15 January 2021
Sadly, there's no fixture this weekend, but our Friday team news this week is arguably our most important of this season, or – let's be honest – any fixture over the course of the last 10 months or so.
This week, we pay tribute to the key workers, those London Irish supporters on the front line, whose ongoing work in the public and private sector has continued to provide the nation with essential services, as the country navigates its way through the COVID-19 pandemic.
No job is too big or too small for this squad – the cream of the crop, the crème de la crème – who have kept the country ticking over in its time of need.
Declan Kidney said: "This is the nicest, yet most difficult, selection I've made in my time in rugby, due to the quality of players available!
"Each and every player is in the squad on merit – and with their various skills and experience, I'd back this group to beat whoever they come up against, that's for sure!"
The front-row consists of a secondary school teacher, an Oncology / COVID-19 Research Nurse and an RAF Member – with Emily Reeves, Jo Hand and Robert Allen wearing the number 1, 2 and 3 jerseys respectively.
They're supported in the forwards by Caroline Barlow (Senior Occupational Therapist) and Stuart Middlehurst (Physiotherapy Technical Instructor), with three nurses forming the back row, in the shape of Advanced Nurse Practitioner Vicky Waring, Anaesthetic Nurse Emily Foster and Emergency Nurse Practitioner Sarah Lavelle-Lydon.
Nick Taylor (Groceries Delivery Driver) and Brendan Duffy (SWR Train Guard) are the half-back duo, with English Teacher Joseph Riley linking up with another Groceries Delivery Driver, Nige Needham, in the centres.
Holly Butler and Mike Tate – a Psychology Teacher and RAF Aircraft Technician respectively – are selected on the wings, and Ruben Thumbadoo (Junior Doctor in Trauma and Orthopaedics) has been handed the number 15 jersey.
Kidney added: "We – as members of the public – are totally indebted to our key workers.
"The job they've all done – and continue to do – in the face of adversity is remarkable and no praise is too high for them all.
"I've often thought – and seen first-hand – that you learn more about people in a crisis than at any other time, and the way in which the key workers have stood up, taken responsibility and continued to serve the public to the best of their ability, in such unprecedented and testing times, is remarkable.
"On behalf of everyone at London Irish, I can't thank you all enough – you are the unsung heroes of this pandemic, and for that, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts."
This is obviously all just a bit of fun and of course, regrettably, there isn’t a match on this weekend, but our message is clear – the Exile Nation is proud of each and every one of our key workers and you deserve a light to be shone, time and time again, on the amazing work you’re all doing. Together, we can get through this – and when the time is right and it’s safe to do so, we can’t wait to welcome you all back to the Brentford Community Stadium.
London Irish 'Key Workers' XV:
15 Ruben Thumbadoo (Junior Doctor in Trauma and Orthopaedics), 14 Mike Tate (RAF Aircraft Technician), 13 Nige Needham (Groceries Delivery Driver), 12 Joseph Riley (English Teacher), 11 Holly Butler (Psychology Teacher), 10 Brendan Duffy (SWR Train Guard), 9 Nick Taylor (Groceries Delivery Driver), 1 Emily Reeves (Secondary School Teacher), 2 Jo Hand (Oncology/COVID-19 Research Nurse), 3 Robert Allen (RAF Member deployed overseas), 4 Caroline Barlow (Senior Occupational Therapist), 5 Stuart Middlehurst (Physiotherapy Technical Instructor), 6 Vicky Waring (Advanced Nurse Practitioner), 7 Emily Foster (Anaesthetic Nurse), 8 Sarah Lavelle-Lydon (Emergency Nurse Practitioner).