Irish Exiles (rugby union team)

The Irish Exiles is a rugby union representative team featuring players selected from the Irish diaspora, mainly though not exclusively based in Great Britain. The team was established in 1989 by Tom Kiernan. It was officially recognised by the Irish Rugby Football Union and during the 1990s was effectively a fifth provincial team along with Leinster, Ulster, Munster and Connacht. Between 1992 and 1993 and 1995–96 the Irish Exiles entered the IRFU Interprovincial Championship. The Irish Exiles also acts as an academy system for players from the Irish diaspora who wish to play for the men's national team and other IRFU national teams including the women's national team, the men's sevens team and the women's sevens team.

Irish Exiles
UnionIrish Rugby Football Union
League(s)IRFU Interprovincial Championship
Official website


Early yearsEdit

The Irish Exiles organisation was originally established by Tom Kiernan in 1989 following a meeting in London. The aim of the Irish Exiles was to give Irish diaspora players wishing to represent the Ireland national rugby union team the opportunity to play for a representative team. The Irish Exiles subsequently became a formal sub-committee of the Irish Rugby Football Union. Kiernan became the first chairman of the Exiles organisation. His successors included Barry O'Driscoll. The Exiles would eventually become a full branch of the IRFU.[1][2]

In addition to establishing a senior representative team, the Exiles also established under 21 and student teams. During their first two seasons the Exiles played friendlies against Ulster at Ravenhill and a Welsh Exiles XV. The first senior XV coach was Ken Kennedy. An under 21/student team also played the Ireland U21s at the London Irish ground in Sunbury-on-Thames. During the 1992–93 season an Irish Exiles XV also played an away friendly against the Basque Country national rugby union team.[1][3]

IRFU Interprovincial ChampionshipEdit

Between 1992 and 1993 and 1995–96 the Irish Exiles entered the IRFU Interprovincial Championship.[4][5][6] Before this Irish diaspora players, including Jim Staples, Simon Geoghegan and John O'Driscoll were usually invited to represent Connacht in the championship.[7] Staples and Geoghegan subsequently represented the Exiles and O'Driscoll coached the team. Other Ireland internationals to represent the Exiles in the championship included David Curtis, Gary Halpin and Rob Saunders. Mat Keenan, a Western Samoa international also played for the Exiles in the competition.[1]


The Irish Exiles operates as a scouting and recruitment programme for Irish diaspora players interested in playing for the Ireland national rugby union team, the Ireland women's national rugby union team, the Ireland national rugby sevens team and the Ireland women's national rugby sevens team.[1][8][9][10] In addition to producing nearly thirty Ireland men's internationals, the Exiles programme has also produced three British and Irish LionsSimon Easterby, Rob Henderson and Nick Popplewell. A number of Irish Exiles players have "slipped through the net" and have subsequently gone on to play for the England national rugby union team. These include Kieran Brookes, Paul Doran-Jones and Shane Geraghty.[1][11] Recent graduates of the programme include Sammy Arnold and Kieran Marmion.[12]

Women's teamEdit

The Irish Exiles also field a women's rugby union team. A number of prominent members of the Ireland women's national rugby union team have progressed through the Exiles programme. These include Sophie Spence and Claire Molloy.[1][13][14][15][16]

Notable former playersEdit

  British and Irish Lions
  Ireland internationals
  Ireland A internationals
  Ireland sevens internationals
  Ireland women internationals
  Ireland women sevens internationals
  England internationals
  England Saxons
  Western Samoa international


Notable former coachesEdit


Similar teamsEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "A Short History of the Exiles". Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  2. ^ "Gathering shamrock on foreign fields – How IRFU have become proactive about unearthing Ireland-qualified players". The Irish Independent. 21 September 2017. Retrieved 6 August 2018.
  3. ^ "Historial Selecciones Euskadi" (PDF). Retrieved 10 April 2016.
  4. ^ "Irish Rugby 1874–1999 – A History: Interprovincial Championship Results page 442". Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Irish Rugby 1874–1999 – A History: Interprovincial Championship Results page 443". Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  6. ^ "Irish Rugby 1874–1999 – A History: Interprovincial Championship Results page 444". Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  7. ^ "The 10 Best Connacht Players Ever To Play For Ireland". 16 February 2016. Retrieved 31 January 2018.
  8. ^ "About the Exiles". Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  9. ^ "Leinster v Irish Exiles – U18 Clubs Interprovincial Photos". 19 August 2015. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  10. ^ "Leinster v Exiles – U18 Clubs Friendly Photos". 25 August 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  11. ^ "Ireland's Fifth Province". 14 June 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  12. ^ "IRFU Exiles Screening Day". 4 October 2016. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  13. ^ a b "Ireland announce strong squad". 30 January 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  14. ^ a b "Correction: Ireland Women's Team to Play England". 8 February 2013. Retrieved 26 February 2018.
  15. ^ a b "Leinster Women v Exiles – Challenge Match Photos". 23 November 2012. Retrieved 8 August 2018.
  16. ^ a b "Leinster v Exiles – Women's Interprovincial Rugby Friendly Photos". 22 November 2013. Retrieved 8 August 2018.