Boss Kidney hails London Irish’s ‘top class’ new home

London Irish director of rugby Declan Kidney says his squad are relishing the chance to be back in the capital after 20 years of playing in Reading.

Irish trained at the Brentford Community Stadium for the first time on Friday, two weeks ahead of their first home game of the Premiership Rugby season against Leicester, and Kidney believes, the 17,250-seater venue which they will share with Brentford, is ideally suited for rugby.

“It’s top class, it really is,” Kidney said.

“The spec around it, inside and outside, it is everything you could hope for and my personal belief is that it’s the perfect size for a rugby ground.

“It is up to us to come and give the supporters something to cheer when they gates finally open later on.”

The Exiles left The Avenue, their home ground for 68 years, in 1999 and spent a season sharing with Harlequins before moving home games to the Madejski Stadium in 2000.

While the club maintained their training base in Sunbury, many long-time supporters refused to make the journey up the M4 on a regular basis and the playing squad mostly lived in the south-west London area.

Former Ireland coach Kidney is hoping that sense of belonging can transmit to better results on the field after the team struggled dismally after lockdown, losing eight of their last nine games to finish third-last on the table.

“To be back in town, we have a lot of players living in the region, Reading were very good to us, but when you are travelling an hour out to games, it’s not ideal,” he said.

“This just feels like home, you drive past it most days and when you step outside of it, it feels like a proper rugby ground.”