Harlequins have been no stranger to the early talent identification of the Irish Rugby Football Union, the provinces and the Irish Exiles program.
In 2015, Sam Arnold, a product of Cranleigh School and the Harlequins academy, made the move to Ulster straight out of school and has since gone on to join Munster, which propelled him to his international debut against the USA at the end of last year.
In 2016, lock Kieran Treadwell made the same move from Guildford to Belfast, joining Ulster after having spent a couple of seasons in Harlequins’ senior academy, as well as having represented England U20s. The second row has made himself a valuable member of the Ulster squad, something which has helped him win three caps for Ireland, despite fierce competition in the engine room.
RugbyPass understand that the next name to join Arnold and Treadwell in taking this path across the Irish Sea is set to be promising centre Hayden Hyde.
Hyde is currently in Harlequins’ junior academy as he finishes up his final year at Cranleigh and RugbyPass understand that the Gallagher Premiership side were keen to retain him, but it seems as if the lure of Ulster and the pathway to the national team in Ireland has proven too strong for him to turn down.
A former back rower, Hyde has set himself apart at U18 level with his physical and incisive running in the midfield, as well as a developing passing game and ability to keep phases alive after breaks.
Should the move be confirmed, Hyde will find himself battling it out with the likes of Will Addison, Darren Cave and Luke Marshall for the 13 jersey next season at the Kingspan and would offer another physical option in the long-term, alongside the robust duo of Stuart McCloskey and Jacob Stockdale.
Hyde was briefly included in an England U18 training squad earlier this season, but was removed shortly after the team was named. He had previously represented the Ireland U19 side last season when he was still an U17 and there’s an outside chance he could feature for the Grand Slam-winning Ireland U20 side at the World Rugby U20 Championship in Argentina this summer.
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