London Irish

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London Irish
London Irish.svg
Full name London Irish Rugby Football Club
Nickname(s) The Exiles
Founded 1898; 116 years ago (1898)
Location Reading, Berkshire, England
Ground(s) Madejski Stadium (Capacity: 24,161[1])
Chairman Andrew Coppel
Coach(es) Australia Brian Smith
England Richard Whiffin (backs)
New Zealand Glenn Delaney (forwards)
Captain(s) England Declan Danaher
League(s) Aviva Premiership
2012–13 9th
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

London Irish RFC is an English rugby union club based in Sunbury, Surrey, where the senior squad train, the youth teams and senior academy play home games, and the club maintain their administrative offices. The club competes in the top division of English rugby union, the Aviva Premiership. The club also compete in the Anglo-Welsh Cup as well as one of the two Europe-wide club competitions—the Heineken Cup or European Challenge Cup, depending on their performance in the previous season. The club will continue to play their home games at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, Berkshire until 2026.

The team plays in green and white colours, with a reversed away strip. London Irish won its first major trophy in 2002, claiming the Powergen Cup (the competition that later became the Anglo-Welsh Cup). Irish also reached the final of the 2009 Guinness Premiership, narrowly losing 10–9 to Leicester Tigers at Twickenham Stadium.[2] 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.[3] The club's mascot is an Irish Wolfhound called Digger.


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.

Also known as The Exiles, London Irish RFC was founded in 1898 for the young Irishmen of London; it was modelled on the already established London Welsh and London Scottish teams. London Irish suffered during World War I and the Irish War of Independence. It was not until 1923 when the Irish Free State was established and peace returned that the club was able to welcome players from across the Irish Sea on a regular basis.

By the late 1920s the club boasted its first "home grown" Ireland international in S J 'Cags' Cagney who won 13 caps between 1925 and 1929. The club developed a home of its own in 1931 at The Avenue in Sunbury, the first game was played on 5 December against London Welsh; the result was an honourable 8–8 draw. Although the club now play their games as tenants of Reading FC at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, the ground at Sunbury is still its spiritual home.

The 1950s was a period of mixed fortunes for London Irish. In the 1959–60 season London Irish only lost 2 games all season, featuring Ireland International players such as Andy Mulligan & Sean McDermott, Mike (C.M.H.) Gibson (played 1 game in the late 1960s), Tony O'Reilly (who played a handful of games in 1970) and Ollie Waldron (who played in the late 1960s-early 70s), all graced the Sunbury pitch.

The improving quality of fixtures demanded a change in attitude to training and playing as the sixties became the seventies. Under the leadership of the great hooker Ken Kennedy, with the assistance of exceptional players like Nick Hegarty, Mick Molloy and Barry Bresnihan, London Irish became a force to be reckoned with once more. In 1976–77 the Rugby Football Union introduced proper club merit tables and in that season London Irish finished first in the London Division with six wins out of seven. The Irish made visits to France and famously to South Africa in 1977 where the club became the first touring side to play so many mixed race teams.

In playing terms the eighties were another period of inconsistency. The first team struggled to find reliable form as work pressures made more demands on players' time making them unavailable for regular training and matches. Happily, at the lower levels and socially London Irish continued to thrive. In 1990–91 London Irish were promoted to the first division with a side containing four new Ireland internationals: Simon Geoghegan, Jim Staples, David Curtis and Rob Saunders, the youngest ever captain of his country at 22 years of age.

The harsh financial realities of playing at the top end of the game in England gradually became clear to all the country's senior clubs including London Irish in the early years of the decade. Operating losses mounted and but for the generosity of key benefactors at the time, the club would have struggled to survive. The financial struggles were reflected on the pitch where London Irish failed to make any impact in the leagues despite employing the services of a number of high profile coaches.

In 1999 London Irish merged with London Scottish and Richmond to form a new umbrella company to support the professional team which now competes in the Aviva Premiership in England. An amateur club was also formed at this time, London Irish Amateur RFC, which remains in Sunbury. The club won its first piece of silverware in 2002 by beating Northampton Saints in the Powergen Cup final at Twickenham.


London Irish have a thriving academy set up, with players such as Nick Kennedy, Topsy Ojo and Delon Armitage having gone on to play for the senior side and be internationally capped.


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.

All London Irish home matches are 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.

