LONDON IRISH AMATEUR RFC: Wild Geese Flying The Flag For Amateur Status

LONDON IRISH AMATEUR RFC: Wild Geese Flying The Flag For Amateur Status

TAKE a moment to wander down The Avenue and into the self-proclaimed home of amateur rugby in Sunbury and you
will notice that Irish eyes are very much smiling.London Irish Amateurs RFC – known as the Wild Geese – may be the offspring of their more illustrious professional parents but they are meeting the challenge of their first season in the National League (NL3 L&SE) head on.Blessed with a thriving youth section, the prospect of a new Pictures: Sam Mukadam.Wild Geese flying the flag for amateur status by Clive Youlton
SPORT Send us your sports reports and pictures www.getsurrey.co.uk/sendstory Rugbyhome and a vibrant management structure, London Irish are set to prosperAnd they can claim to be unique as the only club in England to have a team in the Premiership (Exiles) and another in the National League, the club ring-fencing the amateur side when the game went open in 1995.The professional club are still based in Sunbury but continue to run independently, playing home matches in Reading.Meanwhile, the amateur arm of this proud outfit are determined to cling on to the NL3 L&SE place they claimed so dramatically last term. Headed up by director of rugby Chris Magowan, the team – average age 23 – are positioned behind the division’s leading pack but have one eye still firmly fixed on those below, in a league of 14 where three are relegated back to London 1.“To build the sustainable club
we envisage, it is paramount we retain our National League status,” insists Magowan.“With local clubs such as Staines and Bracknell fighting hard to rise out of the relegation zone it promises to go down to the wire, with both those clubs due at Sunbury in March.“Lessons have been learned already. The physical demands at this level have been demanding but it’s a challenge our young squad relish.“If we can keep this group together for a few more years
and complement it with experience, we are confident we will continue to grow together.”Sponsored by Powerday and Woking-based Multipulse Electronics the Wild Geese have aspirations to move to a new site and Magowan adds: “We are working closely with the professionals to develop a new centre of excellence within Spelthorne Borough, which would meet the requirements of all areas of the club.”The Amateurs were promoted to London 1 at the first attempt two years ago and followed that up with a sensational play-off triumph last term.The side have won the Surrey Trophy for that past two seasons.
They place a huge emphasis on youth.“We plan to put in place an amateur academy to help young players who do not make the professional ranks, do not wish to become professional players or who are not yet ready to do so,” continues Magowan.“Without exception, nurturing the talent we produce
is the best thing we can do as a club.“We have introduced an incredibly exciting initiative in this area, developing a squad to compete in the National Colts Cup.”The Amateurs’ coaching team is second to none, with unrivalled experience led by Jamie Balls MBE.Paul Dunne, Jon Bates (of Surrey Rugby) and Exiles’ Premiership forward Richard Thorpe are also involved. “We have put in place the right coaching structure to ensure that skills and capabilities learned at older age groups are passed down right through to the youngest section at U6 level,” enthuses Magowan.“We remain a home from home for Irish people who have emigrated here.“At the same time, we are an open club and available for anyone who wishes to enjoy a game of rugby or see their children develop.
“We are also a club that is embedded in the local community where we have played for 80 years. “These points remain at our core and guide us in all we seek to achieve.”