London Irish sign Alex Gray from Newcastle Falcons

Alex Gray
Gray (l) was captain of the England Junior World Championship side which lost in the final to New Zealand this year

London Irish have signed England Under-20 international Alex Gray on a two-year contract from Newcastle Falcons.

The 20-year-old, who was a product of the Newcastle Academy, made 13 appearances for the Falcons, scoring a try on his Premiership debut.

London Irish head coach Toby Booth said: "Alex is an exceptional athlete and has an impressive array of skills for a back-row forward.

"He is continuously striving to improve and will be a great asset."

Gray, who primarly plays at number eight but can also operate at openside flanker, captained England to Grand Slams at Under-16, Under-18 and Under-20 level and this year led England Under-20s to second place in the Junior World Championships.

"I am very pleased to be joining London Irish," Gray said.

"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.

"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."

However Newcastle head coach Alan Tait admitted he was disappointed to see the youngster depart, which follows fellow Academy players Kieran Brookes' and Micky Young's moves to Leicester in January.