London Irish have secured a stadium to host their remaining five home matches of the delayed 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership season. The Exiles were due to see out the campaign at the Madejski Stadium in Reading, their home of the past 20 years.
However, the season-stopping outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic ruined the club’s hopes of having a proper send-off celebration from that stadium ahead of their impending switch to a new ground share with Brentford FC in London.
With work on the new ground held up due to the pandemic, the arrival of Irish into their new home was delayed and it left the club scrambling to find temporary digs to finish out the current season.
There was no official indication as to where that venue might be when the fixtures schedule for the remaining matches in the Premiership was unveiled last Friday, but the riddle has now been solved after confirmation emerged that Irish will play at The Stoop.
A statement released on Tuesday read: “The club assessed a number of options as potential venues for the restart and are pleased to have agreed on a deal with Harlequins to be playing out the restart in Twickenham, just a few miles down the road from the Exiles’ new home in Brentford.
What has the Premiership CEO been doing all summer? https://t.co/gs05YIeCxV
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) July 10, 2020
“Work on the Brentford Community Stadium was held up due to the pandemic, but it is in its final stages and the club is looking forward to beginning its 2020/21 campaign there.” London Irish CEO Brian Facer added: “Although we may be fierce competitors with Harlequins on the field, even rivals can support each other during extraordinary circumstances such as these.
“I would like to thank the Quins board, and in particular their chief executive Laurie Dalrymple and his team, for their positivity in accommodating our matches.”
Harlequins’ Dalrymple said: “We are delighted to support our soon to be returning neighbours to be able to complete the 2019/20 Premiership season. The club is doing everything within its power to help get the sport back on its feet following the substantial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
“With that in mind, Harlequins have come to an agreement that London Irish will play their remaining five home games in Twickenham, one of which comes against Harlequins.”
The ground share means Irish’s home match against Saracens will now be played on Monday, August 31, to ensure it doesn’t clash with Quins hosting Northampton the previous day.
'As it stands a lot of guys on June 30 are going to be unemployed' @topsy_ojo talks the brutal reality of contracts, @LiRFC , their new stadium and how he's transitioning to life after the game, with @heagneyl ??https://t.co/PjrB41nuTu
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 7, 2020
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