London Irish

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London Irish
London Irish.svg
Full name London Irish Rugby Football Club
Union RFU, Middlesex RFU, Surrey RFU, Irish RFU
Nickname(s) The Exiles
Founded 1898; 119 years ago (1898)
Location Reading, Berkshire, England
Ground(s) Madejski Stadium (Capacity: 24,161[1])
Chairman Kieran McCarthy
CEO Brian Facer (incoming)
President Michael Crossan
Director of Rugby Nick Kennedy
Captain(s) David Paice
League(s) Aviva Premiership
2016–17 Championship, 1st (promoted)
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

London Irish RFC is an 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. 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 season, in which it won the Greene King IPA Championship. The club also competes in the Anglo-Welsh Cup and has participated in both the European Champions Cup or European Challenge Cup. In 2016 it played in the British and Irish Cup in addition to the Championship. The club will play its home games at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, Berkshire until at least 2019.

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 English 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.

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, London Irish winning by eight points to three. The team benefited from the early recruitment of vet and Irish international Louis Magee.[4]


London Irish manage their own academy, with players such as Nick Kennedy, Jonathan Joseph, 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 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 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[5] until December 2008.

On 12 March 2016 London Irish played their first home 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.[6]

The club announced on 15 August 2016 of their intention to return to London and that they were in formal discussion with Hounslow London Borough Council to play at Brentford FC's new stadium.[7] On 10 February 2017 the club confirmed that Brentford had approved their application to use the stadium for rugby effectively allowing them to move into the new stadium from its opening season.[8]

Current standings[edit]

2017–18 Aviva Premiership Table watch · edit · discuss
Club Played Won Drawn Lost Points for Points against Points diff Tries for Tries against Try bonus Losing bonus Points
1 Saracens 6 5 0 1 209 97 112 25 12 3 0 23
2 Exeter Chiefs 6 4 0 2 177 106 71 23 14 4 2 22
3 Northampton Saints 6 4 0 2 166 148 18 23 21 3 1 20
4 Newcastle Falcons 6 4 0 2 141 132 9 15 9 4 0 20
5 Bath 6 4 0 2 150 123 27 15 16 2 1 19
6 Leicester Tigers 6 4 0 2 137 129 8 15 14 0 1 17
7 Harlequins 6 3 0 3 173 164 9 20 19 2 1 15
8 Gloucester 6 3 0 3 118 173 −55 16 22 2 0 14
9 Sale Sharks 6 2 0 4 179 163 16 24 20 4 1 13
10 Wasps 6 2 0 4 140 163 −23 17 18 1 1 10
11 London Irish 6 1 0 5 122 199 −77 14 27 1 1 6
12 Worcester Warriors 6 0 0 6 63 178 −115 7 23 0 1 1

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 and earns a berth in the 2018–19 European Rugby Champions Cup.
Blue background (rows 5 & 6) indicates teams outside the play-off places, that earns a berth in the 2018–19 European Rugby Champions Cup.
Yellow background indicates the team that advances to a play-off for a chance to compete in the 2018–19 European Rugby Champions Cup.
Plain background indicates teams that earn a place in the 2018–19 European Rugby Challenge Cup.
Red background (row 12) will be relegated, providing the 2017–18 RFU Championship champions are eligible for promotion.
Starting table — source: [2]

Current squad[edit]

The London Irish squad for the 2017–18 season is:[9][a]

