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Calling All Irish Exiles

Calling All Irish Exiles

John S Hunter wants to hear from those living in Britain who want to play representative rugby under the Irish banner,

The Irish Exiles organisation was founded ten years ago by Tom Kiernan, the former British Lion and Ireland Captain (and since an influential member of the International Board). The objectives are to locate players of Irish descent in England, Scotland, Wales (and indeed France) who may be capable of playing for Ireland at representative level. Current focus starts from players in the under sixteen age group.

The Irish Exiles are a fully fledged Branch of the Irish Rugby Football Union. They have, at different periods, played in both the Ireland Senior and Under 21 Inter-Provincial Championships. Their emphasis has shifted to be primarily on player development and, to this effect, they have a growing number of fixtures in the U17/18/19 age-groups, including a September visit to Ireland to play Ulster & Leinster at U18 level ( both won!).

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The culmination of their season will again be the 4th Annual Screening Camp for young players (from the above age-groups) in June at Brunel University, West London, for which they will be, again, advertising nationally. For clarification, qualification is by birth, Irish parentage or grandparentage.

According to Branch Hon. Secretary, John S. Hunter, they prefer to judge their success, ” not by the results of teams we field but, by the number, and quality, of players we produce for Ireland International XVs.” The recent successes of British & Irish Lion Rob Henderson, alongside fellow Exiles Kevin Maggs, Simon and Guy Easterby in the current Ireland squad, add to an illustrious list. Simon followed in the footsteps of Exiles Justin Bishop and Simon Mason who played for Ireland at both U21 and senior levels. In total, eighteen Exiles players have played senior International Rugby since their formation, including the above.

The Irish Exiles have connections at all levels – on the IRFU Executive, with Senior Clubs in England particularly, with the major ‘Rugby Universities’, with schools, etc. Although their committee is relatively small, this is counter-balanced by the breadth of expertise that the members bring. This is highlighted by the fact that it includes people who can set an exemplar from their own playing career e.g. British Lion John O’Driscoll, and Jim Staples – one of four Irish Internationals on the committee.

John S Hunter
IRFU Exiles Branch Honorary Secretary
Brunel University, Department of Sport Sciences
Borough Road, Isleworth, Middx. TW7 5DU
Phone 020 8891 8255 (O) 8941 1985 (H)
Fax: 020 8891 8269
E-mail: j.s.hunter@brunel.ac.uk & l.e.hunter@btinternet.com