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Exiles programme delivers for Scarlets

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The story of the English 16-year-old who has signed a five-year deal at Scarlets

Guinness PRO14 outfit Scarlets have handed an English 16-year-old a five-year contract. Harry Williams had been attending school in England, but the Welsh region has now snapped up the youngster on a long-term deal as part of their Parc Y Scarlets academy programme. 

Described as a livewire No9, Williams is a pupil at St Joseph’s College in Ipswich and has been with the Northampton Saints academy for the last three years. It’s said he is a lifelong Scarlets fan with a grandfather from Pontyberem and a father from Dunvant.

Scarlets development pathway manager Kevin George said on the club’s website: “I watched Harry play for Northampton as a 15-year-old in an under-18s game against Worcester and he was outstanding. 

“He is very sharp, elusive and has played in our combined team and excelled in that. Harry will be staying in school for the next two years in Ipswich and then join us to go to Swansea Uni.”

WalesOnline added that Williams father Jon had spoken about his son’s high hopes for making the grand in Welsh rugby. “Many years ago he made a list of the things he wanted to achieve in his life,” he said.

“It’s still pinned up in my mum and dad’s kitchen and on the piece of paper he wrote that he wanted to play pro rugby and also play for Wales and the British Lions.

“It’s in his blood and in addition to myself, Tom (Harry’s older brother) played for the Welsh under-18 side, his granddad used to train with Scarlets in the 1970s and my brother, Craig, played semi-professional rugby for Swansea.

“Harry’s a very driven, highly-committed individual and that, combined with his natural talent and passion, has helped him get to this level. He has belief and confidence in his ability and a mature head on young shoulders.”

Williams isn’t the only recruitment Scarlets have done of players once attached to an English club. They have also taken on board two front row-playing brothers – Sam O’Connor, 17, and Harri O’Connor, 18 – who were once part of the Bath academy programme. 

“Both Harri and Sam were in Bath academy and both went via the WRU’s exiles programme to Llandovery College,” explained academy pathway manager George. 

“Both had very good seasons and played under-18 and under-19 for Wales. They are modern, mobile props which we are always looking for. One is a tighthead and one a loosehead — there is plenty of potential there.”

WATCH: Episode one of The Academy, the six-part RugbyPass documentary series looking at how Leicester Tigers develop their players

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The story of the English 16-year-old who has signed a five-year deal at Scarlets