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
Darren Dawidiuk [a] Hooker England England
Saia Fainga'a Hooker Australia Australia
Todd Gleave Hooker England England
David Paice Hooker England England
Tom Woolstencroft Hooker England England
Dave Porecki Hooker Australia Australia
Lovejoy Chawatama Prop England England
Petrus du Plessis Prop South Africa South Africa
Harry Elrington Prop England England
Ben Franks Prop New Zealand New Zealand
Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi Prop England England
Ollie Hoskins Prop Australia Australia
Richard Palframan Prop South Africa South Africa
Gordon Reid Prop Scotland Scotland
Manasa Saulo Prop Fiji Fiji
Tom Smallbone Prop England England
Sebastian de Chaves Lock South Africa South Africa
William Lloyd Lock New Zealand New Zealand
Josh McNally Lock England England
Filo Paulo Lock Samoa Samoa
Franco van der Merwe [a] Lock South Africa South Africa
Conor Gilsenan Flanker Ireland Ireland
Lasha Lomidze Flanker Georgia (country) Georgia
Max Northcote-Green Flanker England England
Senitiki Nayalo Flanker Fiji Fiji
Jake Schatz Flanker Australia Australia
Ofisa Treviranus Flanker Samoa Samoa
Mike Coman Number 8 New Zealand New Zealand
Blair Cowan Number 8 Scotland Scotland
Player Position Union
Brendan McKibbin Scrum-half Australia Australia
Ben Meehan Scrum-half Australia Australia
Scott Steele Scrum-half Scotland Scotland
Theo Brophy-Clews Fly-half England England
James Marshall Fly-half New Zealand New Zealand
Ciaran Hearn Centre Canada Canada
Fergus Mulchrone Centre England England
Asaeli Tikoirotuma Centre Fiji Fiji
Johnny Williams Centre England England
Joe Cokanasiga Wing England England
Tom Fowlie Wing England England
Alex Lewington Wing England England
Napolioni Nalaga Wing Fiji Fiji
Topsy Ojo Wing England England
Ben Ransom Wing England England
Tommy Bell Fullback England England
Luke McLean Fullback Italy Italy
Greig Tonks Fullback Scotland Scotland
  • Notes:
  1. ^ a b c New signings Darren Dawidiuk[10] and Franco van der Merwe[11] are not yet listed on the senior squad page.

Senior Academy squad[edit]

The London Irish academy squad is:[12]

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
Austin Hay Prop England England
Sam Collingridge Lock England England
Josh Basham Lock England England
Jack Cooke Flanker England England
Isaac Curtis-Harris Flanker England England
Player Position Union
Rory Brand Scrum-half England England
Jacob Atkins Fly-half England England
Tom Parton Fly-half England England
Ollie Hassell-Collins Centre England England
Matt Williams Centre England England
Ben Loader Fullback England England

Notable former players[edit]



Current kit[edit]

The kit is supplied by XBlades. The 2017-18 kits celebrates 120 years of Exiles by returning to a traditional dark green and retro collar design with 'Exiles from 1898' inscribed on the inside back collar and the London Irish emblem on the left chest. The jersey also features a white grid design covering the shoulders and progressing down both sides and continuing onto the shorts.

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 white grid design.

The away kit is a sky blue colour with a simpler two broad striped design on the shoulder of the jersey.


London Irish Amateur logo.

London Irish Amateur[edit]

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, Hazelwood in Sunbury. Some players such as Justin Bishop and Kieran Campbell have come through the ranks to play for London Irish.[13]



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

On 30 May 2003 Digger won the "Best Mascot" award in the English Premiership at the Premier Rugby Marketing Awards.[14]

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.[15]


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 Digger, 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.


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. ^ Club history –beginnings Retrieved 20 September 2015
  5. ^ "No Luck on Paddy's Day for Irish". Guinness Retrieved 16 March 2008. 
  6. ^ "London Irish Aviva Premiership Rugby match in USA". London Irish. Retrieved 27 October 2015. 
  7. ^ Hyde, Nathan. "London Irish could soon leave Madejski Stadium". Get Reading. Trinity Mirror Southern. Retrieved 15 August 2016. 
  8. ^ "Approval for rugby". Brentford Community Stadium. Retrieved 10 February 2017. 
  9. ^ "First Team". London Irish. Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  10. ^ "NEW SIGNING: London Irish sign Dawidiuk" (Press release). London Irish. 25 July 2017. Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  11. ^ "London Irish sign Springbok lock" (Press release). London Irish. 31 August 2017. Retrieved 1 September 2017. 
  12. ^ "Academy Players". London Irish. Retrieved 29 August 2017. 
  13. ^ [1] Archived 15 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  14. ^ "Digger Wins 'Best Mascot' Award". London Irish. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 
  15. ^ "Steven Orton is fundraising for Spinal Research – JustGiving". JustGiving. Retrieved 26 February 2010. 

External links[edit]