for each DPP centre is by nomination at under-13 via club or school coach by completing the online form here. Teachers and coaches are welcome to nominate under-14 to under-16 players at any point by emailing the player's details to DPP@tigers.co.uk

Elite Player Development Group

Our four regional EPDG centres cater for selected groups of under-15 and under-16 players. The focus of the programme is enhancing positional skills and game sense, and introducing strength and conditioning, mental skills and lifestyle education. We continually select EPDG players throughout the season, mainly from DPP centres and under-16 county teams.


While every young player aims to be a professional, it is vital that they continue some form of education.

We have established relationships with a number of education providers within our area. This ensures our players maintain a balanced perspective between their rugby ambitions and life after rugby.

In addition, all players will attend personal development seminars on various subjects to aid their individual understanding of issues such as time management, communication, media training and goal setting.

Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth I College Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth I College is the Academy Official Education Partner.


Our AASE programme allows players to combine studying a full range of subjects at Wyggeston & Queen Elizabeth I College with training at the academy and playing in the AASE League.

Academy Vice-Presidents

We are indebted to our Academy Vice-Presidents who continue to support the programme:

Tim Ellis Mike Bylina
Adam Walker Mark Falkingham
Robert Wills Peter Howard
Tony Snarey John Graham
Joe Grindal
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