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London Irish tackle claim that their Premiership survival should come with asterisk

(Photo by Ashley Western/MB Media/Getty Images)

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London Irish assistant coach Brad Davis has insisted it is “not all doom and gloom” following a disappointing return to action, playing down suggestions that Saracens’ sanctions could mean their Premiership survival has an asterisk attached to it.


The lowly Irish have suffered comprehensive defeats to Bath and Northampton since the 2019/20 Gallagher Premiership resumed this month.

Experienced trio Franco van der Merwe, Dave Porecki and Stephen Myler were among nine out-of-contract players to depart Irish during the suspension of the league, while forwards coach George Skivington controversially left to take over at Gloucester.

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England forward Courtney Lawes guests on The Lockdown, the RugbyPass pandemic interview series
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England forward Courtney Lawes guests on The Lockdown, the RugbyPass pandemic interview series

Australian Davis does not want to dwell on negativity, although he accepts a swift improvement is required ahead of Wednesday’s trip to fellow strugglers Leicester. “It’s not been the ideal start post-lockdown. It’s not how we would have liked to have got off and up and running,” he said.

“We’re disappointed definitely in certain parts of our game. We’re looking to improve that. We’re working incredibly hard to try and rectify those issues in the game and we’re hopeful we can put in an improved performance against Leicester on Wednesday. It’s not all doom and gloom but we’re definitely looking to right some wrongs of our game.”

Sanctions imposed on reigning Premiership champions Saracens due to salary cap breaches mean ninth-placed Irish and second-bottom Leicester do not have to worry about the threat of relegation. The Exiles currently sit eight points ahead of the Tigers going in to the midweek meeting at Welford Road.


Whichever Premiership club eventually finishes just above Sarries in eleventh position risks accusations of escaping the drop by default and having an unwanted asterisk placed next to their name. Davis dismissed concerns about that issue and feels building momentum ahead of next season’s move to the Brentford Community Stadium is the most pressing matter.

“You could argue the point that you could have an asterisk saying this club finished eleventh because of Covid,” replied Davis when asked about the situation. “There has to be an understanding that regardless of where we position in the table there are some clubs who are stronger post-lockdown and there are some clubs who are arguably weaker.

“We’re a club that has probably been slightly weakened by the lockdown in terms of the amount of players in certain positions that have left the club. We want to finish as high as possible and then we want to build on that to go into the 2020/21 season at Brentford and absolutely hit the ground running in London.

“You don’t want to lean on there is no relegation now and I appreciate, with respect, about the asterisk. That’s not going to define us whether we end up in that eleventh spot or whether we finish in seventh or eighth spot.”


In addition to recent personnel departures, Irish have also been hit by injuries. Winger Ben Loader is undergoing head injury assessments and likely to miss out against Tigers, while fly-half Theo Brophy-Clews was also injured in the weekend loss to Northampton and is not expected to recover from a shoulder issue in time.

“We are light in some positions and that has been well-documented and there is no cavalry coming over the hill,” said Davis. “We just get on with it, work as hard as we can and hopefully we can reap some rewards.”


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