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London Irish

London Irish
London Irish.svg
Full nameLondon Irish Rugby Football Club
UnionMiddlesex RFU, Surrey RFU, Irish RFU
Nickname(s)The Exiles
Founded1898; 122 years ago (1898)
LocationReading, Berkshire, England
Ground(s)Madejski Stadium (Capacity: 24,161)
ChairmanKieran McCarthy
CEOBrian Facer
Director of RugbyDeclan Kidney
Coach(es)Les Kiss
Captain(s)Franco van der Merwe, Blair Cowan, Dave Porecki, Stephen Myler
League(s)Premiership Rugby
2018–19 RFU ChampionshipChampions (promoted to Premiership)
Official website
www.london-irish.com

London Irish RFC is a professional English rugby union club, with an Irish Identity. It was originally based in Sunbury, Surrey, where the senior squad train, youth teams and senior academy play home games, and the club maintain their administrative offices, at Hazelwood Drive. It has competed in the Premiership, the top division of English rugby union, every season since its inception in 1996–97, apart from the 2016–17 and 2018–19 seasons, in which the club competed in the RFU Championship, winning the league both times. The club also competed in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, until the tournament's demise in 2018, and has participated in both the European Champions Cup and European Challenge Cup. While playing in the Championship, in 2016–17 and 2018–19, Irish also played in the British and Irish Cup and its successor the RFU Championship Cup respectively. The club currently plays its home games at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, Berkshire. However, at the end of the 2019–20 season they will move to Brentford Community Stadium in Brentford, West London.

London Irish won its first major trophy in 2002, claiming the Powergen Cup (the competition that is now the Premiership Rugby Cup). Irish also reached the final of the 2009 English Premiership, narrowly losing 10–9 to Leicester Tigers at Twickenham Stadium.[1] In the 2007–08 season the team came close to a place in the Heineken Cup Final, losing out to Stade Toulousain 15–21 in a tense semi-final encounter at Twickenham Stadium.[2] The club's mascot is an Irish Wolfhound character called Digger.

History

The squad that played Racing Métro 92 at Parc des Princes in 1899.
London Irish playing at the Madejski Stadium with 22,648 people in attendance.
A match v Ulster in 2006.
London Irish's line out against Leicester Tigers.
London Irish drummers and fans at the Madejski Stadium.

London Irish was the last club to be formed in England by working and student exiles from the home countries, following London Scottish in 1878 and London Welsh in 1885. The first game took place on 1 October 1898 against the former Hammersmith club at Herne Hill Athletic Ground, with London Irish winning 8–3. The team that season benefited from the early recruitment of vet and Irish international Louis Magee.[3]

Academy

London Irish manages its own academy, with players such as Nick Kennedy, Topsy Ojo, Delon Armitage and Jonathan Joseph having gone on to play for the senior side and be internationally capped. Ojo retired at the end of the 2018–19 season having made 301 appearances for the club

Stadium

London Irish play at the Madejski Stadium, in Reading. Madejski is the home of Reading FC and was opened in August 1998. The ground is a 24,161 all-seater capacity stadium, and was the largest used as a regular home ground in the Premiership before Wasps moved to the Ricoh Arena in 2014.

With the exception of the annual London Double Header at Twickenham, all London Irish home matches are generally played at the Madejski. The largest crowd for a London Irish match was for a game against London Wasps on 15 March 2008 during the 2007–08 Guinness Premiership. The crowd of 23,790 was also the highest attendance for a regular season Guinness Premiership match[4] until December 2008.

On 12 March 2016 London Irish played their first home Premiership match away from Madejski (and Twickenham), and also the first-ever Premiership match outside England, when they travelled to the USA to face Saracens at the New York Red Bulls' Red Bull Arena in the New York metropolitan area.[5]

On 15 August 2016, the club announced its intention to return to London and that it was in formal discussions with Hounslow London Borough Council to play at Brentford FC's new stadium.[6] On 10 February 2017, the club confirmed that the Council had approved its application to use the stadium for rugby, effectively allowing them to move into the new stadium from its opening season.[7] This was later confirmed.[8]

London Irish Amateur

London Irish Amateur logo.

The club also hosts London Irish Amateur RFC (a separate legal entity) for non-professionals to allow them to improve in Rugby. The team plays at the location of London Irish's training ground and offices, Hazelwood in Sunbury. Some players such as Justin Bishop and Kieran Campbell have gone through the ranks to play for London Irish professional team.[9]

Digger

Digger

Digger is an Irish Wolfhound and official mascot of London Irish. He has an important job in providing support to the Club.

