After a testing season that culminated in the club being relegated from the Aviva Premiership, London Irish have been dealt a further blow with the news that highly-touted prospect Josh Basham will be leaving the club.
The versatile back-rower, who can also cover the second-row, is currently in impressive form out in France with the England U20s side, but the club today announced that he will be leaving in the summer to focus on his studies and would be relocating as a result.
RugbyPass understands that Basham is set to study at Durham University, potentially paving the way for him to link up with Newcastle Falcons next season, a path also being trod by London Irish teammate Johnny Williams this offseason.
Following Newcastle’s march to the playoffs this past season and the fact they have two universities playing in the BUCS Super Rugby competition on their doorstep, they are fast becoming a desirable destination for up and coming talent, after years of struggling to retain their top players each summer.
Losing Basham is a significant blow for Irish, who have been battling their own player exodus issues over recent seasons and though the club’s academy’s impressive production line of back line players has helped keep their squad competitive, the output of homegrown forwards has not made the same impact.
Basham is arguably the most exciting forward to have come through the club’s pathway since Alex Corbisiero and would have been a foundation piece for the new-look coaching staff to build around.
The news isn’t all bad for Irish, however, with Basham’s England U20 teammates Ben Loader, Tom Parton, Matt Williams and Rory Brand all signing new senior academy deals with the club, as have fellow academy products Isaac Curtis-Harris, Jacob Atkins, Jack Cooke, Ollie Hassell-Collins, Sam Collingridge and Austin Hay.