London Irish

London Irish RFC is a professional English rugby union club, with an Irish identity. It was originally based in Sunbury, Middlesex, 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 and promotion 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, for the 2020–21 season they moved to Brentford Community Stadium in Brentford, west London.

London Irish
London Irish.svg
Full nameLondon Irish Rugby Football Club
UnionMiddlesex RFU, Surrey RFU, Irish RFU
Nickname(s)The Exiles
Founded1898; 123 years ago (1898)
LocationBrentford, Greater London, England
Ground(s)Brentford Community Stadium (Capacity: 17,250)
ChairmanKieran McCarthy
CEOMark Bensted OBE
PresidentMick Crossan
Director of RugbyDeclan Kidney
Coach(es)Les Kiss
Captain(s)Matt Rogerson
Most capsTopsy Ojo (300)
Top scorerBarry Everitt (1,234)
Most triesTopsy Ojo (46)
League(s)Premiership Rugby
Official website

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.[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 Club de France at Parc des Princes in 1899.

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.[3]


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


Brentford Community Stadium Under Construction.

Since the 2020–21 season, London Irish play at the Brentford Community Stadium, in Brentford, Greater London. The stadium is also the home of Brentford FC and was opened in 2020. The ground is a 17,250 all-seater capacity stadium. All London Irish home matches are generally played at Brentford.

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.

Prior to 2020, the club played at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, Berkshire for 20 seasons between 2000 and March 2020 when the 2019–20 season was suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.[4]

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.[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]

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.[9]



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.[10]

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.[11]


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.

Current kitEdit

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 principal 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.

London Irish recently announced a new elite partnership with Just Clear, an environmentally friendly British house clearance and rubbish removal service in readiness for new Premiership season. London Irish CEO, Mark Bensted, welcomed the arrival of a new partnership to the Club’s commercial portfolio, commenting: “I’m delighted Just Clear are joining the London Irish family". Such news potentially points to London Irish's consolidation of their Premiership status as they were relegated in the 2018-19 season. [12]

Season summariesEdit

League Domestic Cup European Cup
Season Competition Final Position Points Play-Offs Competition Performance Competition Performance
1987–88 Courage League Division 2 8th 24 N/A John Player Cup 3rd round No competition N/A
1988–89 Courage League Division 2 6th 12 N/A Pilkington Cup 4th round
1989–90 Courage League Division 2 5th 12 N/A Pilkington Cup 2nd round
1990–91 Courage League Division 2 2nd (P) 19 N/A Pilkington Cup Quarter-final
1991–92 Courage League Division 1 9th 9 N/A Pilkington Cup 3rd round
1992–93 Courage League Division 1 7th 12 N/A Pilkington Cup 3rd round
1993–94 Courage League Division 1 9th (R) 8 N/A Pilkington Cup 5th round
1994–95 Courage League Division 2 5th 18 N/A Pilkington Cup 5th round
1995–96 Courage League Division 2 2nd (P) 30 N/A Pilkington Cup Semi-final No English teams N/A
1996–97 Courage League Division 1 10th 12 N/A Pilkington Cup 4th round Challenge Cup 6th in pool
1997–98 Allied Dunbar Premiership 11th 12 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Quarter-final Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
1998–99 Allied Dunbar Premiership 7th 30 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Quarter-final No English teams N/A
1999–00 Allied Dunbar Premiership 8th 25 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Semi-final Challenge Cup Semi-final
2000–01 Zurich Premiership 8th 45 N/A Tetley's Bitter Cup Quarter-final Challenge Cup 1st in pool*
2001–02 Zurich Premiership 4th 57 N/A Powergen Cup Champions Challenge Cup Semi-final
2002–03 Zurich Premiership 9th 40 - Powergen Cup Semi-final Heineken Cup 2nd in pool
2003–04 Zurich Premiership 8th 49 - Powergen Cup Quarter-final Challenge Cup 2nd round
2004–05 Zurich Premiership 10th 40 - Powergen Cup Semi-final Challenge Cup 2nd round
2005–06 Guinness Premiership 3rd 66 Semi-final Powergen Cup 3rd in pool Challenge Cup Runners-up
2006–07 Guinness Premiership 6th 53 - EDF Energy Cup 2nd in pool Heineken Cup 4th in pool
2007–08 Guinness Premiership 7th 59 - EDF Energy Cup 3rd in pool Heineken Cup Semi-final
2008–09 Guinness Premiership 3rd 66 Runners-up EDF Energy Cup 2nd in pool Challenge Cup Quarter-final
2009–10 Guinness Premiership 6th 52 - LV= Cup 3rd in pool Heineken Cup 3rd in pool
2010–11 Aviva Premiership 6th 54 - LV= Cup 3rd in pool Heineken Cup 4th in pool
2011–12 Aviva Premiership 7th 46 - LV= Cup 2nd in pool Heineken Cup 4th in pool
2012–13 Aviva Premiership 9th 35 - LV= Cup 2nd in pool Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
2013–14 Aviva Premiership 10th 36 - LV= Cup 3rd in pool Challenge Cup 2nd in pool
2014–15 Aviva Premiership 10th 40 - LV= Cup 4th in pool Challenge Cup Quarter-final
2015–16 Aviva Premiership 12th (R) 20 - No competition N/A Challenge Cup Quarter-final
2016–17 Green King IPA Championship 1st (P) 91 Champions British and Irish Cup Semi-final Not qualified N/A
2017–18 Aviva Premiership 12th (R) 22 - Anglo-Welsh Cup 2nd in pool Challenge Cup 3rd in pool
2018–19 Green King IPA Championship 1st (P) 99 - Championship Cup Runners-up Not qualified N/A
2019–20 Gallagher Premiership 10th 34 - Premiership Cup 3rd in pool Challenge Cup 4th in pool
2020–21 Gallagher Premiership 9th 48 - No competition N/A Challenge Cup Quarter-final