On 30 May 2003 Digger won the "Best Mascot" award in Premiership Rugby at the Premier Rugby Marketing Awards.[10]

On 23 April 2006, Digger ran the London Marathon raising money for Spinal Research. He finished the marathon in a time of 6 hours 39 minutes 31 seconds.[11]

Colleagues

Digger was joined by his cousin, Duggie, from the 2006–07 season. Much taller and much slower, Duggie has proved popular with younger children attending matchdays. As well as the mascot characters, there is also a real Irish Wolfhound, Mr Doyle, who also attends the home games. Before Mr Doyle, his Great Uncle, Jumbo, attended home games before Jumbo retired and eventually died.

Current kit

The kit is currently supplied by BLK. The 2018-19 kits celebrates 120 years of Exiles by continuing the traditional dark green colour and retro collar design reintroduced last year. "Exiles from 1898" is also inscribed on the inside back collar and the London Irish emblem is on the left chest. The jersey also features an orange narrow striped design across the jersey.

The club's principle sponsor Powerday appears on the front centre, below XBlades' logo, with Thames Materials on the right chest. Other club sponsors Pump Technology and Keltbray appear on the back with Redrow Homes and Turmec Teoranta on the right sleeve. The playing shorts feature the logo of sponsors VGC Group and Cherwell Software in addition to the continued orange striped design.

The away kit is white with a two broad green striped design across the jersey.

Season summaries

League Domestic Cup Domestic Trophy European Cup
Season Competition Final Position Points Play-Offs Competition Performance Competition Performance Competition Performance
1987–88 Courage League Division 2 8th 24 N/A John Player Cup 3rd round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1988–89 Courage League Division 2 6th 12 N/A Pilkington Cup 4th round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1989–90 Courage League Division 2 5th 12 N/A Pilkington Cup 2nd round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1990–91 Courage League Division 2 2nd (P) 19 N/A Pilkington Cup Quarter-final No competition N/A No competition N/A
1991–92 Courage League Division 1 9th 9 N/A Pilkington Cup 3rd round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1992–93 Courage League Division 1 7th 12 N/A Pilkington Cup 3rd round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1993–94 Courage League Division 1 9th (R) 8 N/A Pilkington Cup 5th round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1994–95 Courage League Division 2 5th 18 N/A Pilkington Cup 5th round No competition N/A No competition N/A
1995–96 Courage League Division 2 2nd (P) 30 N/A Pilkington Cup Semi-final No competition N/A No English teams N/A
1996–97 Courage League Division 1 10th 12 N/A Pilkington Cup 4th round No competition N/A Challenge Cup 6th in pool
1997–98 Allied Dunbar Premiership 11th 12 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Quarter-final C&G Cup Not known Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
1998–99 Allied Dunbar Premiership 7th 30 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Quarter-final C&G Cup Not known No English teams N/A
1999–00 Allied Dunbar Premiership 8th 25 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Semi-final No competition N/A Challenge Cup Semi-final
2000–01 Zurich Premiership 8th 45 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Quarter-final No competition N/A Challenge Cup 1st in pool*
2001–02 Zurich Premiership 4th 57 N/A Powergen Cup Champions Powergen Shield Not eligible Challenge Cup Semi-final
2002–03 Zurich Premiership 9th 40 - Powergen Cup Semi-final Powergen Shield Not eligible Heineken Cup 2nd in pool
2003–04 Zurich Premiership 8th 49 - Powergen Cup Quarter-final Powergen Shield Not eligible Challenge Cup 2nd round
2004–05 Zurich Premiership 10th 40 - Powergen Cup Semi-final Powergen Shield Not eligible Challenge Cup 2nd round
2005–06 Guinness Premiership 3rd 66 Semi-final Powergen Cup 3rd in pool EDF Energy Trophy Not eligible Challenge Cup Runners-up
2006–07 Guinness Premiership 6th 53 - EDF Energy Cup 2nd in pool EDF Energy Trophy Not eligible Heineken Cup 4th in pool
2007–08 Guinness Premiership 7th 59 - EDF Energy Cup 3rd in pool EDF Energy Trophy Not eligible Heineken Cup Semi-final
2008–09 Guinness Premiership 3rd 66 Runners-up EDF Energy Cup 2nd in pool EDF Energy Trophy Not eligible Challenge Cup Quarter-final
2009–10 Guinness Premiership 6th 52 - LV= Cup 3rd in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Heineken Cup 3rd in pool
2010–11 Aviva Premiership 6th 54 - LV= Cup 3rd in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Heineken Cup 4th in pool
2011–12 Aviva Premiership 7th 46 - LV= Cup 2nd in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Heineken Cup 4th in pool
2012–13 Aviva Premiership 9th 35 - LV= Cup 2nd in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
2013–14 Aviva Premiership 10th 36 - LV= Cup 3rd in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
2014–15 Aviva Premiership 10th 40 - LV= Cup 4th in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Challenge Cup Quarter-final
2015–16 Aviva Premiership 12th (R) 20 - No competition N/A British and Irish Cup Not eligible Challenge Cup Quarter-final
2016–17 RFU Championship 1st (P) 91 Champions Anglo-Welsh Cup Not eligible British and Irish Cup Semi-final Not qualified N/A
2017–18 Aviva Premiership 12th (R) 22 - Anglo-Welsh Cup 2nd in pool British and Irish Cup Not eligible Challenge Cup 3rd in pool
2018–19 RFU Championship 1st (P) 99 - Premiership Cup Not eligible Championship Cup Runners-up Not qualified N/A

