IRFU linked with rescue of London Irish after English club goes bust
The IRFU has confirmed that it has held talks with the English Union over the situation at London Irish, though there is to be a long way to go before an investment is made.
The Exiles filed for administration earlier in the week due to a failure to meet their bills.
Their financial collapse stems from the fact that, like Wasps and Worcester Warriors before them, they were unable to sell out their stadium which, in turn, reduced their capacity to pay their 40+ squad.
The club released a statement on Tuesday to confirm the sad news.
'The club can confirm that London Irish has received correspondence from the Rugby Football Union (RFU) to confirm suspension for the 2023/24 season,' the statement began.
'The suspension will result in the club being unable to compete in the Gallagher Premiership, Premiership Rugby Cup, and Heineken Champions Cup throughout the 2023/24 campaign.
"The club continues to remain in active discussions with the RFU as to any circumstances that may result in the suspension being lifted.'
Past player Sean O'Brien was heart-broken by the news.
To all the staff and players @londonirish absolutely heart broken for everyone
— Sean O'Brien (@SeanOBrien1987) June 6, 2023
It now appears that the IRFU could act as a de-facto life-saver for the English club, however. A report in the Telegraph this morning revealed that discussions between the two unions had taken place.
“The RFU has informally kept the IRFU updated on the situation at London Irish,” said an IRFU spokesperson.
“Naturally the IRFU is saddened by what has happened at the club and hope that the club’s difficulties can be resolved sometime in the future... though there no plans currently to invest in rugby outside of Ireland," it concluded.
IRFU Performance director David Nucifora has hinted previously that Ireland need to 'get creative' in order to provide playing opportunities to the vast number of talented players in the Irish game, some of which aren't getting game-time.
“Unless we want to sit back and lose our players elsewhere because other countries can come and pick off our best young players, we have to give them an opportunity to play,"said Nucifora in October 2022.
"We have to be creative," he added, "If you are creating a lot of good players, which our model is, then we have to find ways to allow them to play; play in a meaningful way that they as players feel that they have a chance to advance, where that be at provincial level or to get to international rugby.
"They have got to find a way to play," he said.
The IRFU are currently in a very strong financial position, which means that resourcing staff and a high performance unit at the club would most likely be within their capabilities.