/ Rugby

Exiles to strengthen Irish ties after takeover

Updated: Thursday, 12 Dec 2013 12:22 | Comments

London Irish are eager to add more Irish players to their ranks
London Irish are eager to add more Irish players to their ranks

London Irish have pledged to strengthen their ties with Ireland after a consortium of London-based Irish businessmen completed a takeover of the club.

The group, which is led by president Mick Crossan and has former Exiles captain David Fitzgerald acting as interim executive chairman, has acquired a major shareholding in the company.

The owners have committed substantial new funds to invest in the new centre of excellence at Hazelwood and to strengthen the professional playing squad.

Director of rugby Brian Smith revealed the Exiles are determined to build on their roots by signing more players from Ireland.

"We have to be what we say we are on the tin and that means being representative of Ireland," Smith said.

Ulster prop Tom Court has already announced that he will be joining the Exiles next season while Donnacha Ryan has been heavily linked with a move to the Madejski Stadium.

Fitzgerald revealed there are no plans to move ground from Reading, where they are contracted to stay at the Madejski Stadium until 2025-26.

While stating that London Irish now have access to "substantial funds", he refused to embark on a spending spree to sign new players.

The club also confirmed the arrival of South Africa prop CJ van der Linde until the end of the season.

Van der Linde arrives as injury cover for Halani Aulika, who is out for the rest of the season.

"CJ is a world-class scrummager and will bring a lot of experience and composure to our pack," Smith said.

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