London Irish announced their return to Premiership rugby the other day. The Exiles have struggled to remain in the top flight of English rugby for a few seasons but they look strong and ready to return.

London Irish has always had a very good academy system and has taken on youngsters from other clubs to develop some top talent. Moreover, here are the best backs that London Irish could’ve fielded if they kept their former players.

15 : Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby)

Anthony Watson was at London Irish between 2011-2013 and was one of the youngest ever Premiership players. He had a good few games for the Exiles, which prompted the move to Bath.  Since then, he has been one of Baths key players for a number of seasons and up until a few years ago, he was one of England key players too. Sadly, Watson has been blighted with injuries and struggles to stay fit. Even so, he is still a dynamic player whom is great under the high ball and has a naughty step.

An honourable mention is previous England and Toulon fullback, Delon Armtiage.

14 : Marland Yarde (Sale Sharks)

Like Watson, Marland Yarde started his professional rugby career at London Irish. Moreover, Yarde is also a very dynamic player with dazzling feet. This can be seen by his 13 tries in 34 starts for the Reading based club, which is a pretty impressive record for a youngster. His stellar performances earned him a call up to the England squad in 2013. Shortly after he joined Harlequins. To this day, Yarde still causes chaos at his new club, Sales Sharks. With 11 tries 16 starts, he has been one of the best finishers this season.

13 : Jonathan Joseph (Bath Rugby)

Like Watson, Jonathan Joseph left for Bath in 2013. At the Exiles he scored 13 tries in 36 starts, which also earned him an England call up in 2012. Much like the two previous players, Joseph has a very attacking game and has immense feet. Much like Watson, he has been struggling with injuries over the past few seasons.

12 : Joe Cokanasiga (Bath Rugby)

The 113kg back is usually a winger but in order to include him and other members of the team, I switched him to inside centre. Arguably, Cokanasiga could make a lethal ball crashing centre due to his sheer size and speed.

Big Joe left London Irish in 2018 and joined Bath. Since then he has had some immense performances in an England shirt and looks to be a key player for the World Cup. With him being only 21, England fans can be excited to see him mature into a world class player.

An honourable mention for the number 12 shirt is Johnny Williams. Williams is also a very versatile and attacking player who left the Exiles for the Newcastle Falcons.

11 : Alex Lewington (Saracens)

Alex Lewington scored 34 tries for the Exiles over a 5 year span. He was a key player for the Irish for a few seasons. Sadly, when relegation seemed inventible, Irish had to let him go to Saracens. Since then he has put in some good performances for the Sarries, scoring 7 tries for them so far.

10 : James O’Connor (Sale Sharks)

The Aussie born 10 was only at London Irish for a season. He was a decent fly-half for the Exiles but sadly due to relegation fears, he left for greener pastures and joined Sale.

9 : Darren Allinson (retired)

Allinson was a nippy and skilful Welshmen. He was with the Exiles for six years and was an important squad player for them. He would always come on half way through the match and cause a stir for the opposition. Due to his experience he joined Bath Rugby and later retired in 2017.

Top 6 team so far?

If London Irish had kept these backs, they could easily be a top 6 team. The attacking capability in this team is absolutely crazy and any team would be scared to come up against them.

With the backs being very impressive, how good are the forwards London Irish use to have? Find out in part two.


Written by Sam Powell