London Irish's Best Moments - The History of the Exiles - Ruck

London Irish’s Best Moments – The History of the Exiles

After an exhausting saga of speculation, the worst-case scenario was confirmed last week for London Irish. The Exiles received the devastating news, which saw them become the latest Premiership club to be suspended by the RFU.

A truly sad day for English rugby, as this historic club will be ousted from the top flight with a future of uncertainty on the horizon. Irish follow the likes of Worcester Warriors and Wasps, in becoming the third Premiership Rugby club to collapse, in what has been an unforgettable and unimaginable 2022/23 season. Part of a combined statement from the RFU and Premiership Rugby and the RPA read;

London Irish fans celebrate a try during the Gallagher Premiership match between London Irish and Exeter Chiefs at The Gtech Community Stadium, London on 6 May 2023 (Photo: Danny Loo/PPAUK)

“As a result of London Irish and its potential buyers being unable to provide reassurances over the club’s financial ability to operate in the Premiership in the 2023/24 season, the RFU has confirmed the club is not able to participate in any league next season.”

Irish’s final match for now saw them record a 17-14 victory over Exeter Chiefs, with flanker Juan Martin Gonzalez holding the accolade of being the Exile’s final points scorer in the Premiership.

Try celebrations for Juan Martin Gonzalez of London Irish as he goes over for the game winning try during the Gallagher Premiership match between London Irish and Exeter Chiefs at The Gtech Community Stadium, London on 6 May 2023 (Photo: Danny Loo/PPAUK)

So after this tragic news for London Irish and their proud ‘Exile Nation’ of supporters, lets take a look back on the club’s high points. Irish have an incredible 125 year history, so lets remember the memorable moments, which came along the way.

1. The Foundation of the Exiles

London Irish Rugby Football Club was officially founded in 1898, when a group of Irishmen in the British capital joined together to form the team. These ‘Founding Fathers’ were lawyers, politicians, businessmen and students, who believed that an Irish sporting club in England was needed for those living away from their homeland.

London Irish followed the trend of ‘Exile’ sides within the English club game, after London Scottish’s establishment in 1878 and London Welsh in 1885. The idea behind founding the rugby club is summarised beautifully by the official London Irish website; “The intention was to provide a home from home for wandering Irish men and women regardless of creed or politics and a welcoming and hospitable venue to entertain rugby players and supporters from all over the world.”

Image Credit: Rugby Pioneers

An important arrival during the Exiles’ inception, was leading Ireland international Louis Magee. London Irish’s first international player, Magee played 27 times for his country and had a vital role in recruiting more Irishmen to the new club; an undeniable icon of the Exiles’ early years.

London Irish’s first ever match was a low-scoring 8-3 victory, as they took on Hammersmith. The West London club welcomed the Exiles to the Herne Hill Athletic Ground, and marked the start of Irish’s on-field story on October 1st 1898. London Irish thrived in the early years of the new century, and established themselves within the local London club leagues before the outbreak of World War One.