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London Irish sign Noel Reid, one of the Leicester gang of five

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by London Irish)

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London Irish have signed Noel Reid, the former Ireland international who was one of the five players who left Leicester in summer 2020 when the Gallagher Premiership club tried to change their existing deals. Manu Tuilagi, Kyle Eastmond, Telusa Veainu, Greg Bateman and Reid were all forced out of the club at the time and the 31-year-old Irishman moved on to Agen, who were then in the Top 14 in France. 

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However, they have since fallen on hard times, getting relegated and going on a 608-day, 34-game run without a win as they dropped into Pro D2. Reid last appeared for the club in a December second division game versus Nevers. He has now struck a deal taking him back to the Premiership.

A London Irish statement read: “London Irish have completed the short-term signing of Noel Reid. The fly-half arrives at the Exiles to provide injury cover for Rory Jennings, who has been ruled out for the remainder of the season following shoulder surgery.

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“Reid made over 120 appearances for Leinster during an eight-year stint with the Irish provincial side. Midway through the spell, he made his senior debut for Ireland when coming off the bench against Argentina in 2014. He joined Leicester in 2019 before a spell with Agen.”

Declan Kidney, the London Irish director of rugby, said: “We are pleased to bring Noel into the squad following the injury to Rory. He will provide good cover at fly-half and twelve, complementing the other backs we have in those positions.”

Reid wasn’t the only player to continue his career in France after leaving Leicester in July 2020. Veainu was snapped up by Stade Francais and he spoke with RugbyPass last October about the ordeal of exiting Welford Road. He’d nothing lined up when he took his brave stance, but it didn’t take long for his talent to find a suitable suitor in Paris and a three-year deal was quickly agreed.

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“At the time they [Leicester] did what was right for them in terms of the pandemic and I was doing what I needed to do for my family and to support them and that was the decision I had to make based on that. At the time I didn’t really have any options and it was just when things started to break down with Leicester and the news started to be published that Stade heard about it and came through.

“At the time all the clubs had finished all their signings and I was very fortunate to be picked up by Stade. I owe so much to Leicester and they will always be my team. It has a special place in my heart. It’s where everything took off for me and I’m always cheering the boys on, supporting them from afar.”

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