Wasps Director of Rugby Dai Young has added five new names to his playing squad in preparation for the 2018/19 season, all from the Championship.
The 26-year-old London Scottish openside has been a standout performer in the Championship this season and has been rewarded with a move to the top tier of English rugby. Formerly of Cornish Pirates, Atkinson has scored 11 tries in his last 50 appearances for London Scottish and was recently voted as players’ player-of-the-season.
Michael Le Bourgeois
The Bedford Blues utility back has enjoyed a standout season in the Championship this year and was rewarded for his efforts with the RPA's player-of-the-season award for the 2017/18 campaign. Able to cover fly-half, inside centre and fullback, Le Bourgeois will go some way to further strengthening Wasps' backline.
The 22-year-old powerhouse of a centre has been an imperious figure for London Scottish this year, claiming eight tries this season alone. At 6ft5" and 105kg, Neal will provide an excellent physical edge to Wasps' back division, ensuring front-foot ball in a notoriously physical league. Neal is another talented youngster to have slipped through the grasps of London Irish after coming through their Academy.
The Newcastle Falcons Academy product has spent the last three seasons with Rotherham Titans in the Championship, where he has impressed enough to catch Wasps' attention. The 26-year-old is also able to cover the second row.
22-year-old Searle will be familiar to fans for his role in Bristol's 2016/17 Premiership campaign, while most recently backing up Irish international Ian Madigan. The fly-half will trade the Bears for the Wasps this summer, furthering his ambitions to secure regular Premiership rugby.
Director of rugby Dai Young said:
“We have taken a lot of care in scouting these five players and are very much looking forward to working with them when pre-season gets underway.
“All five are exciting prospects who have been stand-out performers in the Championship this season.
“While these signings may not be as immediately eye-catching as Lima Sopoaga or Brad Shields, in their own way they are every bit as important for our future.
“Finding and developing talent is a big part of building a successful club.
“The salary cap regulations mean you must operate with a blend of players to ensure you have a robust squad able to cope with international calls, injuries and the need to provide rest.
“We are working hard at building up our own academy base and as the performances of Jack Willis and Will Stuart in particular have shown, we are making encouraging progress.
“However, we must accept this will take time to reach full fruition following our relocation to the Midlands, so bringing in talented players with improvement potential is a key part of our strategy.
“Over the last few years we have signed Josh Bassett, Guy Thompson, Alex Rieder and Tom Cruse from clubs outside the Premiership, and they have all gone on to be valuable members of the squad.
“We are hoping these five are the next crop of unpolished diamonds who, with some help from our coaches and support staff, go on to find similar success.”
Wasps expect to make further announcements regarding their 2018/19 squad in the coming days.