14 May 2022
Fixture: London Irish v Worcester Warriors
Competition: Premiership Rugby Cup, final
Date: Tuesday 17th May 2022
Stadium: Brentford Community Stadium
London Irish and Worcester Warriors will contest the Premiership Rugby Cup final this coming Tuesday at the Brentford Community Stadium (k.o. 7.45pm).
In the only the third ever Premiership Rugby Cup final, the Exiles are pursuing their first cup glory in 20 years as a topflight team against Steve Diamond’s side, who themselves are in their first ever cup final as a Premiership team.
Irish overcame Northampton Saints on that famous day at Twickenham Stadium in 2002, and the journey to reach their first final in the first tier since then has been a fascinating showcase of the talents of the Exiles’ squad.
A defeat at Mattioli Woods Welford Road in the pool stages remains the only blemish on the record of Irish in the tournament this term, likewise for Warriors who came unstuck only to Exeter Chiefs in March.
Warriors previously reached the knockout phases of the Premiership Rugby Cup in the first edition of the tournament- emerging from a ball consisting of Saracens, Sale Sharks and Leicester Tigers before meeting the Londoners again in a reversal of fortunes for Alan Solomons’ men.
The Sixways side’s last win in a domestic tournament formed part of a league and cup double back in 2015, achieving promotion back to the Premiership whilst taking the British and Irish Cup crown against Doncaster Knights.
The boss- Steve Diamond:
Worcester Warriors consolidated their coaching staff by securing the former Sale Sharks Director of Rugby, Steve Diamond, in November of 2021 with a view to succeed current Director of Rugby Alan Solomons at this season’s conclusion.
The 54-year-old has orchestrated an overhaul in personnel in his first few months in charge at Sixways, with seven new forwards confirming their allegiance to the Warriors cause going forward.
Amongst many signings on the pitch, former Harlequins back-rower Nick Easter has been confirmed as joining Diamond’s coaching staff as a Forwards and Defence Coach.
Diamond has previous success in this tournament, winning the second edition of the Premiership Rugby Cup with Sale when they got the better of Harlequins back in 2020.
One to Watch- Tom Howe:
Worcester Warriors’ prolific try scorer has had another blistering season when the whitewash beckons, retaining an astonishing record of nine tries in 11 appearances for the Sixways team.
This includes five in his last five outings in Warriors blue, contributing to Premiership Rugby Cup wins at Bath Rugby and additionally in the semi-final against Gloucester Rugby.
Having spent the first portion of this season on loan with Coventry, a Club Howe previously spent time with in National League One, the winger has proved himself in multiple capacities in the sport.
He moved across to the West Midlands from Wasps in 2017 and had a decorated background at a young age, being a part of the victorious England 2016 Junior U20 World Championship squad, winning the 2016 Singha Premiership Sevens with Wasps and the Anglo-Welsh Cup Breakthrough Award the next season.
Classic Encounter: London Irish 20-13 Worcester Warriors – 7th February 2016 – Aviva Premiership
London Irish commemorated Topsy Ojo’s 250th appearance for the Exiles with a 20-13 win over Worcester Warriors at the Madejski Stadium back in 2016.
Centre Ciaran Hearn was first to break the Warriors’ defensive hegemony, retrieving a loose ball to then chip over the visiting rearguard, collect and run clear to the whitewash.
Ryan Mills and Shane Geraghty scored their first points of the afternoon from the tee and Ojo was close to marking the occasion with his own score, only to be pulled back for an earlier infringement.
Bryce Heem dotted down in the corner to bring Worcester to within two of Tom Coventry’s team, but the latter were unfazed by the reduction of arrears and Andrew Fenby crossed following a smart pass from Geraghty, who then put the game out of sight with five more points despite Val Rapava-Ruskin’s try.
Tries: Ciaran Hearn, Andrew Fenby
Conversions: Shane Geraghty (2)
Penalty: Shane Geraghty (2)
Tries: Bryce Heem, Val Rapava Ruskin
Penalty: Ryan Mills
In Worcester Warriors’ final outing before the cup final, Steve Diamond’s was keen to extract practical learnings in a 38-16 Gallagher Premiership defeat to Saracens at Sixways.
"I was disappointed with the first 10-15 minutes of the first-half and similar the second-half," Diamond explained.
"We gave them easy opportunities and they took them and then it was a case of trying to climb back into it and we weren't able to do it.
"We said at half-time, we started the game 20 minutes in but we couldn't continue that momentum.”
The heavy defeat, which saw Max Malins cross four times, has given Diamond and company much to think about ahead of the lead up to the final, an occasion Warriors are committed to “having a good crack at.”
"They scored a few soft tries early doors in the second-half, but I am proud of their performance to stick at it.
"But it is one of those things, we are finally coming to the ‘elephant’s graveyard’ and we have one more game to go in the league but they now have ten days off.
"We have told them to come back in good condition and let's have a real good crack at the cup final and see where we go from there."