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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 RFU 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
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)Franco van der Merwe, Blair Cowan, Dave Porecki, Stephen Myler
League(s)Premiership Rugby
2018–19 RFU ChampionshipChampions (promoted to Premiership)
Official website

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 retired at the end of the 2018-19 season having made 301 appearances for the club


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 standingsEdit

2019–20 Premiership Rugby Table view · watch · edit · discuss
Club Played Won Drawn Lost Points for Points against Points diff Tries for Tries against Try bonus Losing bonus Points
1 Bristol Bears 4 3 0 1 96 65 31 11 5 1 1 14
2 Northampton Saints 4 3 0 1 115 85 30 15 8 2 0 14
3 Sale Sharks 4 2 0 2 95 59 36 9 6 1 2 11
4 Gloucester 4 2 0 2 68 62 6 9 4 1 1 10
5 Exeter Chiefs 4 2 0 2 73 72 1 7 7 0 2 10
6 London Irish 4 2 0 2 85 94 -9 10 12 1 1 10
7 Worcester Warriors 4 2 0 2 79 89 -10 6 11 0 1 9
8 Bath 4 2 0 2 73 96 -23 6 13 0 0 8
9 Harlequins 4 1 0 3 77 98 -21 8 8 0 2 6
10 Wasps 4 1 0 3 83 104 -21 8 9 0 1 5
11 Leicester Tigers 4 1 0 3 53 97 -44 4 11 0 0 4
12 Saracens 4 3 0 1 86 62 24 8 7 0 1 -22 *[9][10]

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 2020–21 European Rugby Champions Cup.
Blue background (rows 5 & 6) indicates teams outside the play-off places, that earns a berth in the 2020–21 European Rugby Champions Cup based on their position in the table.
Plain background indicates teams that earn a place in the 2020–21 European Rugby Challenge Cup.
Red background (row 12) will be relegated, providing the champion of the 2019–20 RFU Championship are eligible for promotion.

(CH) Champions. (RU) Runners-up. (SF) Losing semi-finalists.

Starting table — source: Premiership Rugby

Club honoursEdit

London IrishEdit


Current squadEdit

The London Irish squad for the 2019-20 season is:[11]

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

Academy squadEdit

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
Sam Collingridge Lock   England
Ben Atkins Hooker   England
Ollie Hassell-Collins Centre   England
Player Position Union
Josh Smart Back row   England
Chunya Munga Lock   England
Phil Cokanasiga Centre   England

Club staffEdit

First Team Coaching


  • 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




Current kitEdit

The kit is currently supplied by BLK. 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 AmateurEdit

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.[13]



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.[14]

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.[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 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 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. 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. ^ "Saracens appeal against 35-point deduction and £5.36m fine for breaching salary cap rules". 5 November 2019.
  10. ^ "Saracens set to drop appeal against fine and points penalty for salary cap breach". 17 November 2019.
  11. ^ "First Team". London Irish. Retrieved 13 August 2018.
  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. Archived from the original on 14 June 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  15. ^ "Steven Orton is fundraising for Spinal Research – JustGiving". JustGiving. Retrieved 26 February 2010.

External linksEdit