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 played its home games at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, Berkshire for 20 years. However, at the end of the 2019–20 season they will move to Brentford Community Stadium in Brentford, West London. In the meantime, they will temporarily ground-share with Harlequins at the Twickenham Stoop.
|Full name||London Irish Rugby Football Club|
|Union||Middlesex RFU, Surrey RFU, Irish RFU|
|Location||Twickenham , Greater London, England|
|Ground(s)||Twickenham Stoop (temporary ground-share) (Capacity: 14,800)|
|Director of Rugby||Declan Kidney|
|2018–19 RFU Championship||Champions (promoted to Premiership)|
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. 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. The club's mascot is an Irish Wolfhound character called Digger.
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.
London Irish manages its own academy, with players such as Nick Kennedy, Topsy Ojo, Anthony Watson, 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
From the 2020–21 season, London Irish will play at the Brentford Community Stadium, in Brentford, Greater London. The stadium is the home of Brentford FC. The ground is a 17,250 all-seater capacity stadium. All London Irish home matches are generally played at Brentford.
The largest crowd for a London Irish match was for a game against London Wasps on 15 March 2008 during the 2007–08 season. The crowd of 23,790 was also the highest attendance for a regular season Premiership Rugby match until December 2008.
On 12 March 2016 London Irish played their first home Premiership match abroad, 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.
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. 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. This was later confirmed.
London Irish AmateurEdit
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.
Digger is an Irish Wolfhound and official mascot of London Irish. He has an important job in providing support to the Club.
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.
The kit is currently supplied by BLK. The 2019-20 green home kit is made from Exotek fabric and features gel grippers on the front and gripper tape at the seams. The jersey also features a sectioned crew neck, club colour detailing on the sleeve and a silicone gel finish on the club crest.
The club's principle sponsor Powerday, appears on the front centre on a broad red lined white stripe. Above this, the club's crest appears on the left chest and 9 Group on the right chest. Other club sponsors Pump Technology and Keltbray appear on the back. The playing shorts are plain featuring only the logo of the club and manufacturer.
The away kit is white and features a similar design with powerday appearing on a broad green stripe.
|League||Domestic Cup||Domestic Trophy||European Cup|
|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
- English Premiership
- Runners–Up: (1) 2008–09
- RFU Championship
- European Challenge Cup
- Runners–Up: (1) 2005–06
- Anglo–Welsh Cup
- Surrey Cup
- Champions: (4) 1980–81, 1981–82, 1985–86, 1986–87
- Premiership Rugby Sevens Series
- Champions: (1) 2012
Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
The London Irish academy squad is:
Note: Flags indicate national union as has been defined under WR eligibility rules. Players may hold more than one non-WR nationality.
First Team Coaching
- Director of Rugby: Declan Kidney
- Head coach: Les Kiss
- Assistant Coach Brad Davis
- Assistant Coach: Declan Danaher
- Assistant Coach: Jon Fisher
- Head of strength and conditioning: Robert Palmer
- 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 playersEdit
This list of "famous" or "notable" persons has no clear inclusion or exclusion criteria. Please help to define clear inclusion criteria and edit the list to contain only subjects that fit those criteria. (September 2019) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- Delon Armitage
- Steffon Armitage
- James Cantion
- Mike Catt
- Alex Corbisiero
- Declan Danaher
- Riki Flutey
- Shane Geraghty
- Jamie Gibson
- Paul Hodgson
- Jonathan Joseph
- Nick Kennedy
- Stephen Myler
- Topsy Ojo
- David Paice
- Peter Richards
- Paul Sackey
- Chris Sheasby
- George Skivington
- Dominic Waldouck
- Anthony Watson
- Marland Yarde
- Joe Cokanasiga
- Justin Bishop
- Barry Bresnihan
- Niall Brophy
- Paul Burke
- Kieran Campbell
- Bob Casey
- Paul Collins
- Victor Costello
- David Curtis
- Jeremy Davidson
- Jamie Hagan
- Kieron Dawson
- Barry Everitt
- Justin Fitzpatrick
- Neil Francis
- Gabriel Fulcher
- Simon Geoghegan
- Mike Gibson
- Gary Halpin
- Rob Henderson
- Niall Hogan
- Kenneth Houston
- Tyrone Howe
- David Humphreys
- Ken Kennedy
- Larry L'Estrange
- Mark McCall
- Aidan McCullen
- Mick Molloy
- Brendan Mullin
- John O'Driscoll
- Kevin O'Flanagan
- Malcolm O'Kelly
- Tomas O'Leary
- Tony O'Reilly
- Conor O'Shea
- Patrick Parfrey
- Brian Robinson
- Robin Roe
- Rob Saunders
- Dick Spring
- Jim Staples
- Jeremy Staunton
- Robin Thompson
- Niall Woods
- Daniel Leo
- Seilala Mapusua
- Setaimata Sa
- Elvis Seveali'i
- George Stowers
- Sailosi Tagicakibau
- Ofisa Treviranus
- Belgium Tuatagaloa
- The Exiles once took part in an episode of Jackass. They were given the job of teaching Johnny Knoxville and Chris Pontius how to play rugby, no matter how rough it got.
- 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.
- YouTube phenomenon KSI (entertainer) made videos with London Irish at Hazelwood with Rule'm Sports.
- "London Irish will play remainder of 2019/20 at The Stoop | 14th July 2020 | News". London Irish. 14 July 2020. Retrieved 14 July 2020.
- Palmer, Bryn (16 May 2009). "Leicester 10–9 London Irish". BBC News.
- "London Irish 15–21 Toulouse". BBC News. 26 April 2008.
- Club history –beginnings london-irish.com Retrieved 20 September 2015
- "No Luck on Paddy's Day for Irish". Guinness Premiership.com. Retrieved 16 March 2008.[permanent dead link]
- "London Irish Aviva Premiership Rugby match in USA". London Irish. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
- Hyde, Nathan. "London Irish could soon leave Madejski Stadium". Get Reading. Trinity Mirror Southern. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
- "Approval for rugby". Brentford Community Stadium. Retrieved 10 February 2017.
- "Back in Town — The Irish are Returning to London!". London Irish. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
-  Archived 15 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine
- "Digger Wins 'Best Mascot' Award". London Irish. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
- "Steven Orton is fundraising for Spinal Research – JustGiving". JustGiving. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
- https://www.epcrugby.com/challenge-cup/matches/pool-tables/. Missing or empty
- https://www.epcrugby.com/challenge-cup/matches/fixtures-and-results/. Missing or empty
- "London Irish confirm squad for remainder of 2019/20 season | 13th August 2020 | News". London Irish. 13 August 2020. Retrieved 13 August 2020.
- "Academy Players". London Irish. Retrieved 15 February 2020.