LONDON IRISH AMATEUR RFC, FLOURISHING THANKS TO A FORMER NIFC SCRUM HALF FROM ARMAGH

LONDON IRISH AMATEUR RFC, FLOURISHING THANKS TO A FORMER NIFC SCRUM HALF FROM ARMAGH

A BIG WELCOME IS EXTENDED TO EVERYONE HEADING TO LONDON FROM LONDON IRISH RFC.

Chris Magowan, former NIFC scrum half from Armagh who played for NIFC and then Belfast Harlequins. Coached Armagh College of FE, Armagh/Monaghan U18s and Ulster Ladies before moving with work to London in 2003, was appointed as Director of Rugby at London Irish Amateur RFC in 2007 tasked with transforming the fortunes of this famous Club which was suffering in the shadows of its prestigious professional team. Appointed Manager of Irish Exiles U20s who will host Ulster U20s in August 23rd in Reading.

Apart from keeping up to date with our friends in Ulster we would be delighted to welcome anyone coming to London to join our club.

“Our 1st XV Wild Geese comprise 50% Irish Players with the remainder second generation and from the local area. There is a large Ulster contingent with Captain David Reilly a former Dungannon player and Sam McKinney last years Ballymena 1st XV Captain. To extend a warm welcome to any player who will be moving to work or study in London this coming season.

Background on London Irish Amateur RFC

When the game turned professional the Club decided to ring fence the Amateur sides from the professional side in what were volatile times. The professional team unlike most other premiership clubs is still owned by members and while they now play at The Madjeski they are still based at Sunbury where the Amateur club play. The two parts of the Club run independently with a close working relationship. London Irish is unique in English Rugby offering rugby from professional level down to under7s at the same club at the same venue, something we are extremely proud of. We field teams at every age group from U7s to U21s, and five adult sides .Our players are given the opportunity to pursue professional rugby via the London Irish England Academy with those who do not make it being retained in The Wolfhound Academy which develops players aged 18-21 for the first team of the Amateur Club, The Wild Geese who won promotion last season to London and South East Division One. securing promotion as champions of London 2 SW. The Sunbury Club enjoyed their most successful season to date also collecting the Surrey Trophy and Surrey 7s Bowl during a Club record 20 game winning run from October 2009 to the end of last Season.

The Wolfhound Academy was set up primarily to retain those players who were cut aged 18 from the professional academy and to develop others who had not made the elite player pathway. They play primarily at U21s and U19s and enjoyed fixtures last year against the likes of Leinster U19s (lost 25-8) Munster Schools U18s (won 21-11) and Infantry Rugby (won 25-11). As part of this development programme we aim to make it available to three groups of players; those who have come through are own youth system, students attending University in London and players coming over to London from Ireland.

This has led to the establishment of a partnership arrangement with St Marys University. The Club already sponsor the College 1st XV who train at Sunbury on Monday evenings and this season will also be providing the coaching panel. We have appointed Sam McKinney as Head Coach of the College and he will work alongside the Head Coach of the Wild Geese Jamie Balls MBE an RFU coaching educator and former DOR of Combined Services U23s. McKinney was captain of Ballymena RFC last season and will be returning to play for the Wild Geese who he Captained three seasons ago. The Wild Geese have 4 St Marys Players and the Wolfhound Academy many more, on 20th September the two clubs will play each other in a recruitment drive at London Irish.

As an amateur club we do not pay players to play rugby. We gained promotion last year into London 1 and have ambitions to reach the National leagues in the next two years while retaining our amateur status. However we are aware that other clubs at our level and higher do pay match fees and this will inevitably lead players away from us. To counter this we have placed greater emphases on retaining and developing our own players through the Wolfhound Academy, players that we believe will be able to play at National League standard within three years. An example of our commitment to this development path was sending three of our promising youngsters to New Zealand on an exchange programme with Waiuku RFC this summer.

By Chris Magowan
Director Of Rugby @ London Irish Amateur RFC
www.london-irish-amateur.co.uk

Its a pleasure to report on London Irish Amateur RFC and look forward to future updates.