London Irish

For other uses, see London Irish (disambiguation).
London Irish
Full name London Irish Rugby Football Club
Nickname(s) The Exiles
Founded 1898 (1898)
Location Reading, Berkshire, England
Ground(s) Madejski Stadium (Capacity: 24,161[1])
Chairman Kieran McCarthy
CEO Bob Casey
President Michael Crossan
Director of Rugby Nick Kennedy
Captain(s) Luke Narraway
League(s) Greene King IPA Championship
2015–16 Premiership, 12th (relegated)
1st kit
2nd kit
Official website

London Irish RFC is an English rugby union club originally based in Sunbury, Surrey, where the senior squad train, the youth teams and senior academy play home games, and the club maintain their administrative offices. It competed in the top division of English rugby union between 1996 and 2015-16, after which it was relegated into the Greene King IPA Championship. Whilst in the Premiership, the club also competed in the Anglo-Welsh Cup as well as one of the two Europe-wide club competitions—the European Champions Cup or European Challenge Cup, depending on their performance in the previous season. From October 2016 it will play in the British and Irish Cup in addition to the Championship. The club will continue to play its home games at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, Berkshire until 2026.

The team plays in green and white colours, with a reversed away strip. 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.[2] 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.[3] The club's mascot is an Irish Wolfhound 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 1895. The first game took place on 1 October 1898 against the former Hammersmith club at Herne Hill Athletic Ground, London Irish winning by eight points to three. The team benefited from the early recruitment of vet and Irish international Louis Magee.[4]


London Irish manage their own academy, with players such as Nick Kennedy, Jonathan Joseph, Topsy Ojo and Delon Armitage having gone on to play for the senior side and be internationally capped.


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 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[5] until December 2008.

On 12 March 2016 London Irish played their first home 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.[6]

The club announced on 15 August 2016 of their intention to return to London and that they were in formal discussion with Hounslow London Borough Council to play at Brentford FC's new stadium.[7]

Current standings

2016–17 RFU Championship Table
Club Played Won Drawn Lost Points for Points against Points diff Try bonus Loss bonus Points
1 London Irish 11 11 0 0 399 158 241 9 0 53
2 Yorkshire Carnegie 11 10 0 1 333 259 74 7 0 47
3 Ealing Trailfinders 11 6 1 4 259 237 22 3 1 30
4 Nottingham Rugby 11 5 1 5 230 259 −29 3 3 28
5 London Welsh 11 5 0 6 244 226 18 4 3 27
5 Doncaster Knights 11 5 0 6 252 249 3 5 2 27
7 London Scottish 11 5 0 6 244 294 −50 3 3 26
8 Cornish Pirates 11 4 1 6 290 277 13 2 5 25
9 Jersey Reds 11 4 0 7 255 279 −24 4 5 25
10 Rotherham Titans 11 4 1 6 233 297 −64 2 2 22
11 Bedford Blues 11 3 0 8 242 256 −14 4 5 21
12 Richmond 11 2 0 9 165 355 −190 2 0 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 are promotion play-off places. Pink background is the relegation place.
Updated: 4 December 2016
Source: "Greene King IPA Championship". NCA Rugby. 

Current squad

2016-17 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
Gerard Ellis Hooker England England
Todd Gleave Hooker England England
Jason Harris-Wright Hooker Ireland Ireland
David Paice Hooker England England
Dave Porecki Hooker Australia Australia
Tom Court Prop Ireland Ireland
Ben Franks Prop New Zealand New Zealand
Danny Hobbs-Awoyemi Prop England England
Ollie Hoskins Prop Australia Australia
Richard Palframan Prop South Africa South Africa
Tom Smallbone Prop England England
Sebastian de Chaves Lock South Africa South Africa
Will Lloyd Lock New Zealand New Zealand
George Robson Lock England England
Jerry Sexton Lock Ireland Ireland
Jebb Sinclair Lock Canada Canada
Mike Coman Flanker New Zealand New Zealand
Conor Gilsenan Flanker Ireland Ireland
Max Northcote-Green Flanker England England
Joe Trayfoot Flanker England England
Ofisa Treviranus Flanker Samoa Samoa
Blair Cowan Number 8 Scotland Scotland
Luke Narraway Number 8 England England
Senitiki Nayalo Number 8 Fiji Fiji
Player Position Union
Darren Allinson Scrum-half Wales Wales
Brendan McKibbin Scrum-half Australia Australia
Scott Steele Scrum-half Scotland Scotland
Theo Brophy-Clews Fly-half England England
James Marshall Fly-half New Zealand New Zealand
Ciaran Hearn Centre Canada Canada
Fergus Mulchrone Centre England England
Asaeli Tikoirotuma Centre Fiji Fiji
Johnny Williams Centre England England
Tom Fowlie Wing England England
Alex Lewington Wing England England
Topsy Ojo Wing England England
Tommy Bell Fullback England England
Greig Tonks Fullback Scotland Scotland
Ben Ransom Fullback England England

Academy squad

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
Matt Kouris Hooker England England
Harry Elrington Prop England England
Jack Cooke Lock England England
Isaac Curtis-Harris Flanker England England
Connor Murphy Scrum-half England England
Rory Brand Scrum-half England England
Jacob Atkins Scrum-half England England
Tom Parton Fly-half England England
Ross Neal Centre England England
Joe Cokanasiga Wing England England
Matthew Williams Centre England England

Notable former players

Current kit

The kit is supplied by O'Neills. On the front of the shirt, Powerday is at the centre with Etixx and FoodCloud on the right sleeve. On the back of the shirt, main sponsor Powerday is on the back collar while Pump Technology is at the top. On the shorts, VGC appear on the right leg. The club's logo is embossed diagonally across the bottom left in a different shade of emerald.


London Irish Amateur logo.

London Irish Amateur

For more details on this topic, see London Irish Amateur.

London Irish also host London Irish Amateur RFC (a separate legal entity) for non-professionals to allow them to improve in Rugby. The team play at the location of London Irish's training ground and offices, Hazelwood in Sunbury. Some players such as Justin Bishop and Kieran Campbell have come through the ranks to play for London Irish.[8]



Digger is an Irish Wolfhound and official mascot of London Irish. He has an important job of providing support to the Club.

On 30 May 2003 Digger won the "Best Mascot" award in the English Premiership at the Premier Rugby Marketing Awards.[9]

On 23 April 2006, Digger ran the London Marathon raising money for Spinal Research. Digger finished the marathon in a time of 6 hours 39 minutes 31 seconds.[10]


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 Digger, there is also a real Irish Wolfhound, Mr Doyle, who also attends the home games. Before Mr Doyle, his Great Uncle, Jumbo, attended home game before Jumbo retired and eventually died.


See also


  1. "Madejski Stadium information". Retrieved 14 April 2011.
  2. Palmer, Bryn (16 May 2009). "Leicester 10–9 London Irish". BBC News.
  3. "London Irish 15–21 Toulouse". BBC News. 26 April 2008.
  4. Club history –beginnings Retrieved 20 September 2015
  5. "No Luck on Paddy's Day for Irish". Guinness Retrieved 16 March 2008.
  6. "London Irish Aviva Premiership Rugby match in USA". London Irish. Retrieved 27 October 2015.
  7. Hyde, Nathan. "London Irish could soon leave Madejski Stadium". Get Reading. Trinity Mirror Southern. Retrieved 15 August 2016.
  8. Archived 15 April 2010 at the Wayback Machine.
  9. "Digger Wins 'Best Mascot' Award". London Irish. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  10. "Steven Orton is fundraising for Spinal Research – JustGiving". Just Giving. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
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