Gold background denotes champions
Silver background denotes runners-up
Pink background denotes relegated

* Finished first in pool but did not progress to the quarter-final. Their place was taken by Brive[12][13]

Club honours

London Irish

Friendly

Current squad

The London Irish squad for the 2019–20 season is:[14]

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Saia Fainga'a Hooker Australia Australia
Motu Matu'u Hooker Samoa Samoa
Dave Porecki Hooker Australia Australia
Lovejoy Chawatama Prop Zimbabwe Zimbabwe
Pat Cilliers Prop South Africa South Africa
Allan Dell Prop Scotland Scotland
Harry Elrington Prop England England
Will Goodrick-Clarke Prop England England
Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi Prop England England
Ollie Hoskins Prop Australia Australia
Sekope Kepu Prop Australia Australia
Ruan Botha Lock South Africa South Africa
Adam Coleman Lock Australia Australia
Barney Maddison Lock England England
Franco van der Merwe Lock South Africa South Africa
George Nott Lock England England
Jack Cooke Back row England England
Blair Cowan Back row Scotland Scotland
Isaac Curtis-Harris Back row England England
Conor Gilsenan Back row Ireland Ireland
TJ Ioane Back row Samoa Samoa
Steve Mafi Back row Tonga Tonga
Max Northcote-Green Back row England England
Seán O'Brien Back row Ireland Ireland
Matt Rogerson Back row England England
Albert Tuisue Back row Fiji Fiji
Player Position Union
Rory Brand Scrum-half England England
Ben Meehan Scrum-half Australia Australia
Nick Phipps Scrum-half Australia Australia
Scott Steele Scrum-half Scotland Scotland
Jacob Atkins Fly-half England England
Theo Brophy-Clews Fly-half England England
Paddy Jackson Fly-half Ireland Ireland
Stephen Myler Fly-half England England
Bryce Campbell Centre United States United States
Tom Fowlie Centre England England
Terrence Hepetema Centre New Zealand New Zealand
Brendan Macken Centre Ireland Ireland
Curtis Rona Centre Australia Australia
Tom Stephenson Centre England England
Matt Williams Centre England England
Ben Loader Wing England England
Waisake Naholo Wing New Zealand New Zealand
Tom Parton Fullback England England
James Stokes Fullback England England
Alivereti Veitokani Fullback Fiji Fiji

Academy squad

The London Irish academy squad is:[15]

Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.

Player Position Union
Ben Atkins Hooker England England
Luke Green Prop England England
Sam Collingridge Lock England England
Chunya Munga Lock England England
Jack Belcher Back row England England
Ben Donnell Back row England England
Izaiha Moore-Aiono Back row England England
Finlay Rossiter Back row England England
Josh Smart Back row England England
Player Position Union
Caolan Englefield Scrum-half Ireland Ireland
Phil Cokanasiga Centre England England
Ollie Hassell-Collins Wing England England
Wil Partington Fullback England England

Club staff

First Team Coaching

Academy

  • Academy Manager: Patrick O'Grady
  • Academy Backs Coach: James Lightfoot-Brown
  • Academy Forwards Coach: Jon Fisher
  • AASE Manager: Richard Pryor
  • Assistant Academy strength and conditioning coach: Alex Dreghorn

Notable former players

English

Irish

Other

Trivia

See also

References

  1. ^ Palmer, Bryn (16 May 2009). "Leicester 10–9 London Irish". BBC News.
  2. ^ "London Irish 15–21 Toulouse". BBC News. 26 April 2008.
  3. ^ Club history –beginnings london-irish.com Retrieved 20 September 2015
  4. ^ "No Luck on Paddy's Day for Irish". Guinness Premiership.com. Retrieved 16 March 2008.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ "London Irish Aviva Premiership Rugby match in USA". London Irish. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  6. ^ Hyde, Nathan. "London Irish could soon leave Madejski Stadium". Get Reading. Trinity Mirror Southern. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  7. ^ "Approval for rugby". Brentford Community Stadium. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
  8. ^ "Back in Town — The Irish are Returning to London!". London Irish. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  9. ^ [1] Archived 15 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Digger Wins 'Best Mascot' Award". London Irish. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  11. ^ "Steven Orton is fundraising for Spinal Research – JustGiving". JustGiving. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  12. ^ [www.epcrugby.com]. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  13. ^ [www.epcrugby.com]. Missing or empty |title= (help)
  14. ^ "First Team". London Irish. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  15. ^ "Academy Players". London Irish. Retrieved 15 February 2020.

External links