London Irish hoping to continue European adventure

London Irish hoping to continue European adventure

SUDDENLY London Irish’s season glimmers with promise and backs coach Richard Whiffin believes the Exiles can finish the season with a flourish.

Last Saturday’s Aviva Premiership ‘St Patrick’s Party’ 22-21 success over Newcastle Falcons in front of 15,731 spectators hinted at London Irish’s vast potential.

Now a European Challenge Cup is scheduled for the Madjeski Stadium this Sunday evening and Whiffin wants London Irish to maintain their improving form.

“We have been playing quite well recently,” Whiffin says.  “We were really happy with how the Newcastle Falcons game went.

“We played some nice rugby, but we also defended heroically too so it was an important win for us in front of a massive crowd.

“The ‘St Patrick’s Party’ has become a massive event for the club, it is a big party and is almost a one off in a sense.

“There is usually a big build up for the game so it is brilliant when the players perform and do very well.  We were delighted with how it went and I suppose it showed what we can achieve.

“When it got tough we managed to hang on in there with some pretty heroic defending.  That was really pleasing for us, we had a 16th man in the crowd which was nearly 16,000.

“It showed the players what the club means to people and it is up to them to maintain the form they have been showing recently.  It would be brilliant if we were getting attendances like that regularly because it spurs the guys on.

“Just when you might be struggling the roar of the crowd can give you a lift and now we face a huge knockout game in Europe.”

Sunday’s tussle with Edinburgh, who sit seventh in the Guinness Pro 12 table, will be a season defining encounter for London Irish.

“It is one of the biggest games the club has had in six years since the Premiership final,” is Whiffin’s verdict.

“In the Premiership we want to climb the table by taking scalps, that is what we want to do, but in our European campaign our destiny is in our own hands.

“The more support we get the better it will be for us.  The draw has been kind to us because we wanted to be at home.

“At this stage of the competition that is vital so it is up to us to keep our good run going.  The victories we had over London Welsh and Newcastle Falcons were encouraging, but we could have nicked wins over Northampton Saints and Leicester.

“Overall, though, we are pleased with how things are going.  Credit to the boys and the focus they have kept during the season.

“Now the challenge for us is to go up to another level and I believe that we can do that by getting into the semi-final of the Challenge Cup.”