Current standing[edit]

2013–14 Aviva Premiership Table watch · edit · discuss
Club Played Won Drawn Lost Points For Points Against Points Difference Tries For Tries Against Try Bonus Losing Bonus Points
1 Saracens 19 17 0 2 535 284 251 56 30 8 0 76
2 Northampton Saints 19 14 1 4 475 297 178 55 25 5 3 66
3 Bath 20 14 1 5 460 350 110 46 36 3 3 64
4 Leicester Tigers 20 13 2 5 469 381 88 49 33 6 2 64
5 Harlequins 20 13 0 7 388 320 68 37 30 3 3 58
6 Sale Sharks 20 12 0 8 390 335 55 41 31 2 6 56
7 London Wasps 20 8 0 12 394 421 -27 40 40 2 10 44
8 Exeter Chiefs 20 8 0 12 374 437 -63 35 46 2 6 40
9 Gloucester 20 7 0 13 375 481 -106 37 53 2 7 37
10 London Irish 19 6 0 13 323 402 -79 30 37 1 6 31
11 Newcastle Falcons 19 3 0 16 212 454 -242 15 51 1 6 19
12 Worcester Warriors 20 1 0 19 277 510 -233 25 54 1 7 12
  • If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:
  1. Number of matches won
  2. Difference between points for and against
  3. Total number of points for
  4. Aggregate number of points scored in matches between tied teams
  5. Number of matches won excluding the first match, then the second and so on until the tie is settled
Green background (rows 1 to 4) are play-off places. The top six teams qualify directly for the 2014-15 Rugby Champions Cup; the seventh-placed team advances to a play-off against the seventh-placed team in Top 14 for a Champions Cup place. Red background (row 12) will be relegated if the winner of the RFU Championship meets the requirements for promotion. Updated 14 April 2014 — source: Premiership Rugby

Current squad[edit]

2013/14 Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under IRB eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-IRB nationality.

Player Position Union
Michael Mayhew Hooker New Zealand New Zealand
Jimmy Stevens Hooker England England
David Paice Hooker England England
Halani Aulika Prop Tonga Tonga
Jamie Hagan Prop Ireland Ireland
Jonny Harris Prop England England
Leo Halavatau Prop Tonga Tonga
Matt Parr Prop England England
CJ van der Linde Prop South Africa South Africa
John Yapp Prop Wales Wales
Bryn Evans Lock New Zealand New Zealand
Kieran Low Lock Scotland Scotland
Nic Rouse Lock England England
George Skivington Lock England England
Ian Gough Lock Wales Wales
Declan Danaher Flanker England England
Jebb Sinclair Flanker Canada Canada
Ofisa Treviranus Flanker Samoa Samoa
Jon Fisher Number 8 England England
Chris Hala'ufia Number 8 Tonga Tonga
Blair Cowan Number 8 Scotland Scotland
Player Position Union
Darren Allinson Scrum-half Wales Wales
Patrick Phibbs Scrum-half Australia Australia
Tomás O'Leary Scrum-half Ireland Ireland
Ian Humphreys Fly-half Ireland Ireland
Myles Dorrian Fly-half Australia Australia
Shane Geraghty Fly-half England England
Guy Armitage Centre England England
Fergus Mulchrone Centre Ireland Ireland
Eamonn Sheridan Centre Ireland Ireland
Setaimata Sa Centre Samoa Samoa
Topsy Ojo Wing England England
Alex Lewington Wing England England
Sailosi Tagicakibau Wing Samoa Samoa
Marland Yarde Wing England England
Andy Fenby Wing Wales Wales
Tom Homer Fullback England England
James O'Connor Fullback Australia Australia



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

Player Position Union
Gerard Ellis Hooker Wales Wales
Justin Oro-Campos Hooker England England
Richard Palframan Prop South Africa South Africa
Tom Smallbone Prop England England
Charlie Davey Lock England England
John Quill Flanker United States United States
Scott Moore Flanker England England
Sean O'Connell Number 8 Ireland Ireland
Player Position Union
Ed Hoadley Scrum-half England England
Tom Fowlie Centre England England
Ian Cross Centre Ireland Ireland
George Berthonneau Wing England England
George Owen Wing England England

Transfers 2014-15[edit]

Players In[edit]

Players Out[edit]

Notable former players[edit]


London Irish Amateur[edit]

London Irish Amateur
London Irish Amateur.jpg
Full name London Irish Amateur Rugby Football Club
Union RFU
Nickname(s) The Wild Geese[20]
Founded September 1999; 14 years ago (1999-09)[21]
Location Sunbury-on-Thames, England
Ground(s) The Avenue
Chairman David Fitzgerald
President John Walsh
Captain(s) Eddie Fraher
League(s) National League 2 South
2012–13 1st (promoted)
Official website

London Irish also host London Irish Amateur RFC (a separate legal entity) for non-professionals to allow them to improve in Rugby. The team play at the location of London Irish's training ground and offices, The Avenue in Sunbury. Some players such as Justin Bishop and Kieran Campbell have come through the ranks to play for London Irish.[22]

Current standings[edit]