Gold background denotes champions
Silver background denotes runners-up
Pink background denotes relegated

* Finished first in pool but did not progress to the quarter-final. Their place was taken by Brive[13][14]

Club honoursEdit


Current squadEdit

The London Irish squad for the 2021–22 season is:[15][a][b]

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
Ben Atkins Hooker   England
Matt Cornish Hooker   England
Agustín Creevy Hooker   Argentina
Reece Marshall [b] Hooker   England
Mike Willemse Hooker   South Africa
Ryan Bower [a] Prop   England
Lovejoy Chawatama Prop   England
Allan Dell Prop   Scotland
Jamie Dever [a] Prop   Ireland
Facundo Gigena Prop   Argentina
Will Goodrick-Clarke Prop   England
Ollie Hoskins Prop   Australia
Ciaran Parker Prop   England
Marcel van der Merwe Prop   South Africa
Adam Coleman Lock   Australia
George Nott Lock   Wales
Rob Simmons Lock   Australia
Jack Cooke Back row   Ireland
Olly Cracknell Back row   Wales
Isaac Curtis-Harris Back row   England
Ben Donnell Back row   England
Juan Martín González Back row   Argentina
Steve Mafi Back row   Tonga
Izaiha Moore-Aiono Back row   England
Seán O'Brien Back row   Ireland
Matt Rogerson (c) Back row   England
Albert Tuisue Back row   Fiji
Player Position Union
Rory Brand Scrum-half   Scotland
Caolan Englefield Scrum-half   Ireland
Hugh O'Sullivan Scrum-half   Ireland
Nick Phipps Scrum-half   Australia
Ben White Scrum-half   England
Jacob Atkins Fly-half   England
Paddy Jackson Fly-half   Ireland
Rory Jennings Fly-half   England
Phil Cokanasiga Centre   England
Terrence Hepetema Centre   New Zealand
Benhard Janse van Rensburg Centre   South Africa
Curtis Rona Centre   Australia
Matt Williams Centre   England
Lucio Cinti Wing   Argentina
Ollie Hassell-Collins Wing   England
Ben Loader Wing   England
Cillian Redmond Wing   Ireland
Tom Parton Fullback   England
Kyle Rowe Fullback   Scotland
James Stokes Fullback   England

Academy squadEdit

The London Irish academy squad is:[18]

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
George Davis Hooker   England
Calum Scott Hooker   England
Joe Vajner Hooker   England
Luke Green Prop   England
Tarek Haffar Prop   England
Mikey Summerfield Prop   England
Chunya Munga Lock   England
Lucas Brooke Back row   England
Tom Pearson Back row   England
Marcus Rhodes Back row   England
Josh Smart Back row   England
Player Position Union
Rory Morgan Scrum-half   England
Monty Bradbury Fly-half   England
Theo Smerdon Fly-half   England
William Joseph Centre   England
Jack Walsh Centre   England
Michael Dykes Wing   England
Alexander Harmes Wing   England
Henry Arundell Fullback   England
  1. ^ a b c London Irish signed props Ryan Bower and Jamie Dever on short-term deals from the start of the 2021–22 season.[16]
  2. ^ a b Northampton Saints hooker Reece Marshall is on a short-term loan at the club.[17]

Club staffEdit

First Team Coaching

  • Director of Rugby: Declan Kidney
  • Head coach: Les Kiss
  • Assistant Coach Brad Davis
  • Assistant Coach: Declan Danaher
  • Assistant Coach: Corniel van Zyl
  • Assistant Forwards Coach: Ross McMillan
  • Assistant Forwards Coach: Jon Fisher
  • Team Manager: Alex James
  • Assistant Team Manager: Will Crowley-Johnson
  • Head of Strength and Conditioning: Robert Palmer
  • Head of Analysis: James Molyneux
  • Senior Performance Analyst: Matt Carpenter
  • Senior Performance Analyst: Richard Green


  • Academy Manager: Patrick O'Grady
  • Academy Backs Coach: James Lightfoot-Brown
  • Academy Forwards Coach: Jon Fisher
  • AASE Manager: Richard Pryor
  • Academy Performance Analyst: Brendan O'Shea

Notable former playersEdit


  • 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.[citation needed]
  • 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.[citation needed]
  • YouTube phenomenon KSI made videos with London Irish at Hazelwood with Rule'm Sports.[citation needed]

See alsoEdit


  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. 27 October 2015. 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. 18 December 2018. Retrieved 18 December 2018.
  9. ^ [1] Archived 15 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ "Digger Wins 'Best Mascot' Award". London Irish. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  11. ^ "Steven Orton is fundraising for Spinal Research – JustGiving". JustGiving. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  12. ^ "Just Clear have joined London Irish as an Elite Partner". London Irish. 25 June 2021. Retrieved 28 June 2021.
  13. ^ "Challenge Cup | Pool Tables".
  14. ^ "Challenge Cup | Fixtures & Results".
  15. ^ "First Team - London Irish". London Irish. Retrieved 14 June 2021.
  16. ^ "Jamie Dever and Ryan Bower join London Irish on short-term deals". Talking Rugby Union. 25 August 2021. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  17. ^ "London Irish sign Northampton hooker Reece Marshall on loan". Talking Rugby Union. 8 December 2021. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  18. ^ "Academy Players". London Irish. Retrieved 15 February 2020.


External linksEdit