London Irish have been busy on social media, getting a battalion of their new signings to post video messages to help accelerate their season ticket sales drive ahead of their return to Gallagher Premiership action.
Waisake Naholo, Curtis Rona, Sekope Kepu and Nick Phipps – one New Zealander and three Australians – are among those to assist, but the club has opted not to court controversy by getting the under-fire Paddy Jackson to play a part in the campaign.
Along with Sean O’Brien, Jackson is a former Ireland international who has been signed to potentially reconnect the club with the Irish diaspora in the London region.
However, the Ulster and Ireland out-half, sacked by the IRFU in April 2018 for tasteless WhatsApp messages that were revealed in a court case where was found not guilty of committing rape, has been subject to negative headlines generated in recent months that have affected sponsorship of the club.
Irish will make their home match return in the Premiership when they host Sale on October 26 in Reading, but the club has a mountain to climb to regain support lost during their wilderness year in the Championship.
A message from @wnaholo ? Who else can't wait to see Waisake in a London Irish jersey?! ??
— London Irish (@LiRFC) July 18, 2019
Attendances at the Madejski Stadium plummeted to an average of just 3,770 per Championship match, a figure not much higher than their lowest crowd for the season, the 2,067 brave souls who turned up to see them play London Scottish.
Irish did have one fixture where they demonstrated the dormant support that still exists for them, their annual St Partick’s Day party match attracting 10,106 when they hosted Doncaster.
However, attracting a succession of five-figure attendance in the Premiership sounds like a tall order, which is why so many of their big-name new signings have been eager to help get the message out that the club is back among the English elite.
With attendances of just 3,000, London Irish's latest big play simply must pay off https://t.co/37d3SgJNIY
— liam heagney (@heagneyl) December 30, 2018
All Blacks winger Waisake Naholo said in his message: “I’m really excited to come over to London and put on the London Irish jersey. Also, season tickets are on sale now so grab one. Get your friends and your family to grab one and I will see you down at the Madejski Stadium.”
Aussie Kepu also voiced his support. “I’m really excited about joining the London Irish family at the end of the year. Make sure you’re part of the journey this coming season. Jump online, purchase your season tickets and we will catch you all soon.”
Phibbs added: “Really looking forward to getting over to London later in the year with the family. Looking forward to playing for London Irish and enjoying the boys over there.
“I already know they are doing some great things and I’m really excited to be playing in the Premiership. Really looking forward to seeing you there at the first game. Get onto the London Irish website and have a look at the membership packages. Join for the journey ahead. Cheers.”
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