As the 19th century drew to a close there was a consensus of opinion on both sides of the Irish Sea that a sporting club for Irishmen in London was badly needed. Part of the inspiration for this was the example of the exiles from the other home countries, London Scottish had been formed in 1878 and London Welsh seven years later in 1895. These clubs offered their countrymen a home away from home in London, a place to meet and relax while employment or education or other reasons took them away from their home country.
So it was in 1898 that a group of Irishmen came together to form their own club, the London Irish Rugby Football Club. The founding fathers were an exceptional group of powerful personalities embracing politicians, lawyers and businessmen united by a sense of Irishness and passion for rugby. From the beginning London Irish was to provide a welcoming "home" and hospitable meeting place for all Irish people, regardless of creed or politics.
Fortunately for the founding fathers their inspiration off the field found equal inspiration on it through the arrival in London at the time of veterinary surgeon, Louis Magee, a leading Irish international. Magee represented Ireland 27 times between 1895 and 1904 at out-half. He was a vital recruit for London Irish and attracted others of his countrymen to the new club.
By late September 1898 London Irish was ready for action. The first game was played on 1st October against Hammersmith (alas long departed) at Herne Hill Athletic Ground in south-east London. London Irish won by eight points to three!
Louis Magee's presence together with that of the club's first captain R S Dyas, was to have a major impact on progress. Such was their influence that regular fixtures were soon arranged with most of London's leading clubs of that era including Blackheath, Rosslyn Park, Saracens and Wasps.
A decade later London Irish was firmly established. Of 28 matches played in the club's tenth anniversary season there were 15 wins and 13 defeats. 1911 saw the club's first foray into Europe, to France for a game against Le Harve. Sadly, it would not be long before London Irish members would be crossing the Channel for altogether different reasons that were to impact on the club.Read More
Show your "Exile-Style" and wear it with pride!