London Irish has fought off considerable competition to sign England U20’s number 8, Alex Gray, on a two-year-contract from Newcastle Falcons.Alex is a product of the Newcastle Falcons Academy, the club he joined after he finished his studies at Barnard Castle School. He made 13 appearances for Newcastle, scoring a try on his Aviva Premiership debut against Harlequins at Kingston Park in March of last season. Standing 6”5’ and weighing 16 and a half stone, Alex has captained England to Grand Slams at Under 16’s, Under 18’s and Under 20’s level. Most recently Alex led England U20’s to second place in the Junior World Championships where they lost narrowly in the final to New Zealand 33-22. Overall, he started nine of the ten matches last season for England U20’s, coming off the bench in the other game, scoring seven tries. Number 8 is Alex’s primary position but he can also play openside flanker. He is the second back row signing to join London Irish in a matter of weeks following Canadian international Jebb Sinclair’s signature.Commenting on his decision to join London Irish, Alex Gray said: “I am very pleased to be joining London Irish. They play an exciting brand of rugby that I look forward to becoming a part of. Playing age grade rugby with Jonathan Joseph, Kieran Low and Guy Armitage they have always spoken very highly of the set up at Irish so with that in mind I’m very much looking forward to joining up with the rest of the squad ahead of the 2011/12 season. I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Newcastle Falcons and wish the club all the best for the future.”London Irish head coach Toby Booth said: “Alex is a player that we have kept a close eye on for a couple of years now. He is an exceptional athlete and has an impressive array of skills for a back row forward. He is continuously striving to improve as a player and has leadership skills beyond his years. He will be a great asset to London Irish.”Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.