2013–14 National League 2 South Table watch · edit · discuss
Club Played Won Drawn Lost Points For Points Against Points Difference Try Bonus Losing Bonus Points
1 Hartpury College (C) 28 22 0 6 951 603 348 21 3 112
2 Canterbury 29 19 0 10 769 672 97 18 6 100
3 Ampthill & District 28 19 1 8 952 584 368 18 3 99
4 Bishop's Stortford 28 16 2 10 767 654 113 17 7 92
5 Cambridge 28 16 0 12 705 595 110 14 6 84
6 Clifton 29 17 0 12 696 690 6 10 3 81
7 Taunton Titans 29 16 1 12 737 691 46 9 6 81
8 Southend 28 14 0 14 670 684 –14 11 8 75
9 Shelford 29 13 2 14 640 648 –8 6 7 69
10 Redruth 29 12 1 16 621 740 –119 12 5 67
11 Dings Crusaders 29 11 0 18 648 733 –85 9 10 63
12 London Irish Wild Geese 28 11 0 17 707 741 –34 11 7 62
13 Chinnor 28 11 0 17 632 720 –88 7 9 60
14 Cornish All Blacks 28 13 0 15 562 701 –139 4 2 58
15 Bournemouth (R) 28 8 1 19 620 887 –267 9 5 48
16 Exmouth (R) 28 5 0 23 547 881 –334 6 7 33
  • If teams are level at any stage, tiebreakers are applied in the following order:
  1. Number of matches won
  2. Difference between points for and against
  3. Total number of points for
  4. Aggregate number of points scored in matches between tied teams
  5. Number of matches won excluding the first match, then the second and so on until the tie is settled
Green background is the promotion place. Blue background is the play-off place. Pink background are relegation places.
Updated: 12 April 2014
Source: RFU



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


On 30 May 2003 Digger won the "Best Mascot" award in the Zurich Premiership at the Premier Rugby Marketing Awards held at Twickenham.[23]

Charity work[edit]

On 23 April 2006, Digger ran the London Marathon raising money for Spinal Research. Digger finished the marathon in a time of 6 hours 39 minutes 31 seconds.[24]


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 although Digger remains the Top Dog. As well as the two mascots, there is also a real Wolfhound, Mr Doyle, who also attends the home games. Before Mr Doyle there was also another Wolfhound, Jumbo, before Jumbo retired.


  • A main character in the book, The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edward D Malone, a journalist, was also a player on the London Irish and scored a try.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Madejski Stadium information". Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Palmer, Bryn (16 May 2009). "Leicester 10–9 London Irish". BBC News. 
  3. ^ "London Irish 15–21 Toulouse". BBC News. 26 April 2008. 
  4. ^ "No Luck on Paddy's Day for Irish". Guinness Retrieved 16 March 2008. 
  5. ^ "London Irish unveil Academy squad for 2013–14". London Irish. Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  6. ^ "London Irish sign Lions and Irish prop Tom Court from Ulster". BBC Sport. 27 January 2014. 
  7. ^ "London Irish sign Harlequins back-row Tom Guest". BBC Sport. 13 February 2014. 
  8. ^ "London Irish sign Connacht centre Eoin Griffin". Sky Sports. 19 February 2014. 
  9. ^ "London Irish have signed England international forward Luke Narraway from USA Perpignan". Sky Sports. 26 February 2014. 
  10. ^ "London Irish sign winger James Short from Saracens". BBC Sport. 19 March 2014. 
  11. ^ "London Irish sign Scotland prop Geoff Cross from Edinburgh Rugby". BBC Sport. 25 March 2014. 
  12. ^ "London Irish sign Edinburgh lock Sean Cox for next season". BBC Sport. 2 April 2014. 
  13. ^ "London Irish sign Samoan lock Dan Leo from USA Perpignan". BBC Sport. 8 April 2014. 
  14. ^ "London Irish sign Leicester scrum-half Scott Steele and Leinster flanker Conor Gilsenan". BBC Sport. 9 April 2014. 
  15. ^ "Harlequins sign London Irish and England winger Marland Yarde". BBC Sport. 30 January 2014. 
  16. ^ "Australian full back James O'Connor leaves London Irish for top French side Toulon". BBC Sport. 6 February 2014. 
  17. ^ "Samoan winger Sailosi Tagicakibau swaps London Irish for the Stormers". Sky Sports. 27 February 2014. 
  18. ^ "London Irish stalwart Declan Danaher retirement". BBC Sport. 20 March 2014. 
  19. ^ "Wales veteran Ian Gough returns to the Newport Gwent Dragons". Wales Online. 1 April 2014. 
  20. ^ "Wild Geese on brink of the title". Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  21. ^ "About Us". Retrieved 11 April 2010. 
  22. ^ [1][dead link]
  23. ^ "Digger Wins 'Best Mascot' Award". London Irish. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  24. ^ "Steven Orton is fundraising for Spinal Research – JustGiving". Just Giving. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 

External links[edit]