London Irish have announced an exciting new partnership with St Mary’s University, Twickenham.
The partnership, which formalises a long-standing relationship between the two organisations, will see the expertise of the coaching and support staff at London Irish and the results of the university’s extensive research projects being shared to enable the development of elite athlete and coaching education.
The relationship also includes joint use of both organisations’ top class training facilities.
Students at the university currently take part in the Gold Medal Internship Programme at London Irish. The internships see students benefiting from placements in the club’s Strength and Conditioning, Analytics and Medical departments, with many progressing to successful long-term careers in sport, including at London Irish itself.
“As a club, we are delighted to have agreed an official partnership between London Irish and St Mary’s University, an organisation that we have built a strong relationship with over the years,” said Bob Casey, Chief Executive, London Irish.
“A number of coaches and support staff at London Irish have graduated from the university and this partnership will significantly benefit both the club and St Mary’s in the long-term.”
Alongside the continuing internship programme, the partnership will also aid the development of:
Shared coaching development to develop the best possible programmes for elite athletes. London Irish Academy Coaches will also become part of the St Mary’s University rugby coaching team to help St Mary’s achieve their ambitions to grow and participate at the top of the university league.
“It is fantastic to see London Irish back in the Premiership and there are clear opportunities for both London Irish and St Mary’s University to develop a strong and fruitful partnership,” said Francis Campbell, Vice Chancellor, St Mary’s University.
The university will work alongside the club’s tailored personal development programmes for London Irish players to enable them to develop as players and work towards a career after rugby. These programmes will also aid the development of the university’s offerings to potential students.
London Irish Academy Plus players will have the opportunity to continue their education through St Mary’s while retaining strong links with the club and gaining the opportunity to develop their skills on the field by playing in the university league.
Established in 1850, St Mary’s University was granted full university status in 2014. With a superb reputation for academic excellence, the university has also produced some of the finest British athletes with representatives at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games including Mo Farah, Joshua Buatsi, David Weir and Karen Bennett. The university was also a training base for a number of national teams during the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Further good news for London Irish comes with confirmation that Director of Rugby Nick Kennedy and his management team have signed long-term contract extensions with the club.
Kennedy, along with Defence Coach Declan Danaher and Skills Coach Paul Hodgson have all penned new deals with London Irish.
Exiles’ icon Brendan Venter, who laid the foundations for Saracens’ European and domestic success, continues in his role as Technical Director.
Casey said: “As a club we are delighted that the coaches have committed their long-term future to London Irish.
“They have been relentless in creating a positive forward-thinking environment for the players to train in, which has been vital in helping the club achieve our goal of returning to the Premiership.
“Under the guidance of Brendan, the management team led by Nick deserve huge credit and the board had no hesitation in extending their tenure at the club.”