London Irish

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London Irish
London Irish.svg
Full nameLondon Irish Rugby Football Club
UnionMiddlesex RFU, Surrey RFU
Nickname(s)The Exiles
Founded1898; 121 years ago (1898)
LocationReading, Berkshire, England
Ground(s)Madejski Stadium (Capacity: 24,161)
ChairmanKieran McCarthy
CEOBrian Facer
Director of RugbyDeclan Kidney
Captain(s)Josh McNally
League(s)RFU Championship
2018–19 RFU ChampionshipChampions (promoted to Premiership)
Official website

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 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 they competed in the Greene King IPA Championship; winning the league in 2017 and 2019. The club also competed in the Anglo-Welsh Cup, until its 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 2019/2020 season they will move to Brentford Community Stadium.

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.[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.


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 benefitted from the early recruitment of vet and Irish international Louis Magee.[3]


London Irish manage their 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 still plays for the club in the current season, though Kennedy, Armitage and Joseph moved on.


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]

Current standings[edit]

2018–19 RFU Championship Table watch · edit · discuss
Club Played Won Drawn Lost Points for Points against Points diff Try bonus Loss bonus Points
C London Irish 22 20 0 2 835 340 495 18 1 99
2 Ealing Trailfinders 22 17 0 5 733 503 230 16 2 86
3 Bedford Blues 22 13 0 9 632 603 29 11 6 69
4 Jersey Reds 22 12 0 10 554 442 112 9 6 63
5 Cornish Pirates 22 10 0 12 556 507 49 12 7 59
6 Yorkshire Carnegie 22 11 0 11 475 549 -74 8 3 55
7 Nottingham 22 10 1 11 508 597 -89 7 3 52
8 Coventry 22 9 1 12 497 637 -140 7 6 51
9 London Scottish 22 8 0 14 468 616 -148 7 4 43
10 Doncaster Knights 22 8 0 14 546 617 -71 6 4 42
11 Hartpury College 22 7 0 15 415 634 -219 4 4 36
R Richmond 22 6 0 16 430 604 -174 4 5 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. Pink background is the relegation place.
Updated: 21 April 2019
Source: "Greene King IPA Championship". England Rugby.

Club honours[edit]

London Irish[edit]


Current squad[edit]

The London Irish squad for the 2019-20 season is:[9]

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

Academy squad[edit]

The London Irish academy squad is:[10]

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
Player Position Union
Ollie Hassell-Collins Centre England England

Club staff[edit]

First Team Coaching


  • Academy Manager: Patrick O'Grady
  • Junior academy coach: James Lightfoot-Brown
  • Academy forwards coach: Richard Pryor
  • Assistant academy strength and conditioning coach: Alex Dreghorn

Notable former players[edit]

Current kit[edit]

The kit is currently supplied by XBlades. 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.

London Irish Amateur[edit]

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.[11]



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.[12]

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.[13]


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.


See also[edit]


  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 Retrieved 20 September 2015
  4. ^ "No Luck on Paddy's Day for Irish". Guinness 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. ^ "First Team". London Irish. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Academy Players". London Irish. Retrieved 29 August 2017.
  11. ^ [1] Archived 15 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  12. ^ "Digger Wins 'Best Mascot' Award". London Irish. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  13. ^ "Steven Orton is fundraising for Spinal Research – JustGiving". JustGiving. Retrieved 26 February 2010.

External links[edit]