London Irish Director of Rugby Nick Kennedy confirmed that most of the club have already being busy recruiting and that most of the Exiles’ signings for next season’s Premiership campaign are already in place.
Irish sealed an immediate return to the top flight with a 55-48 victory over Yorkshire Carnegie in the Championship final second leg amidst joyous scenes at the Madejski Stadium, to complete an 84-66 aggregate win and a return to the top flight.
“We’ve done the majority of our signings. We’ve signed people that want to come to this club and believe in what we’re doing,” said Kennedy.
“If we’d lost this tie tonight, they were turning up anyway and we’d have kept fighting and fighting to put this club back on the top.”
Kennedy put Irish’s promotion winning campaign down to a ‘squad effort’, as the club bounced back from last season’s relegation from the Premiership.
“It’s the players’ hard work that’s testament to this achievement,” he said.
“We’ve asked them to do an awful lot this season and they’ve been incredible. I have so much respect for them.”
A thrilling and open game, with both sides intent on attacking, saw the lead changed hands four times in the first 20 minutes, with Irish’s Ciaran Hearn opening the scoring inside the opening minute.
Seb Stegmann went over for Carnegie, only for Brendan McKibbin’s converted try to hand the lead back to Irish. But Mike Mayhew then burst clear to put the visitors back on top in a crazy period.
Fergus Mulchrone put the Exiles in front and the home side pulled away in the second half as they ran in three tries to seal victory.
“We made it hard for ourselves, but credit to Yorkshire. They came out swinging and have played some incredible rugby all year,” said Kennedy.
“We’re just delighted to be back in the Premiership where I believe this club belongs. We’ve rotated the squad all year and all the players fully deserve to be up there celebrating.
“The Play-off Final was a big occasion and the pressure is always going to take its toll on certain aspects, but we ultimately got the result that we wanted.
“The crowd were amazing and they really played their part over the two legs with their magnificent support, which has been evident throughout the season and I’m very pleased for them.”
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