London Irish will be gracing the Premiership pitches next season, which will be delightful for many a rugby fan. In my previous article, I spoke about the talent London Irish produced and nurtured in the backs but how do some of their ex forwards shape up?

If you didn’t read my previous article, you can so here :

1 : Alex Corbisiero (Retired)

Alex Corbisiero was the heart of London Irish for sometime. During his five year spell, he was arguably one of the Exiles most influential players. He could decimate any opposition in the scrum and tackle. Moreover, this social prop was an amazing captain on and off the pitch, which is why it was such a blow when he left in 2013. The former British and Irish Lion took a long sabbatical in 2015, a shame for world rugby.

A notable mention would be former All Black, Ben Franks. Franks was hugely influential for London Irish but Corbisiero was made at Irish hence why has been picked ahead of the World Cup winner.

2 : Tom Cruse (Wasps) 

Tom Cruse was a flanker converted into an agile hooker whilst at London Irish. He didn’t set the Madejski a light whilst at the Exiles but he showed lots of potential. In 2016, he caught the eye of Dai Young and has been an important player for them ever since. His former flanker playing days have wonderfully complimented his transition to hooker, which makes him an entertaining player to watch.

3 : Max Lahiff (Bath Rugby) 

Max Lahiff is the perfect example of the modern day prop, powerful yet lean. He enjoyed a four year stint at Irish, where they helped him become an exceptional scrummager. This combined with his ability in the loose, makes him a valuable player for any team. Sadly, Lahiff left the Exiles for Melbourne Rebels in 2013. In 2015 he joined Bath Rugby, like many other former London Irish players.

4 : Bryn Evans (Sale Sharks)

The former All Black was sensational whilst at Irish. Every match he would make his physical presence known, he would always make some exceptional tackles. Moreover, his physicality was backed up by his eye for space, somewhat surprising for a giant second row.

5 : Toby Salmon (Exeter Chiefs) 

The 120kg lock played a few games for London Irish and showed copious amounts of potential. He left due to wanting to further his career and joined Rotherham Titans. Now at Exeter, he is still making  a name for himself and I wouldn’t be surprised if he becomes a regular starter for the Chiefs in a few seasons.

6 : Matt Garvey (Bath Rugby) 

Matt Garvey was a young and ambitious flanker at Irish, who racked up over 50 games for the club. Back then he was still very physical and had an immense work ethic. This work ethic attracted the likes of Bath Rugby, whom were so impressed with him that they made him captain.

7 : Jamie Gibson (Northampton Saints) 

Another hard hitting and ambitious flanker, Gibson was also nurtured by London Irish. Whilst at Irish, he was one of their most important players. He would put his heart and soul into every tackle and minute of the game. He was inspiring to watch and sets a perfect example to young players. Since leaving the Madejski in 2013, he has played over 120 matches for the Leicester Tigers and Northampton Saints.

8 : Matt Symons (Harlequins) 

Former London Irish skipper, Symons was only at the Madejski for one season. He was a star for Irish and he would always fight until the bitter end. He was not a flash player by any means but he would slog about the pitch, giving his all until the final whistle. Since then he has turned out for Wasps and Harlequins. Moreover, at both clubs he was a consistent starter and still continues to push the Harlequins pack to its limits.

A big loss?

The forwards on show here are pretty decent. The likes of Corbisiero, Garvey and Gibson have made names for themselves and have competed at the highest levels of rugby. Respectfully, the other forwards on this list are still very talented rugby players. Although if they were still at Irish, they would made a slight difference but not an instrumental impact. The quality of  backs London Irish have lost over the seasons is the real shame. The attacking line up they could have today would be immense.

Sadly, like most smaller first division teams, they will always lose some of their best players to big teams. Professional rugby is a dog eat dog world, if you don’t take transfer opportunities to bigger clubs, your career could stagnate.


Written by Sam Powell