Years in Top Tier: 20
Last Year: 9th in Prem (35 Points), Group Stage in Amlin Challenge Cup & Anglo-Welsh Cup
Europe: Amlin Challenge Cup
Director of Rugby: Brian Smith
In: Blair Cowen (Worcester), Andrew Fenby (Llanelli Scarlets), Jamie Hagan (Leinster), Eamonn Sheridan (Rotherham), Fergus Mulchrone (Rotherham), Mike Mayhew (Newcastle), Myles Dorrian (Exeter), Matt Parr (Nottingham), Nic Rouse (Nottingham), Jonny Harris (Leicester), Jimmy Stevens (Leicester), Alex Lewington (Leicester), Sean O’Connell (Ulster), John Quill (Dolphin-Ireland)
Out: Alex Corbiseiro (Northampton), Jonathan Joseph (Bath), Matt Garvey (Bath), Jamie Gibson (Leicester), Steve Shingler (Llanelli), Max Lahiff (Melbourne Rebels), Anthony Watson (Bath), Scott Lawson (Newcastle), Dave Sisi (Bath), Jack Moates (Wasps), Alex Gray (England 7s), Conor Gaston (Aurillac), Jerry Yanuyanutawa (Glasgow), James Sandford (Cornish Pirates), Joe Ansbro (Retiring), Cai Griffiths (London Welsh)
London Irish have been in the top tier for the past 18 seasons but that stay looks to be under threat with Irish in free fall for much of last season, players leaving in their droves and nasty rumours surrounding player’s medical care doing the rounds.
All of the big names are in the departures lounge as British Lion Alex Corbiseiro leads the list, though with his injury record perhaps losing his understudy Max Lahiff to Melbourne Rebels will be a bigger blow. England centre Jonathan Joseph is moving onto Bath with Matt Garvey, David Sisi and England Under 20s winger Anthony Watson joining him in the West Country.
Scotland hooker Scott Lawson is moving to Newcastle and Steve Shingler is going home to Llanelli. Tigers have of course signed utility back row Jamie Gibson.
Replacing them? Well not much really. Former Nottingham pair Matt Parr and Nic Rouse, Tigers academy trio Jonny Harris, Jimmy Stevens and Alex Lewington, Worcester number 8 Blair Cowen, Newcastle hooker Mike Mayhew, former Falcon Andy Fenby on the wing.
They still have some cracking players like Sailosi Tagicakibau, Halani Aulika and Ian Humphreys but their squad is probably the thinnest in the league, especially in the tight forwards. From what I can tell they only have 3 dedicated locks in Skivington, Evans and Rouse.
They always struggle to win games in winter, even when they were a Play Off team about 5 years ago, and I can’t see that record getting any better.
They might stay up, but somebody has to finish bottom and I can’t see a stronger contender.