Aviva Premiership Rugby: London Irish – Saracens Squads

March 11, 2016

Aviva Premiership Rugby: London Irish – Saracens Squads


Photo: Aviva Premiership Rugby

Doug Coil

London Irish v Saracens: Red Bull Arena, Harrison, New Jersey, March 12th, kickoff 3pm ET (20.00 GMT)

The Aviva Premiership Rugby has ventured out of England for the first time for a regular season match in an effort to expand their market into the United States. A sizeable crowd is expected for this match, although in the United States, the match is being broadcast on NBCSN. In England, BT Sport will be broadcasting the match.

London Irish

The London Irish have made three changes since last week’s match against Bath. Greig Tonks, a Scotland international, will make his debut for the team at flyhalf. In the forwards, Tom Cruse starts at Hooker, and Brian Cowan enters the starting XV at openside flanker. Captain Luke Narraway will move to blindside flanker for the Exiles.

Since both teams have traveled to a neutral site for the match, it should have minimized the home field advantage. The London Irish are hoping for a pro Irish crowd to spur the team on, while the Saracens will have three players that have played for the USA Eagles and should be of interest to many in the crowd.

While in this area, the London Irish have used the New York Jets’ state of the art training facilities. Assistant Coach Grant Dorsey reflected on the the week leading up to the match being played. He said “there has been immense excitement in the camp all this week about the opportunity to come to New York and put our season back on track. The facilities have been fantastic and the hotel is great. Having the squad together 24/7 has been great and the level of connection has really jumped up this week.”

The London Irish hope that this change of scenery will be the impetus they need to advance in the standing prior to the season ending.


The Saracens are the defending Aviva Premiership champions and want to defend that title. They are currently in first place, but the competition is keen. Five of their players will miss this match while playing for England against Wales in the Six Nations. It will be up to those selected to focus on the match and securing a win.

Eddie Jones, England’s Head Coach, has released Alex Goode to play in this historic match. Goode has played at Red Bull Arena previously in 2010 during the Churchill Cup Finals for the England Saxons. On Saturday he will start at fullback and be joined in the back three by Mike Ellery and Chris Wyles, the former USA Eagles captain, at wing.

Ben Spencer, the scrumhalf, will be looked to to get quick ball to his flyhalf link, Nils Mardt. The centers include captain Brad Barritt and Marcelo Bosch, an Argentina international.

Expect a physical battle in the forwards. The front row will feature Richard Barrington and Juan Figallo at loosehead and tighthead props, respectively and Jared Saunders at Hooker. At some point, it is likely that USA Eagle Titi Lamositele will enter the match, and the crowd will be looking for him to have an impact.

Hayden Smith is the third member of the Saracens to have played for the USA Eagles. Both he and Chris Wyles have since retired from international 15s play after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.Smith will start at lock along with Jim Hamilton. The backrow will have Jackson Wray at eightman, while Michael Rhodes and Jacques Burger will be at blindside and openside flanker, respectively.

This is a regular season match for both teams and much is at stake for the teams, as well as for Premiership Rugby. The League is in the United States to take advantage of the tremendous growth of rugby here. To foster this growth, the Aviva Premiership has signed an agreement to broadcast the League matches on NBCSN. This match is the first of matches that will come. To learn specifics of this agreement, read the DJCoil Rugby article listed after the squads. YouTube Interviews are also featured in the article.

London Irish: 1 Tom Smallbone, 2 Tom Cruse, 3 Halani Aulika, 4 Matt Symons, 5 Elliott Stooke, 6 Luke Narraway (c), 7 Blair Cowan, 8 Rob McCusker 9 Scott Steele 10 Greig Tonks 11 Topsy Ojo 12 Johnny Williams 13 Ciran Hearn 14 Alex Lewington 15 Sean Maitland 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Tom Court, 18 Leo Halavatau, 19 Will Lloyd, 20 Joe Trayfoot, 21 Darren Allinson, 22 Theo Brophy Clews, 23 Fergus Mulchrone

Saracens: 1 Richard Barrington 2 Jared Saunders 3 Juan Figallo 4 Hayden Smith 5 Jim Hamilton 6 Michael Rhodes 7 Jacques Burger 8 Jackson Wray 9 Ben Spencer 10 Nils Mordt 11 Chris Wyles 12 Brad Barritt (c) 13 Marcelo Bosch 14 Mike Ellery 15 Alex Goode 16 Dave Porecki 17 Titi Lamositele 18 Petrus Du Plessis 19 Alistar Hargreaves 20 Kelly Brown 21 Neil de Kock 22 Nick Tompkins 23 Ben Ransom

Aviva Premiership Rugby Comes To the USA: London Irish vs. Saracens

Includes DJCoil Rugby interviews with Chris Wyles, Hayden Smith and Titi Lamositele.


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North American Rugby News With A USA Slant