Next up in our series Kieran Roche, a man who played 180 games for London Irish across nine seasons in the Premiership. Comfortable in both the second row and back row, he signed for the Exiles ahead of the 2002/03 season and represented London Irish during its best days in Reading.
Following the conclusion of his career, ‘Rochey’ as he was widely known around the club, has moved into a job in the insurance industry.
“I got a job with Aviva about six months after I finished playing and pleased to say I’m still gainfully employed” he joked.
“My position is in our broker account management team on the UK insurance side, looking after our relationships with some of our brokers, mainly big commercial insurances based in in our London office.
“I think I struggled with any obvious choice or direction after rugby, but I knew I was going to move away from rugby as I didn’t want to move into coaching, so it was always going to be a fresh start doing something new. I’m pleased to say I’m still enjoying what I’m doing and look forward to continuing so for the foreseeable future.”
Following a long career, Kieran feels extremely fortunate to be able to call time on his own accord, something that he knows isn’t a decision all players can make, given how physical the game has become.
“I certainly feel very fortunate from that point of view in making my own choice on when it was time to finish playing. Given how attritional the game is now, there is an increasing number of guys that are not in that position, so I’d like to think I got everything out of what I had to give, and achieved what I felt I was capable to do. It certainly allowed me to retire with a certain amount of contentment and allows me to look back fondly.”
Playing alongside the likes of the Armitage brothers, Bob Casey, Nick Kennedy, Faan Rautenbach, Sailosi Tagicakibau, Declan Danaher and a host of other big names, if Roche was to have any disappointments, it would be the missed opportunities to win silverware with the squad.
“I guess the one thing is that I didn’t go on to win a significant trophy with London Irish. We were very close to a couple of times and that would have been fantastic if we were able to do that, we had a good enough team and whilst I was there, we just didn’t quite get there.”
In terms of matches that stand out for the former Exile, the first is a game that a lot of supporters will recall. 12 May 2003, Bristol at the Madejski. A 41 – 21 victory secured London Irish’s place in the Premiership and unfortunate relegation for the club from the West Country.
“It was a do or die game for survival and was quite early in my time at Irish. There was still a lot of the boys around from the side that won the Powergen Cup in 2002, and for one reason or another we just struggled in the league that season.
“We came good in the end and there was that huge sense of relief. Bristol were the team that went down on that occasion and the contrast in our elation and their obvious disappointment sticks in my memory as a difficult one, but they were very gracious at the end of the game.”
The ‘100 club’ man also references Munster at home in 2010. A game synonymous with players and supporters alike.
“That was a great day and a good effort, but unfortunately not our greatest year in the Cup, but to beat a team that was one of the stronger in the competition was a great effort.
“Outside of those two matches is every St Patrick’s Party game. They were fantastic, purely because of the atmosphere generated inside the stadium. They were great days and memorable days playing at the Madejski.”